Categories
Writing and Publishing

Six Book Submission Tips

Whether submitting your book to an agent or directly to a publisher, here are a few tips to follow to be viewed as professional, avoid being blacklisted, and increase your chances for success:

  1. Format Properly: The first step is to follow formatting conventions and expectations, which I covered last week in “How to Format your Book Submission.”
  2. Follow Directions: Most publishers and agents have submission guidelines posted on their website. Find them and follow them. Never email to ask what is already online.
  3. Avoid Demands: Don’t state that your words can’t be edited, require they use your title,or insist on a particular cover. Every demand you make lessens your chances and increases their ire for you.
  4. Be Patient: Reviewing submissions takes time and is seldom a priority; expect it to take months.
  5. Follow Up Cautiously: Be careful about following up. Once may be acceptable under certain circumstances, but sometimes no follow-up attempts should be made. Don’t expect that the “squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Instead, checking for status updates may just result in an outright rejection of your submission.
  6. Accept Criticism: If you are fortunate to receive feedback on your book, accept it as a gift. Only respond if the agent or publisher gives you permission. And, by all means, never argue.

Following these six tips will increase your chances of having your book published. Of course, the most important tip is to write a really great book!

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

How to Format Your Book Submission

There are two main considerations for formatting your book submission: First, follow the basic criteria that almost all people agree on; failing to do this decreases your chances for success. Second, many publishers and agents post submission guidelines on their websites telling you what they expect. So, start with the basic requirements in all your work and then tweak it as needed for specific instances.

Here Are the Basics:

  • Times New Roman font: 12 points, black
  • Double-spacing between lines
  • Only one space to end a sentence
  • Flush left and jagged right (that is, left-justified but not right)
  • Indented paragraphs, usually a half an inch (Use the indentation setting in your word processor; don’t set a tab or use a certain number of spaces.)
  • One inch top and bottom margins
  • Equal side margins (usually either one or one and a half inches)
  • Don’t have a hard break (that is, a “carriage return”) at the end of each line.
  • Don’t add an extra line at the end of a paragraph (except for a scene break or transition).

Bonus Considerations

If you follow these basics, few editors will object and most will consider you a pro. Here are some bonus considerations:

  • Don’t format the margins differently on odd and even pages (as you would see in a book).
  • On the first page, include your name and contact information (email, phone, and mailing address) at the top, along with the word count. Some publications will specify that you put this information in the top right and others, the top left. Some will say to put this in the header and others will specify the top of the page, so expect some variation, but the key is not to omit this critical information.
  • For all other pages, add a header with your last name, short title, and the page number. There may be some variations on this, but the main thing is to have this information in a header, not on the page itself.

Don’t let formatting paralyze you. In most cases, editors will overlook a minor deviation or two. Following conventional formatting (along with great writing) will help get your book published.

[This is adapted from Peter’s post How to Format Your Submission.]

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

When it Comes to Writing Submissions Are You a Rookie or Professional?

Consider these traits that separate a rookie and professional writer.

When you submit your writing, do you come across as a rookie or a professional? Consider these rookie traits to avoid and these professional characteristics to pursue.

Rookie or Professional:
You May Be a Rookie Writer If You…

  • Forget to spell-check your work: This is simply inexcusable.
  • Leave “Track Changes” on and include your reviewer’s edits: This means you were in a hurry or haven’t yet mastered your word processor.
  • Submit the wrong version: This error tells me you’re not organized.
  • Assume the submission guidelines don’t apply to you: Guidelines are for the writer’s benefit. Therefore, learn them and embrace them.
  • Insist no editing or require approval of all changes: All submissions will receive a robust edit. That’s a reality of periodical publishing. The only exception is publishers who don’t care about quality 0151and do you really want to be associated with poor quality?
  • Think artistic formatting equals creative writing: The use of italic, underline, bold, and all caps to add emphasis is not a sign of writing creativity but a lack thereof.
  • Insert needless self-promotion: If you do this once, I may edit it out; if done too much, I’ll simply reject your submission.
  • Argue to have your work accepted: No means no—and there’s no discussion.
  • Beg for feedback: A writer who needs help with his or her craft should seek it from a different source prior to submission.

Rookie or Professional:
You Are a Professional Writer If You…

  • Produce articles that require few edits: You do whatever it takes to submit your best work.
  • Do what you say: When you promise a piece, you always deliver.
  • Meet deadlines: Deadlines keep a magazine’s production schedule on time. Therefore you respect deadlines, always meeting or exceeding expectations and never requesting an extension. You also understand that merely submitting your piece on time doesn’t guarantee a place in the next issue.
  • Know your target: Be familiar with the publication you’re submitting to, understanding its style and content.
  • Understand how the industry works: You comprehend periodical lead times and space limitations; you accept edits and deferred publication.
  • Minimize non-work-related communication: You keep your communication focused on business and don’t engage in superfluous interaction.

I’m not expecting perfection, but striving for excellence is a worthy goal all writers should pursue.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.