Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Guidelines When Submitting

For a few months, I've posted about doing your research when it comes to choosing a publisher or agent, and all the different ways someone can be published. Now I'm going to switch gears a bit and talk about submitting to publishers and agents.

I have friends who are editors who sometimes share (publicly, on social media etc.) difficulties they've had with submissions. One of the common complaints I've seen is that people are not doing their research when it comes to following submission guidelines. For example, a friend who edits for a company that publishes adult male/male romance has received several submissions of heterosexual romance manuscripts. Even though the company's guidelines specify that they only accept male/male.

Submission guidelines exist for a reason, and nearly every publisher and agent that I'm aware of has them. You can usually find the guidelines on a page of the company/agency website, though admittedly some companies don't post the guidelines anywhere that's easy to find. (As a side note, if the link to a publisher's submissions guidelines is a tiny little thing at the bottom of the page, or if it's buried under the "contact us" or "about us" link, it may be a sign that they're more focused on marketing to *readers* than on gaining new authors, and that could be a good thing.)

Submissions guidelines might include anything from the length of stories the company accepts, to what font and margin size they require in their manuscripts, to whether they want a query letter to start with or will accept full manuscripts. I've seen some websites where the submissions guidelines are longer than the catalog of books published by that company.

Today's post is an overview; over the next several posts, I'll get into more detail about the types of guidelines publishers and agents have and why, and why it isn't going to impress them if you ignore those guidelines. I will also try to get statements from publishers and agents about their guidelines and their opinions of when or whether it's okay not to follow them.

Meanwhile, take a look at the list of publishers or agents you plan to submit to, if you have one. Do you have links to their submissions guidelines? Have you read those guidelines carefully?

1 comment:

  1. This is a great reminder! And I'll chime in too to say that it's something to be particularly aware of when querying in 'batches' ... I don't mean mass-emailing, but rather I mean querying multiple agents on the same day.

    I know I for one, have accidentally forgotten to cut-and-paste manuscript pages into emails and instead sent them off "query only" because I had it in my head that those were the preferences of the agent I was currently querying ... when in reality it was something that another agent had mentioned in an interview (not the official guidelines).

    Long story short: don't query when you're tired/prone to confusion!