20 VALUABLE TIPS TO GETTING PUBLISHED
2000 James Russell Publishing
Despite the fact there are many books for
authors on how to submit manuscripts to publishers and agents, a condensed primer of good
advice is needed. Here are some valuable
tips to help you get your book published.
- You must have a
"completed" manuscript ready for publication. If all you have is a great
idea for a book and no product to sell you are wasting time and effort. Few
publishers will accept such submissions from unknown writers. Best advice?
Write the book then submit the manuscript to publishers and agents. Send the
manuscript in separate unbound sheets, unless otherwise instructed. However, if you
are an experienced writer, you may submit a book "proposal."
- Read books similar to what you plan to write so you have an idea
of how the writer communicated the subject matter. You could likely do better.
That's what you'll have to do in order to compete with other books much like yours in the
marketplace! Read about the publishing
industry. Learn how it functions. Read publishing law books. Publishing contracts are complex and intimidating
to the new writer. Be prepared so you
can act quickly if a publisher decides to publish your book. Publishers will not wait long for you to evaluate
the contract due to ever changing market conditions.
You could lose a publishing opportunity by not being prepared.
- Do not mention the word proposal in a query letter
unless it is a book proposal. Novice writers
often write, I propose to send my manuscript to your firm
publisher thinks the query is a proposal and not a finished manuscript leading to a
rejection for the unknown author.
- Purchase The Writers Market published by Writers
Digest. This book lists publishers and
agents. The book will allow you to target
your market. Writers often make the mistake
of sending query letters to publishers and agents that do not specialize in the genre. A waste of time and money for the author and asking
for a rejection.
- Send a query letter to any publisher or agent you want - even if
they are not open for submissions. It is not
illegal to send them mail. Often, if the
query is compelling to read agents and publishers will request your manuscript, even if
closed to writers who have no representation. Every
publisher and agent is looking for a bestseller, so send your query letter. Yes, many will automatically reject your
query, but you only need one to say yes. It
is not very expensive if you only submit a query letter with SASE.
- Send your query first class mail.
E-mail queries are not very effective. Always
enclose the SASE. Do not use cute and fancy
stationery or colorful postage stamps. Editors
see this and will place your query in the other file to be read someday or
never. Use a plain white envelope and a
business American flag stamp (if you have access to American postage stamps). Publishers and agents have a filtering process and
these are a few ways to identify amateur submissions.
Professional submissions actually appear unprofessional to those not familiar with
- Some publishers and agents require a synopsis or sample chapter. You can bypass this hassle and just send a query
letter. On the other hand, if you want to do
it right you can follow their submission procedures to the dime. Try the query first because there are a many
publishers and agents and it will be much easier and less expensive trying to comply with
all the submission procedures each will place upon you. This is one rule you can bend. Just make sure you have a strong query
letter to perk their interest.
- Your query letter should be only one page. Dont send a multiple page query letter. It will not be read. Agents and editors are very busy people and will
not read long queries. Do not rely on the
software spell-checker. They can't tell the difference between; there, their,
they're. Print your query and manuscript on paper and read it. Mysteriously,
your eyes will miss many errors using the computer monitor!
- If you must send a synopsis, keep it to two pages. Highlight the main story twists in a series of
brief four line paragraphs. Make it fast and
easy to read. Longer is not better. Learn to condense your writing and get to the
- Never send a manuscript unless specifically requested by an agent
or publisher. Break this rule and you are
asking for an automatic rejection. Its
a legal issue to prevent a lawsuit. Authors
who do this are doomed to fail. Learn all you
can about how to market your manuscript and follow the publishing industry standard rules
regarding submissions. Be professional and
you will absolutely see enhanced results for your efforts!
- Do not mail manuscripts to publishers and agents using FedEx Air,
Airborne or UPS. It does not speed up anything and will only serve to tip off an
amateur submission is being delivered. Send
the manuscript with the US Postal Service First Class, Special Standard or Priority. Dont ask for a signed receipt as it portrays
an element of distrust. If you want to insure
the publisher or agent received your manuscript enclose a Self-Addressed Stamped Post
Until you have established a working relationship with the publisher or agent
stick to this advice.
- Make sure you use a computer so you can deliver your manuscript
on computer disk if the publisher selects to publish your book. Surprisingly, publishers do obtain hand-typed
manuscripts and this can ruin a publishing opportunity for you. You cant go wrong using Microsoft Word (Mac
or PC) software to write your book. All
publishers can handle that program with ease.
- When you mail a manuscript it must be on white photocopy grade
paper, not computer disk (in most cases). Double-space
text is the standard with one inch margins. Fonts
can be 12 point New Times Roman, Arial, Courier or similar. Nothing
fancy. Do not send an original.
Send a photocopy or computer printed copy. Do not use any sort of binding unless
otherwise instructed. All pages must be loose
and in proper page order with no covers. Just
send the manuscript. Its that simple. Use a laser printer at 300 dots per inch or higher
resolution. In the page header print your
name or book title. Follow these rules and
youll have a professionally formatted manuscript.
- Include a cover letter with your manuscript. In the cover letter just identify the
manuscripts title, your name, address, phone, e-mail address. Dont try to sell the book in this letter
because that is what a query letter does; tease the reader to request your manuscript. The less you say in your cover letter the better
off you will be. Let your query letter do the
teasing and the manuscript to do the selling. There
are books at the bookstore that explain the difference between query letters, synopsis,
outlines and cover letters. You should read them!
- When shipping your manuscript to a publisher or agent use a
cardboard box or bubble envelope. For the manuscript S.A.S.E. use a smaller box,
Tyvek or corrugated cardboard envelope. Never send those cushion envelopes
stuffed with fine paper fibers. When opened they make a terrible mess
flinging dust fibers everywhere. Not a nice way to make a good first impression! It upsets all who open them, so dont use
these fiber-cushion envelopes. For a catalog of shipping supplies contact BrownCor
800-327-2278. Using a large bubble envelope to mail the manuscript and using a
smaller bubble envelope for the S.A.S.E. is practical. The most economical of all is
not to include the manuscript S.A.S.E. Print
another manuscript when needed. You'll save money in postage and always be
submitting a fresh, clean manuscript.
- Check the spelling and grammar in all your submission
materials. Be professional. Publishers and literary agents take seriously
writers who have a "finished " product ready for production. You should
always have your manuscript professionally edited before you send it to any agent or
publisher. This will absolutely reduce rejections and get your book published! Surprisingly, authors will not employ an editor
and then wonder why they cant get published. You
invested time writing your book. Now invest
money in editing so you can have your book published.
This is the leading cause of rejection and failure.
- You do not need to be a fabulous writer to be published.
You don't need a college degree. What you do need is writing and communication
skills to have a great book. You can obtain these skills from reading how-to
books. You can hire a professional writer to rewrite your
manuscript. Ghostwriters are listed on Web sites and in Writer's Digest
Magazine. Many famous authors use the services of ghostwriters. If you hire a professional ghostwriter or
editor to rewrite your script and query letter the odds increase dramatically of having
your book published. It is an investment in your success and the cost is tax
- It takes money to make money.
It is near impossible to be published and expect your book to be a bestseller if
you do not invest in professional services to bring your manuscript up to industry
standards. To save money on editing services
is a recipe for absolute failure. Good
editors and ghostwriters know more than the technical side of writing; they know how to
write a bestseller. They know what sells and
what does not sell and they know how to get the job done right the first time. Hire an independent editor or ghostwriter not
affiliated with an agent or publisher.
- Performing professional submissions with a professionally written
query letter is your best chance of getting your manuscript requested. Having your manuscript professionally edited will
get your book published. These are the two secret keys that open locked doors.
Having the best book manuscript in the world is useless if you have an inferior query
letter. Do not let your query letter destroy your opportunity to be published. Hire an editor to tighten your query letter. Writers who employ editors succeed. Those
who don't, fail. We have a sample query
letter on our Web site:JamesRussellPublishing.com
- You do not need a literary agent to be published, but they do
open markets to reach exclusive publishers. Small
press independent publishers should not be discounted.
They can give your book longevity on the market and are capable to launch and
manage bestsellers by employing subcontracts with larger publishers. Again, the key to success is submitting
professional material so the agent or publishers editor can see high quality in the
writing immediately. Quality sells!
By enhancing the quality and
marketability of your query letter and manuscript agents and publishers will be receptive
to you. Rejection may still occur, but you
will be amazed how many publishing offers you will receive once you invest in editing
services. Its a fact of life in the
publishing business. If you shop around on
the Internet you can easily negotiate the editing price of $3 to $5 per page down to $1
per page. Now thats not a bad
investment at all. - James Russell
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