Always Cover The Basics
Last week, I received a U.S. priority mail package sent to my old agency mailing address. My literary agency ended a year ago when I became a publisher at Intermedia Publishing Group. Check out this free teleseminar if you want to know more details about Intermedia and the distinct role we play in the marketplace. According to Sally Stuart, more than 90% of the entries in her market guide change each year. The address should have been my first clue to what was inside but it gets worse.
The author failed to include a cover letter with his contact information--phone, mailing address and email address. The package contained a synopsis of his novel and then a 53-page sample of his writing. The result was about a two-minute reading experience (or less) and it was tossed into the trash. I'm certain the author hoped for much more in going to the trouble and expense of sending this priority mail package. He failed to include any information about himself. Why did he write this novel and what level of presence does he have in the marketplace to sell his novel? Pick up this free ebook to learn more about how to develop your platform or presence in the marketplace.
As an author, you have seconds to grab the attention of an editor or literary agent. I mean seconds. When I interviewed acquisitions editor, Andy McGuire, he was acquiring mostly fiction. I asked how he handled submissions. His answer is revealing and from my experience typical how all of us handle these submissions. He explained, "I read the first sentence and if it is a good sentence, then I read the second sentence. If the first paragraph is a good paragraph, then I read the second paragraph."
First impressions count. A complete submission counts and would-be authors (whether it is your first submission or 1,000th submission) need to make sure they always cover the basics. The basics would include a cover letter which grabs the editor or agent and doesn't let go. You also need a brief biography to explain who you are (yes tell about your day job if you haven't been published) and why you are going to be a dynamic author for their publishing house. Every submission needs a marketing plan to show you are sensitive and in tune with selling your book.
More than anything, don't waste your time and energy on submissions which don't cover the basics. Beyond the basics, do much more and your submission will be read and seriously considered.