Monday, January 17, 2022

5-Point Checklist for Manuscript Submission

Line up those ducks!

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

Something happens to authors when they're about to submit their "baby" "masterpiece" or "heart and soul" to a publisher, whether that publisher is of the traditional fare or not. 

As a subsidy publisher myself - a publisher who receives money upfront to publish a book and then works at getting the book ready for publishing - I've seen it all.

Hand-written changes in the margins.

Single-spaced submissions.

Submissions that try and add pictures instead of sending the pictures as an attachment.

Manuscripts that HAVE NOT gone through at least one initial edit other than by the writer. 

Manuscripts that use a strange font [perhaps a font that is practically unreadable] or strange manuscript set-up. This can be intending the first paragraph by pushing the space bar 5 to 10 times instead of indenting paragraphs by .5 inches. Learn more here.

A good rule of thumb:

Professional is best. 

1. Make sure your manuscript is as clean and free of as many errors as possible. I use Grammarly myself, and then share my manuscript with at least one [more is better] reader, editor, or a combination of both.

2. Check your manuscript setup. I was going to mention the rules here but this article, "How to Format a Book: 10 Tips Your Editor Wants You to Know" is excellent.

3. Include a cover letter - or introduction. Your cover letter will differ depending on the reason why you are submitting your manuscript. Is it because the publisher asked for it? [You met them at a writer's conference]. Are you sending the manuscript because you think the traditional publisher would be interested in your book? [You found the business located in Writer's Market]. Are you sending your manuscript to a subsidy or vanity publisher? In all cases, find out what the publisher wants you to send them. [For us, Idea Creations Press, the first chapter, synopsis, vision for your book, and how you plan to market your book is more important than a standard cover letter]. 

4. Include a SASE [Stamped, Self-Addressed Envelope] for the return of your manuscript or a business-sized envelope for a return letter from the publisher. If you're doing things electronically, discard the envelope idea but make sure the publisher has your name, address, email, and phone number. 

5. Make sure your manuscript is weighed at the post office before sending it. Do not guess how many stamps you think you'll need and mail it from your house. Once you know the weight of your package, you can add the correct amount of postage to the SASE before sealing the entire package up and mailing it. No worries if you're simply mailing a business envelope. One stamp is sufficient. For online submissions: Make sure you've attached the manuscript!!

While there are still authors who are expected to send their manuscript [even if the publisher asks for only the first few pages] by snail mail, many publishers are now asking for the authors' work through email, and this simplifies the submission process substantially. It also allows the author to submit without the added expense of postage and wait time - which is often 6 months to a year for standard submissions.

Stand out from the slush pile by referring back to this checklist every time you submit.

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