Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Basics Count on Submissions

The creativity of writers never ceases to amaze me. Here's one of my true stories with a lesson for you on submissions: You are passionate about your story and sit hour after hour and write that manuscript.

You bring that manuscript in a large binder and hand it to an acquisitions editor during a large conference where the editor (me) is a keynote speaker. I listen to you for a few minutes and thank you and promise to read it and get back to you.

Weeks later I actually have a second to look at this large binder. I'm intrigued with the story and the writing but there is a key missing element—the writer didn't add a title page with her contact information, email, phone number. In fact, her name doesn't appear anywhere obvious inside this binder.

In the interim weeks, I've heard nothing from this author—no follow-up email to see if I've had a chance to read it or reconnecting or anything. I finally read the material and wanted to reconnect with the author so I tracked down her business card. I keep the business cards in a separate place from the manuscripts, then I reconnected the materials and emailed this author to find out the status of her book.

At this time, I still don't know where she is in the publication process but a basis error kept us from connecting weeks earlier.

You would be surprised how often this happens with submissions. 

Whether you hand your submission to an editor or literary agent at a conference—or—you send it electronically—check and double check that you have some basic information on the first page:

Name, mailing address, phone number and email address

Here's the simple reason you need to include your mailing address. As a part of our submission process, we mail each author a printed letter in the postal system. If you don't include this information in your submission, then the editor has to reach out to you to get this information. In the meantime, your submission goes to the side while other things are worked on (not what you want to happen).

As I was writing this article, another author contacted me about her submission. During our conversation, she mentioned that her mother had passed away. I was going to send her a sympathy card so I dug out her business card. The card was beautiful and included her name, email and phone along with her photo—but no mailing address. Next I went to her website and looked around. It was an attractive website but did not include a mailing address. 

One of the most difficult aspects of proofreading is finding something which is not on the page. Many editors will not go to such effort to process your submission but will simply set it aside and begin working on the next one on their submission list. You will be rejected by default.

Don't make the editor or agent have to work hard to reach you. It will work against you rather than for you in this process. The basics are important and make sure you have them covered.

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1 Comment:

At 10:03 AM, Blogger Audrey Left a note...

Like so many things in life, small details in our writing can make the difference between failure and success. Thanks for sharing this information!


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