Permission granted to use the following article in your publication providing you follow the guidelines here.
Avoid the Big R and Get the Contract
By Ashley M. Christman
Before I became an editor, I was a author—heck, still am an author. So believe me, I know what it’s like to have to write a synopsis, query letter, and send your baby off in hopes of acceptance by a publisher.
As writers, we like to think of editors as being the big bad wolf. They’re the enemy. They don’t understand your brilliance or see things the way you do. Their sole purpose for existence is to tear apart your work and they receive great pleasure in telling you no.
That’s not true. Not even half.
As editors, we diligently go through the slush pile hoping to find gems. Great care goes into the decision to accept or reject. We hope to find a piece that makes us feel something and that we as readers can connect with. Remember, the main reason we became editors is because we were readers first.
That being said, here are some tips to help you avoid a rejection and get a contract:
- Follow the submission guidelines.
Yes, we know it’s a pain having to reformat your manuscript for every publisher you send it to, but this is a test. Okay, not really, but you do need to be able to follow basic instructions. You are being judged on everything to the content of your manuscript to the presentation. So if the guidelines say, short query letter, 1-2 page synopsis, and the first fifty pages, it means send exactly that.
Which brings me to the next point…
- Always double check your grammar and spelling.
The biggest pet peeve most editors have is an author who doesn’t bother to use spell check or a dictionary. Glaring typos are a big no-no and poor grammar is a big no-no. But that doesn’t automatically equal a rejection if I find one or two. But if your manuscript is full of them, I’m going to be less likely to finish reading through it. If you expect me to take the time to read your manuscript, I expect you to take the time to edit it.
- Please don’t submit a first draft.
Yes, we will edit it upon acceptance and your manuscript will change a little (maybe even a lot) during the course of editing, but that doesn’t mean the version you turn in should be a draft. Take care to submit a final, polished version. Think of it in terms of this: If your manuscript were to go straight to print tomorrow (it wouldn’t happen that way), then submit the version you’d want printed.
- Research before you send.
Things will be a lot easier for both of us if you do a little research. Double check the length requirements, what genres the house publishes, and please, please, please, make sure they’re open for submissions. If you don’t you’ll be sorry.
- Above all, remain professional.
If your manuscript does get rejected, take it with a grain of salt and keep trying. Don’t send nasty letters/email back to the publisher. By remaining professional you increase the odds of being accepted for a later manuscript. Besides, publishing really is a small world and you don’t want to develop a reputation for being hard to work with or a pain in the backside.
Now that you’ve read the list, what else is there to say? Go forth and submit. I hope to read your manuscript soon.
About the author:
Ashley M. Christman is an editor for Museitup Publishing and an author. To learn more about Ashley, visit her website www.ashleymchristman.com or follow her on twitter (@AMChristman).