Basic Submission Package

If the guidelines don’t specify what’s expected in a submission package, what is the norm?

This is what I like to see and it would probably satisfy most publishers who don’t specify what they want.

  • Query letter—1 page
  • Outline/synopsis—a chapter by chapter breakdown of the basic plot line; 2 to 3 sentences per chapter. And yes, I want the ending.
  • First three chapters
  • SASE (I actually prefer to reply by e-mail but some publishers prefer the letter)

You can read more details here.

A Few Submission Guideline Links

I keep hearing about checking the publishers’ websites for submission guidelines. I’m not that computer savvy. I went to a couple of sites and I can’t find it. Help!

I’m in a good mood, so here you go. If your publishing company is not on this list and you want it added, put your info in the comments section.
Cedar Fort
Deseret Book
Millenial Press
Spring Creek
Wind River
Zarahemla Books

I’m Not Testy; I Have a Positive Self Image

Found in the comments section of yesterday’s post. I moved it here because a lot of people do not read comments and he has a legit concern, complaint. A lot of first time authors ask these kinds of questions. (Although most of them do not call me “testy” or refer to my treatment of their ideas as bull-dozerish.)

Why is that editors get so testy when an author dares to tread upon their creative world and suggest a cover design or a title, but they drive their bulldozers all over the author’s creative world like so much ado about nothing. I know. Covers are what they pay your for. Editing is what they pay you for. But for heaven’s sakes, will there ever be an editor humble enough to recognize that an author just may have a good sense about a cover that will market their book well. Or that an author just may have a better title than the marketing guys across the hall. Probably not!


When I went back to the comments to copy and paste them, I discovered that Robison Wells had answered the question—and he is dead on. Here is Rob’s reply.

Anonymous, I like to compare it to royalties. There’s a reason that authors only get 5-15% of a book’s cost: it’s because the author is only one piece of a very large puzzle. It’s a vital piece, certainly, but it’s still only one piece.

If an author has as much good marketing sense as you stated–if they know that their title/cover/marketing ideas are great–then why not just self-publish? Richard Paul Evans is the perfect example: he was a professional marketer, and he’s made gobs of money.

Besides, most publishers are very willing to discuss titles and covers (though they’ll almost all maintain veto power), but they don’t want to look at those ideas during the submission process. You, as the author, are asking them to make a very big investment in you; the least you could do is show a little professionalism and respect submission guidelines. There will be PLENTY of time to discuss titles and covers and illustrations once your book is accepted.

I would add a few things, based on my 26 years in the industry as a professional (I just love that word) editor and/or publisher:

  1. If you submit a good title, we will keep it! We kept the author’s original titles on the last two books we published. Others titles I tweak by one or two words. Sometimes I’ll reject the original title, but have the author send me a list of alternates. Usually I can blend that into something really good that the author is happy with. But creating titles that sell and writing a story are two entirely different skill sets and some are just really, really bad.
  2. I have never, in 26 years, seen a book cover created by an author and sent with the manuscript submission that was anywhere close to usable. They are usually way too dark, use clip art and dated fonts, and don’t have an appropriate balance to the design. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, or you don’t know why these would be a problem, then don’t try to make your own cover.
  3. I have, a couple of times, had an author who was also a graphic artist. After their books were accepted, they very professionally asked if I would take a look at their ideas. Of course I did. These two covers were wonderful. One we kept exactly as it was. The other we had to tweak a little to fit in the bar code. The point is, they approached me about it after acceptance.
  4. The publisher always retains veto rights. As Rob said, if I am going to invest thousands of dollars in you and your book, I need to control that investment in the way that my experience tells me works best. If title and cover art are deal breakers for you, then by all means, self-publish.
  5. You’re assuming that the author will not like my title/cover art better than what they’ve created. Most of our authors love what we do with their books—even if we don’t use any of their suggestions.
  6. I never, ever bulldoze my authors’ creative world. I’m not investing in a one book deal. I want this to be an ongoing relationship. I want my authors to be happy. At the same time, I am not going to let an author sink a book due to personal preferences. We test our titles and book cover designs on our target market and run them past at least a dozen design, marketing and publishing professionals before we finalize something.
  7. And one last comment: You, as an author, have to invest a certain level of trust in your publisher. You have to believe they know what they’re doing, that they will make decisions based on what is best for your book, that they are current on what is hot in the market, and that their years of experience are more valuable than yours. If you don’t trust your publisher enough to title your book or design your cover, then you’re with the wrong publisher.

Have I answered your questions?

10 More Things Not to Do When You Submit a Manuscript

Here’s another list of things not to do when you send your manuscript (based on true-life examples from manuscripts that I have received in the past 30 days):

1. Do not single space. I know I’ve said this before, but apparently I have not stressed it enough. I CANNOT read, let alone edit, a manuscript that is single spaced.

2. Do not leave large spaces between paragraphs and type [Insert illustration here]. Especially for a book intended for adults.

3. Do not send illustrations with your adult-audience book.

4. Do not tell me in those big gaps [See illustration # whatever] and expect me to go looking to the back of the book and hand count the illustrations to get to the page number you want me to look at.

5. Do not 3-hole punch the manuscript and send it in a 3-ring binder.

6. Do not put your manuscript pages in sheet protectors and send them in a binder.

7. Do not design a cover and send me a color print out of it. We won’t be using it and I don’t need your sample to visualize what the front of your book could look like. I’m a professional. Visualizing covers is what they pay me to do!

8. Do not print your manuscript double-sided on the paper.

9. Do not send your manuscript, then call me two weeks later and ask if you can bring me a new copy because you’ve re-written a significant number of scenes. If I’ve already started reading, you’ve wasted my time. If I haven’t already started reading, I’ll think you’re a nut case.

10. Do not drop by my office (without an appointment) and ask if I’ve finished reading your manuscript yet, and when I say no, ask if you can “borrow” it back for a few weeks because your daughter-in-law wants to read it and you don’t want to spend all that money on paper and ink to print out another copy and you don’t mind at all looking through my huge stack of manuscripts to find yours.

Sometimes I think I’m a wonderful person simply because I never resort to physical violence.

Behind the Scenes Acceptance Process

Can you tell me what happens when you receive my manuscript? Do you have a first reader that sifts through all the manuscripts and then passes on his/her picks to you? When does a manuscript go to outside readers? Do all publishers use committees to decide the fate of a manuscript? Who has the final say? Do you follow the same procedure with all manuscripts?

I have an assistant who does a pre-read and sorts them into piles–ones I will probably want to read and ones that I will probably reject. We’ve worked together for a long time, so she’s pretty accurate at guessing what my response will be. If she really likes something, I put it at the top of the pile.

I go through the rejection pile first because those are pretty obvious and there’s no need to keep those authors waiting. I write my own rejection letters–most of them are form letters, but sometimes I offer suggestions on what to improve.

The manuscript goes to outside readers if the in-house staff likes it enough to consider publishing it. We need to make sure it will appeal to a fairly wide spectrum of readers.

If they’re smart, publishers have some type of committee giving them input. Who is on that committee depends on the size of the company. It may be the readers or it may be a group of employees, or it may be an official committee which includes the finance and marketing departments.

Who has the final say? Depends on the company. It could be the head editor, the president, the marketing VP, or a majority vote of the committee. In my company, it’s usually a unanimous vote of the committee.

We follow the same procedure 99% of the time. Sometimes we’ll publish something that has a majority vote, but not very often.

How Not to Query

I received a query letter this week that I want to share with you because it’s an example of everything not to do. Most of you will know this already, but occasionally I get an e-mail from a blog reader that lets me know that some still need basic instruction. And that’s okay. That’s what I’m here for.

I am not going to poke fun at this letter because it’s clear they are trying their best. It’s not full of ego and attitude (my cue to poke as much fun as I want). Even though I’m fairly certain they will never stumble across this blog (they’re not LDS), I have changed the details so that even they won’t recognize themselves.

John Doe
123 My Street
My Town, XX


XYZ Publisher
My PO Box
My Town, UT

To Whom It May Concern:

I Am Currently Looking For A Publishing Company, For My Book, “Car Maintenance for Women”

This is my First Book, I will Appreshute Any INFORMATION You Can Give Me, Such as Proof-Reading, Typesetting and Such.

I Am Looking Forward to Hearing From You.

John & Martha

1. It’s handwritten. That is not appropriate. If you’ve written a book, surely you have a computer and could use that to write the letter. If you’ve handwritten your entire book, you will need to hire someone to type it before you submit. They can type your queries as well.

2. No phone number. No e-mail address. No SASE. You have not made it easy for me to respond to you. It will now cost me approx $1.50-4.00* to reject you (postage, materials, payroll; $1.50 if my assistant does it, $4 if I do it myself). It upsets me when I have to pay to reject a query I should never have gotten in the first place. Sometimes, I don’t reply.

3. My name is not “To Whom It May Concern.” If you don’t know my name and can’t figure out how to discover what my name is, “Dear Acquisitions Editor” is a better choice. However, if you’re writing non-fiction or historical fiction, I will assume that either you do have research skills but are too lazy to use them, or that you don’t have adequate research skills, which calls your manuscript content into question. Not a good place to start.

4. I am an LDS publisher. It states that clearly on our website and all official materials from us. I don’t know of any resource list that we are on that doesn’t also state that. The title of the book makes clear that it is not an LDS book. Again, if you didn’t do enough research to determine if we even publish your type of book, see #3. (Now, Car Maintenance for Mormons…uh, never mind.)

5. If we publish your book, why do you need information on proof reading and typesetting? We take care of that in-house. If you’re talking about cleaning up your manuscript before submitting, it would be unethical for us to refer you to someone. Also, you never need to typeset your own book.

6. Spelling and punctuation mistakes in your query are not a good sign. Either you were not careful or you don’t know any better. Both options mean that your manuscript will require too much editing for us to consider it. Also, if you had typed your query using any of the standard word processing programs, the spell and grammar checks would have cleaned that up.

7. Who the heck is Martha? Co-author? Include her name at the top and mention that you are co-authors in the letter. Spouse? Leave her off.

There is nothing wrong with being ignorant. If you’ve never done something before, there’s no reason why you would know how to do it correctly. However, there is every reason to do a little research. Go to the library, pick a book–any book–on how to query and/or submit a manuscript to a publisher. One book, one afternoon of research, would mean the difference between being considered and an automatic rejection.

*41¢ postage, 6¢ letter, 1¢ envelope, 1.50 payroll (counting taxes, etc.) or $3.33 (what my company considers my time to be worth, even though they don’t pay me that amount)

Book with CD?

I have created a soundtrack for my book. Would it be useful to send in a CD of the soundtrack with the book? Should I list the songs and artists at the end of my book as notations for inspiration?

I thought this would make a Funny Friday question. But let’s pretend for just a minute that it’s serious.

I had to think about this for awhile. I’ve never had this happen with a submission (which is why it won the Never Heard That One Before question in last month’s question contest). I have, on occasion, talked with people who had self-published a book and a CD of original music to go with it. The concept was good, but the marketing created problems.

For a manuscript submission, my answer is: No.

If you’re talking about original music that you’ve created yourself, unless you are a professional musician with a studio, chances are your soundtrack would not be the level of quality that we’d want. If we’d even want a soundtrack with the book. So, no.

If you’re talking about songs you’ve collected that are already in existence and you’ve put them on a CD intending the reader to listen as they read, to help create the mood–sort of like a movie soundtrack–then again, no. THIS IS AGAINST COPYRIGHT LAWS!!

And no, do not put the list of songs and artists at the end of the book.

Submit your book as a stand-alone product. After it’s accepted, you can mention you have a CD (of original music) to go with it. If the publisher is interested, they’ll let you know.

Second Dates–How Soon is Too Soon?

If an author has several manuscripts ready for submission, how should they handle that? Should they send in the first one, wait until the contract has been signed, and then submit the second? Should they wait until the first book has come out? Or can they submit the second one sooner than that? Is it all right to submit #2 immediately after getting a rejection for #1?

If the books are part of a series, submit the first one and in your query, briefly mention that this is intended to be a series and book #2 is almost complete.

If the books are unrelated, wait until the contract is signed. Then tell your editor/publisher that you have a second book ready and ask when they would like you to submit it. If you’re a first time author, they’re going to want to see how the first book sells. If you’re an established author, they’re going to want you to churn them out quickly–1 to 2 per year, if possible.

Some authors are too prolific for the size of their publisher. When this is the case, you’ll want to make sure there is a clause in the contract that if they reject a title, you’re free to submit to other publishers at any time.

If book #1 is rejected, no, don’t immediately (as in the next day) send #2. If the publisher has given an indication of the reasons for rejection, evaluate book #2 within those guidelines. If their reasons have to do with genre, market, or other things specific to the publisher, you’ll need to determine if #2 is a better fit for them. If not, submit elsewhere.

If they’ve talked about structure, technique, plot, characterization, etc., you’ll want to rewrite book #2 to clean it up based upon their suggestions before submitting it.

If they’ve said, “We love this, but it’s not right for us. Send us something else ASAP!” then you can send #2 right away.

If You Call a Rose an Onion, It Will Stink

I worked for an LDS publisher who claimed you had seven words or less (preferably less) to grab a reader’s attention. The title was one of the key reasons buyers picked up a new book and we spent hours retitling purchased manuscripts.

Now I wonder–how important is a title during the submission process? Does a title ever grab your attention and cause you to lift a manuscript out of the ‘slush pile’? How do you feel about those manuscripts which are submitted simply as “Untitled”?

Seven words, huh? That sounds about right. And you’re right, a good title piques interest and will get a buyer to take the book off the shelf. I’ve toyed with the idea of hiring someone solely to generate titles. That would be nice. But in reality, it’s a group effort. We often run a list of titles by our readers and employees and see which one appeals to the most people.

As to how important your title is to the submission process–not very. Yes, sometimes an interesting title will invite me to read that mss first, but it’s the story and the writing that make the final decision. It’s a somewhat different skill set required for creating titles and for writing stories. Kind of like the difference between writing a novel and writing poetry. I never turn down a book based on its title. And I always reserve the right to change the title–it’s in my contract.

I have used author’s original titles before. Some of them are great. Sometimes I’ve tweaked them a little, or used them to start the brainstorming process. Sometimes they’re really, really bad–but a bad title is better than no title.

I really hate mss submitted as “Untitled.” A title brings focus to a story. A story without a title says to me that you don’t know enough about your story (bad news) or that you’re too lazy or that you’re expecting me to do all the work. My experience tells me that Untitled manuscripts are going to need lots of editing in other places as well.

So–brainstorm titles. Test them out on your friends and family. Pick one. Put it on your manuscript and submit. Keep your list of brainstormed titles so that you can offer other suggestions when the publisher asks for them. (Sometimes they will, sometimes they won’t.)

Too Funny Not to Post

Normally, I do not post on Saturdays. I like to pretend I have a life. But the truth is, I eat, breathe and sleep books and publishing. So, I was surfing today and found this link on Miss Snark’s blog. It is dated 5.11.07 and titled Slushpile. (You might be able to go directly to it by clicking here.)

(And before you tell me how to link directly to that post, it doesn’t work on Miss Snark’s site.)

Six of One…

If you had to choose between a manuscript that had a great story but was poorly written (needed a lot of editing) and a manuscript that was written beautifully but the story was mediocre, which would you choose?

Neither. Because I wouldn’t be able to sell either one (as is) and it would be stupid for me to invest the time, energy and thousands of dollars into something that would not be profitable for me.

However, if it was a really good story, I might give them notes and ask them to work on it–but that isn’t usually enough to bring it to publishable standards. (See yesterday’s post about rewriting.)

Second Chances

Do you ever give potential authors a “second chance” by allowing them to revise a manuscript and resubmit it?

If so, does that happen very often?

Under what circumstances?

Once you receive that revised manuscript, does it have a better chance of being published?


No. I assume that the author is sending me their best work. If their best isn’t good enough, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to revise it enough to make it publishable. Usually, they’re better off starting fresh with a new story.

For fiction, if I like the story line and the writing is pretty good, but they have a secondary story line that doesn’t work, or maybe the age of the characters is off for the target audience, or something relatively minor. But it has to be pretty good to begin with. I’m more likely to offer a second chance on non-fiction, if the concept is really good.

Yes and no. It has a slightly better chance, in that there was something intriguing about the original submission. If I hadn’t liked it, I would have rejected. But after that, it has the same chance as any other submission.

Taboo Topics

What subjects are “off limits” that you would not consider publishing, no matter how well written?

This is going to vary from publisher to publisher. However, in the LDS industry, there are some basic standards–for example, most are not going to publish books that celebrate or glorify lifestyle choices contrary to the doctrine of the Church. Most will not publish books that bash Church leaders or policies. Most will not publish novels with graphic sex or violence. Most will not consider books on the occult.

After that, you’re looking at individual preferences. Some won’t touch novels with polygamy in any form; others don’t mind it in historical novels. Many won’t publish “contemporary” topics (addiction, unwed pregnancy, homosexuality) in any form; others will, if it’s done tastefully and shows the consequences of poor choices.

I won’t accept anything that I think will upset or tick off the average LDS reader, even if I think it’s well written or it’s something that I personally like. For example, I received a submission a few years ago about an addict who turned their life around. I thought it was well written, had a great message, and that some LDS people would be touched by it. But I rejected it because too many people would be upset by its grittiness and I cannot afford to offend my readers. Other taboo topics at my company include homosexuality, child abuse, incest, the occult, gratuitous violence, descriptive intimacy, murder of children or real-time description of the death of children. Topics that would raise a flag, but might not be an automatic rejection are addiction, spouse abuse, infidelity, unwed pregnancy, loss of testimony.

How to Make Me Hate You in One Easy Step

I’ve heard it was a good idea to turn a page upside down in the middle of the manuscript to make sure it was really read. I was thinking, if I turned every other page upside down, not only could I tell if it was read, but I’d be remembered, too. What do you think?

I would much rather you hide a $20 bill around page 115.

Just kidding. Please do not send money.


Might as well finish the week on the same theme:

Don’t you think a fancy font would get noticed more than that boring Times New Roman or Courier? And, what about a few drawings, too? I’m a pretty good artist.


Because all editors are stuffy, stodgy, opinionated bores.

We want to make our own pictures.

And we don’t really like Courier either.

Publishers Directories

Is there a directory available that lists publishers and editors with their home phone numbers? I’d really like to call a few and ask them why they rejected my manuscript.

Thank you so much.

Yes. It’s 1-800-I’ll never publish your book in a million years!

Although the person who sent this question intended it to be humorous, it’s really not that funny when I get the call. (Yes, I get those calls. Usually when I’ve just dozed off for my Saturday afternoon nap.)

With all the resources available these days, it’s not too hard to track down a publisher’s personal info. Don’t do it! I guarantee, they will not admire your tenacity and gumption. Anything else you send them in the future will be an automatic pass. And they’ll probably gossip about you to their publisher friends.

[And it’s not just writers who do this. A million years ago, in a city far, far away, I was a drama critic for the local paper. I gave a show a moderate review, but pointed out several things that were sub-par in the performance. The director called me up and chewed me out–several times. From then on, I always wrote with a pen name. It’s also one of the reasons why this blog is anonymous. I can’t handle conflict. I buckle under criticism. I…well, fine. I just don’t want the aggravation.]

Tips to Make Your Manuscript Stand Out

I’m trying to figure out if it’s best to use designer perfume to scent the pages of my manuscript and cover letter or if it’s okay to just go with a perfume from Target?

The more expensive the perfume, the better. The stronger the scent, the more I will enjoy reading your submission. Don’t be stingy. Douse that thing. Or better yet, soak your paper in it over night, then line dry it before using it to print your manuscript. And if you have any left over, put the rest of the bottle in the package as a bribe.

Do I really need to give a serious answer to this? Yes, apparently I do, because I sometimes get scented submissions–particularly romance submissions.

I have also received submissions with:

  • the query letter hand-written in purple ink
  • the entire mss printed on neon paper
  • the entire mss printed in a calligraphy font (or script; or Curlz; or…)
  • confetti that explodes out of the envelope when you open it


Reader Comments

I have heard that you can request readers’ comments from publishers after you have submitted a manuscript to them. What is the best way to do this? In the query letter? A note after you have been rejected?

You can request them. You may or may not get them. Depends on the company policy. Some companies don’t mind sharing the comments; others won’t.

I would make the request in the query letter. Some publishers file readers’ comments and keep them for a long time. Others simply note them in their log and toss the originals, in which case, by the time you get your rejection and request to see them, they may be long gone.

FYI–Readers’ comments refer to the practice of editors/publishers sending pages out to trusted readers with a comment form. If all the comments are favorable, chances are you’ll be accepted. If they’re not, you’ll be rejected.

However, many submissions are rejected before they go out to readers. Readers are only involved after the editor and a few in-house employees give the manuscript a thumbs up.

Tangent question: What if the editors like it but the readers don’t, or vice versa? Who decides? The marketing department.

Resubmitting Rewrites #2

Let’s pretend I sent you a manuscript and your company liked it enough to ask for a rewrite. Then let’s pretend the rewrite got lost in the cracks: the editor who asked for the rewrite changed jobs, the rewrite sat somewhere in the office for several months and then was rejected after I called to inquire on its status.

Fast-forward several months and now let’s pretend the rewrite has been reworked, had professional input and editing, and is even better and tighter than before.

How would you want me to ask you for the chance to resubmit once again?

Okay…forget pretending. It really happened and I really want to resubmit it.

Okay, this is a slightly different question from the last one. Based on the timing of events, your rejection may have been a matter of cleaning house, rather than a true rejection based on the quality of your book. This happens sometimes when editors leave. It’s not fair, but that’s the way it is.

My first suggestion would be to try to track down your first editor and see if the company they’re with now publishes stories like yours. They might remember you and be eager to see your rewrites.

If that isn’t a possibility–because they’re in a different specialty or a different industry–then send a query reminding us that we’d liked the original enough to ask for rewrites, and that you’ve now done those rewrites based upon our previous recommendations. Give a few specifics about the changes.

This would be one of the few times I’d suggest sending the entire mss (or the first few chapters) vs just a query because the first thing I’m going to do is check my log. If my comments aren’t glowing, I’ll reject on the query. But if you’ve mentioned the issues in your query that I have listed in my log, and if I have a few chapters right there on my desk, I’m going to accept your challenge and read a few pages.

Resubmitting Rewrites #1

Is it taboo to rewrite/rework a rejected novel manuscript and send it back for review to the same publisher that rejected it?

No, it’s not taboo, but it isn’t often successful. Whether or not you can resubmit depends upon why it was rejected. If they gave you reasons that have something to do with your style or your story, and you’ve done rewrites to address that, then your chances are better.

Your best bet is to send it to other publishers, but if you’re really set on this one (and face it, you have limited choices in the LDS market), then send a query stating that you’ve rewritten and would like to resubmit. Be specific about how it’s been rewritten. Then cross your fingers and hope it works.

Big SASE, Little SASE

Howdy LDSP,

Is there really a point to sending enough postage to have a novel-length manuscript returned? Doesn’t it make more sense to just send the SASE for your reply?


No. There is really no point in sending a large envelope with postage for the return of your manuscript. By the time it goes through the mail twice, plus gets read through several times, it’s really beat up. You won’t be able to send that same copy to another publisher and most of the time, there will not be notes of any value in the margins.

If I do have notes that I think would be helpful to the author, I e-mail them and tell them that they have a week to send me a large SASE if they want the mss back. Then I date a stickie, slap it on the mss and put it on my assistant’s desk. If the SASE doesn’t show up by that date, I assume she tosses it.

A #10 SASE is all you need to include.

How to Spot an Amateur

What are some common mistakes that a first time or amateur author makes, that an experienced author does not? This can be both in writing and/or in submission.

Sometimes even experienced writers make these mistakes, but these are the ones that immediately pop into my mind.

Writing Mistakes:

  • Thinking your story is polished and done, when it is not.
  • Writing in a style that’s wrong for the genre.
  • Technical errors–grammar, punctuation, spelling.
  • Thinking the editor will (has time to) fix all the mistakes.
  • Failing to send mss out to qualified readers for critique.
  • Characters, plot, storyline problems.

Submission Mistakes:

  • Sending the mss to a publisher before it’s ready.
  • Sending mss to publishers who don’t publish in that genre.
  • Using the shotgun method of submission (sending out queries/submissions to every single publisher on your list without doing any research to see if your mss would be a good fit for them.)
  • Lack of research into the business side of publishing and the common how-tos for submitting.
  • Doing the research on how to submit, but ignoring the suggestions and doing it your own way because that shows you’re unique and creative. (Not.)
  • Poorly crafted query.
  • Making excuses for less than quality writing in the query; emphasizing that you’re a beginner and lack experience (I do not mean that you can’t state that this is your first novel. That’s fine. I mean going on and on about how you don’t really know what you’re doing and you hope I’ll overlook your ignorance and inexperience…)

Experienced authors, help me out. What am I forgetting?

Don’t You Dare Query an Unfinished Novel!

I like the new contest. Very interesting. So here is my first shot, and yes, this is a real question. 🙂

What is the benefit to submitting a query letter before actually writing the book?

Thanks for the blog. I love it. 🙂

If you are writing non-fiction, you do not need to complete the work before querying. All you need is well expressed compelling reasons that speak to the need for a book on your topic, a well developed outline (chapter by chapter breakdown and synopsis), the first couple of chapters, and probably some credentials. But you need to be prepared to finish the book very quickly after acceptance–within a few months, if not sooner. Some non-fiction is accepted because of its timeliness and if it takes 6 months or longer for you to finish it, it may not be timely anymore.

If you’re writing fiction, you ABSOLUTELY have to have a finished work before you query. An editor expects to see the finished manuscript immediately upon request. Also, many stories change as you write them. You think it’s going to go one way, and then the characters develop minds of their own and take it another way. It could very easily become a different book from what was described in your query.

Big Hugs

Although thanks to you, I no longer think ornery thoughts when someone doesn’t include a SASE with their submission (unless they want the whole mss back and expect me to foot the bill), I have to admit when I do get a SASE, it makes me smile.

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of SASEs with self-stick flaps. A big hug to all of you who are sending those. I just love them. It makes me feel pampered, cherished, spoiled rotten. 🙂

P.S. I’m all out of questions. Send more.

P.P.S. Is it time for another contest? What would you like to do?