HERE IS THE THIRD IN MY SERIES OF FREE CRABBIT’s TIPS FOR WRITERS. For today’s tips, either read them below or go here for the free downloadable pdf to print out and pin above your desk. Enjoy and pass on! This one is particularly for those who are new to this business of submitting to publishers. It’s crucial stuff and I’m sure regular readers of [my] blog already know it because I say it quite often . . .
[The original post can be found on Nicola’s blog Help! I Need a Publisher! – Ed]
CRABBIT’S TIPS ON APPROACHING AGENTS AND PUBLISHERS
1. Research to find agents/publishers who handle the sort of book you have written. If they don’t, they won’t.
2. If the agent/publisher has submission guidelines (usually on their website), follow them strictly. If they don’t specify something, follow the standard rules, as found on my blog and many others, and in other good written resources.
3. If you decide to go the wacky route and break a standard rule, don’t be surprised if you are rejected without response. Your sense of humour may not be the same as the person you are writing to.
4. A standard submission for fiction consists of letter, synopsis and approximately the first 10k words, and for non-fiction contains letter, proposal (including outline or synopsis) and some form of CV as well as the first 10k words.
5. If submitting a novel, you must have completed it before approaching agents/publishers. If submitting non-fiction you need not.
6. Never do a blanket submission or use a submission service – each approach must be personal.
7. Never hassle an agent or publisher; do not thrust your manuscript at them; do not pitch or bug on Twitter; do not vent your frustration in public (your blog is public). Never criticise them for how long they’ve taken or anything they’ve said or not said. They talk to each other.
8. Understand the many reasons why they say yes and why they say no. It’s not just about your book, so don’t take it personally. (Reading Write to be Published will show you all the reasons, so you can avoid them.)
9. Be prepared to be rejected, often. It’s not a lottery but it’s a very difficult game.
10. Be methodical: research before and record afterwards.
11. Expect to wait up to six weeks for a reply. If you haven’t had a reply by then, it’s fine to send a very polite email asking if they are interested. If they don’t reply to that, treat it as a rejection. Don’t contact them again.
12. Are you allowed to approach several at once? Yes, with caution. Don’t mess them around, especially agents who may work on their own and whose time is very valuable, and unpaid. So, be up front: if you are sending to someone else, say so, which gives them a chance to chip in with a request for you to give them a period of exclusivity. With publishers, feel free to send to a couple of others at the same time but a) not if you’ve been asked not to, and b) don’t mess people around. Be up-front and professional. They do understand that you can’t wait six months for every reply but they need you to understand how busy they are too.
13. Do not include gifts in your submission. Or photos, naked or clothed. Or confetti. Or anything except the submission.
14. Get advice only from people who have either been published by proper publishers or who have worked in the industry. Lots of people give advice when they [don’t know].
15. Be writing your next book while submitting this one. If you only have one book in you, you are not a great prospect for a publisher or agent. Also, if rejections come in, it’s a comfort to you to know you have another book in progress. Besides, it will be better.
16. Some people break all the rules and get published. You could cross a road blind-folded and not get run over. That doesn’t mean that crossing the road blind-folded is a good way to live a long life.
17. In your covering letter never boast or over-egg your book’s qualities. Don’t mention film rights or how the agent/publisher is going to be rich. Don’t tell the recipient that he/she will love the book or in any way tell them their job.
18. Writing a synopsis is nothing to get stressed about: I have masses of guidelines and examples on my blog and am soon publishing a book, Write a Great Synopsis – An Expert Guide.
19. Do not submit your work while drunk or otherwise likely to act even slightly unwisely.
20. Eat chocolate and drink coffee, and generally be kind to yourself but very tough on your work.
That’s it – simples.
GOOD LUCK AND WRITE WELL!
— Nicola Morgan