Tuesday, September 8, 2015

It’s Time to Submit Your Manuscript

For all of you hesitating, now, after Labor Day, is the time to dust those manuscripts off and send them to agents and editors.

“Hold on there, missy,” you say. “Isn’t that what we do in January, the beginning of the year?”

“Well, that’s probably a good time too,” I reply, my confidence deflating nearly as much as those infamous footballs I can’t seem to avoid hearing about (for those of you living under a rock or perhaps in a cave, this is what I’m talking about).

Despite this, I feel pretty confident about my advice, which is this: the weeks after Labor Day is a solid time to submit your writing to agents, editors, and publishers. Why so positive? I’ve had two agents request I send my complete manuscript to them after Labor Day; the day that symbolizes (for the east coast and Midwest) the end of summer, something that never made sense to me. Down here on the Gulf Coast, we’re still in the middle of hot, muggy, summer weather. In fact, September is usually blazing hot. It’s not until October when we celebrate the beginning of our most beautiful season—Fall.

But (as you my dear reader are inured to) I digress. My intent with this post is to encourage you to submit your manuscript or manuscripts because early September is a solid time to get an agent, editor, or publisher’s attention. Of course, there’s no guarantee, there never is for anything, even so, it’s worth the effort.

Before you send out, here are a couple of reminders:

1  1. Make sure your work is as perfect as possible (I’ve talked about revision on this blog ad nauseam, so don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you again).

    2.  Research the agent, editor, or publisher you’re submitting to by
a.     Reviewing the info on their websites,
b.     Making sure what you’re submitting is really what they want. How to know? Subscribe to Publisher’s Marketplace. It’s only $25 a month and a good short term investment until you land that agent, editor, or publisher. It lists sales, etc.

    3. Compose a basic query letter (This is from Jane Friedman's blog.)
a.     Personalization: where you customize the letter for the recipient
b.     What you’re selling: genre/category, word count, title/subtitle
c.      Hook: the meat of the query; 100-200 words is sufficient for a novel
d.     Bio: sometimes optional for uncredited fiction writers
e.     Thank you & closing.

    4. Send to the five best agents, editors, or publishers at a time. Why five? I don’t know, it just feels right to me, besides it takes so long to compose a personal query letter, doing more than five at a time is exhausting.

5  5. Keep track of your queries on a site like query tracker.

6  6. With each denial, send out another query.
A word about denial, it hurts. As a recovering fund raiser and grant writer, I’ve developed a tough skin against getting turned down, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to feeling butterflies every time I get a response and feeling like a loser with every denial. That’s discussion for another blog, maybe next month.

7. Rinse and repeat until you find the one interested in your work.

For a variety or reasons, I’ve decided it is in my best interest to get an agent to represent me, so I’m not just advising, I too will be submitting my latest YA, so we’ll be doing this together. Good luck to both of us.
Happy Writing, Gabriella
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