Sounds easy, right? Print off your manuscript, stuff it into an envelope, and plop it in the mail. How hard can this be?
It’s the business end of writing and like most creative folks; it’s what we least like to do. There are rules to follow. Ick. There is planning to be done. Blanch. And patience is required. Groan.
So here, in my humble opinion, are the steps needed to get that manuscript off your computer and into the hands of the gatekeepers of publication – the editors.
Checklist for Submission:
- Write stellar, out of this world, "no one's heard this story before" book
- Edit 100 times
- Read to your Critique Group, making copious notes on suggestions
- Edit 100 more times, massaging every word and rethinking every comma
- Write equally stellar, out of this world, “no one’s heard before” one page Synopsis of your novel
- Search the internet for publishers, compiling a list of publishers interested in your genre
- Fine tune list to those open to Unsolicited Manuscripts
- Read over submission requirements and follow them to a T or t or tea – whatever they ask for, you must painstakingly provide
- Write individualised cover letter that will blow away selected editor – seriously. Blow that editor off their chair, into the hallway, and down to the senior editor’s office where they collectively drool over your written words
- Mail, email, send by carrier pigeon your submission, as requested by targeted publisher
- Wait and cross fingers – helps to have friends and family cross their digits, too. (This can and should include toes. Just sayin’.)
- Wait, cross fingers, toes, arms, legs (find friends who are double-jointed), and most importantly don’t give up hope
Finally you will be given three possible outcomes –
- You will receive a letter requesting further edits – this is not a guarantee of publication, but it keeps the writing hope alive. Hope is key to returning to your computer and pounding away at your manuscript making the next 100 edits, as required by your hopefully, soon to be new-best-friend-editor.
- You will receive a rejection letter – this, as the name implies, is not what any writer wants to receive. Honestly, it’s what keeps us up at night. However, it is a sign that you are taking the biggest step towards publication – you are submitting your work. Writing that story and shoving it into your top desk drawer will never get it onto a bookstore’s shelf, where we all want to find our books. If you do not give up and keep improving your craft, you will eventually find your new-best-friend-editor.
But most importantly, I have one acceptance letter. It keeps the hope alive, that one day my books will be printed and bound with beautifully glossy covers.
So, if you’ve written a novel, what are you waiting for? Your new-best-friend-editor is dying to meet you, but you’re going to have to make the first step. How do I know this for sure? Well. I don't. Not exactly, but I have a lot of hope that I'm right.
And if you’re low on hope, may I suggest finding yourself a supportive writing group? That or a well chilled Pinot Grigio.
Again your choice.