Monday, January 4, 2010

Gwen’s Book Manuscript Submission Rules - Pre-Rules

Gwen’s Book Manuscript Submission Rules - Pre-Rules
A guide to increasing your chances of publication with your chosen publisher.

There are some really easy rules to follow when submitting your book for publication. You may find that others have a different opinion as to what is important, but after more than 15 years of reviewing submissions and publishing books, here’s my opinion on the process. Let me re-stress that. THIS IS ALL MY OPINION. I sent out to the Twitterverse a question on what people wanted me to talk about, and this was the number one requested topic. So, in my own way I’m serving up what you want. Do with it what you will, but I do hope that it will help in some small way get you on the road to publication.

There are a couple of pre-rules you should first address as a writer (you may note that I will use different language in these earlier posts to later posts as we move on to other topics). First is that I will use "writer" as a generic term simply meaning "unpublished writer". Once you achieve publication you move on to the land of "author." This to me is a logical progression, because being an author today involves a lot more than just writing. That though, will come up in later posts.

Before Submitting to Publishers: The Pre-Rules
Pre-rule 1. Write a book--a complete book. If it’s a series, you should have at least a full synopsis for each subsequent book. If this is your "first" book heading out to submission try to sell a standalone--or a standalone with potential. Trying to sell a series is difficult at the best of times and since you are an unknown quantity odds are really good you’ll get rejected if it’s presented as an incomplete series. The risk factor is simply too high for most publishers. Save the series for when you are established as an author.
Pre-rule 2. Edit the book yourself several times.
Pre-rule 3. Run spell check. Seriously. While not error-proof, it should give you a general run through and maybe catch obvious errors.
Pre-rule 4. Turn on the grammar function of your word processor and check to see what it says. I’m not advocating that you change everything to match the programs "rules" (because I really don’t want you to do that), but I do want you to LOOK at the suggestions it makes--the program has good reasons for making those suggestions.
Pre-rule 5. Send the book out to critique groups, peer review, writer’s groups etc.
Pre-rule 6. Re-edit based on feedback.
Pre-rule 7. Put the book away for a period of time. Say 30 days. Work on something else. Don’t peek, don’t tweak, don’t even think about it. Spend your time working on Pre-rule 8.
Pre-rule 8. Start building your community. That means social networking: Facebook, Twitter (forgive me the prod, but go buy All a Twitter: A Personal and Professional Guide to Social Networking with Twitter'>Tee Morris’ All a Twitter for help on getting started with Twitter, and start building your website. The sooner you do that, the better. You can do it blog style for free with a number of services out there, but do invest in your own domain name and email address.
Pre-rule 9. Re-read your manuscript and polish it up one last time. Tweak your synopsis (keep it short!).
Pre-rule 10. Decide on your publication route (I’m assuming you are choosing to attempt publication with a traditional publisher at this time otherwise you wouldn’t be interested in submission guidelines), and build a plan to achieve publication.