Excerpt about Submissions from Speech, Post 3
Recently, I gave a one hour speech to a writing group and have decided to post segments of it here over the next few weeks. All of the speech is in response to questions I had received in advance and then prepared my answers for the group. This is Post 3 of the speech.
Remember, these are just my opinions and suggestions. Nothing is set in stone. Other writers could answer quite differently and argue with me over my answers. What works for one person may not work for another.
Some other points to remember that go along with query letters and submissions: You should create a synopsis and have it ready before starting to query agents or publishers because sure enough, someone WILL request a 1 – 2 page synopsis – and it’s very convenient to have it already prepared to send off at any given time. Be sure to follow any instructions on how that particular agent or publisher wants submissions/synopsis to be formatted – that info should be found at the website. An example would be that double-spacing is the norm for a synopsis – but NOT the query letter. SAVE all the original documents you create & you can always adjust it, or make a separate copy to alter, to meet specific requirements of whomever you’re submitting it to. That goes for the query letter, the synopsis, the manuscript, the first 3 chapters, etc.
By the way, within the query letter, that “hook” I mentioned, in case you’re unfamiliar with the term, is really just an incredibly short synopsis or summarization of the book! Sometimes it’s called a teaser.
Also, pick 1 or 2 excerpts from the book that are about a page long. They shouldn’t be spoilers, but make sure they capture the reader’s attention making them wonder what happens next. An excerpt might be requested by an agent or publisher (although usually not). Not only that, but excerpts are fantastic to use for marketing and creating excitement about your book right before and after it’s published.
Make sure the entire manuscript is formatted properly – using the standard recommendations found at those websites I mentioned. (A few examples: Hopefully as you wrote your book you didn’t use the TAB key, but instead used settings that will automatically indent the first line after a hard return – like when you’re ready to start a new paragraph. Another example: unless the submission guidelines request something different, use Times New Roman, 12. And margins are usually 1″ all around. These are only a few of the standard rules of thumb in formatting a manuscript – these aren’t “law”.) Some agents/publishers could request the manuscript be formatted a “specific” way so perhaps save another copy of your manuscript to play with and make those adjustments. I think I had 2 or 3 different formatted versions of my manuscript saved to my computer.
Speaking of saving – make sure you backup your work in whatever method you prefer – CD, USB Flash Drive, separate external hard drive or online backup. I use a flash drive AND backup online at Windows Live Skydrive. Just backup!
The next excerpt from my speech will be about making the choice between an agent or to submit directly to a publisher or to self-publish.