Things to consider before sending your submission to an editor.
First impressions are everything, even in the publishing business where we rarely get to see our clients face to face. The sale is on both ends of the giving tree when it comes to getting your book on the market. As publishers we have gotten some very… interesting… submissions in our time at New Traditions Publishing, so here are a few things to look out for and consider before you finally send in your manuscript:
The first thing we do is scroll through and see what you have, you know, eye it up and down, see what you’re bringing home. If I buy you a drink, I want to know if you are worth approaching, or if you will just swallow it down in one go and leave with your friends.
As bad as that simile was, that metaphor was even worse. But at the end of the day, here’s the cold hard truth about it all: We have to decide if you are worth our efforts or not.
Where it is our job to fix formatting and errors and such, there is a certain level of knowledge you should have as the writer as far as basic structure goes. Here are some things that we have seen that immediately gave us anxiety:
- A full length book disguised as one whole sentence; including no quotation marks to signify conversations.
- Space before and after a period (Like this . Frustrating, right?)
- Too many exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!
- Too many bolded words
- Different fonts for different perspectives.
- Written in comic Sans or Arial font (eew)
Essentially, you need to make it professional. Presentable. Before submitting it think “At first glance, would I read a book written like this?”
Content has to be consistent. I’m sure you all have read a book or two that you either had to shelf or that you had to fight to get through because you could not follow what was happening. Keep your audience engaged. And on top of that make sure it is consistent.
Again, it is our jobs as editors to go through and edit and catch things, but it becomes much more bothersome if we are doing more than what was originally agreed on for the project.
Keep track of your word count and how long your novel is. To give you an idea Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s stone was 76,944 words long, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is 190,637.
As well we consistent content, it is ideal to have a set audience in mind when writing/editing. Do not write a book written for a YA audience with tons of sex scenes and swearing. Most people read out of their reading level anyways, and you should expect to see readers younger than your target audience picking up those books (Say you wrote a YA, which the typical age range is 12-18 years old, so you will see kids younger than 12 reading your books). Am I making sense? Anyways; Check for consistency!
- Know your book
You wrote it, you should know what is in it. That doesn’t mean I will quiz you on “What happened on page 27 line 10?”
What I mean by know your book is know what target audience you want. As publishers we will ask you that question, and we want to know your answer so we can either suggest a different one, or agree with what you have chosen.
- Do some of your own marketing
Building hype is one of the best ways to get your book sold. Think about it from the flipped perspective. Your friend writes a book and gets it published, wouldn’t you buy it to support them? Maybe add in a little bragging as well?
Again (I will say this for every point, so stay in your seats), it is our job as well to market your book as well, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t use a little help. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are some of the better tools you have free access to to help you.
- Here’s a few secrets about the trade
You should know what you are getting into before you actually get in to the wide world of authors and the intricacies of building a name for yourself.
There are five major publishing companies that run the market (called the Big Five, and formerly the Big Six): Georg von Holtzbrinck Publishing Group/Macmillan, Hachette (publisher), HarperCollins, Penguin Books, Random House, and Simon & Schuster. If you are not publishing through them, things will be different. I am not saying that you will have to pay necessarily, but there are certain demands that cannot always be met.
- Do a couple rounds of editing first
One thing that anyone who has had to edit a manuscript will tell you is this: No matter how many times you’ve read through it, you will always find mistakes. The trick is to read it until you feel satisfied with it before sending it in.
- Bite the bullet
Send in your manuscript, I dare you to. Heck, I triple dog dare you! *inset gasping from the audience*
But no, seriously, just do it. We know how nerve wracking it is to have your manuscript sitting under a composed email or have a couple hundred pieces of paper ready to be put in the mail. You will regret not doing it more than you will regret doing it. The worst thing that can happen is that it gets rejected, and from there you can move forward and find a different company and/or do a couple more edits and change some stuff up a little. Afterall, authors like Dr. Suess, C.S. Lewis, Stephanie Meyer, L. Frank Baum, Herman Melville, as well as many others had been rejected several times, but are now some of the most well-known authors in the game.
At the end of this there may be one lingering frustration in the back of your mind: “You are publishers, it is your job to do this stuff.” Yes, but, we are also professionals and money doesn’t grow on trees. Where we will publishing a book for free, editing takes up a lot of time in order to see it done well. At New Traditions Publishing, we are not in the business to make you bleed money, and the longer we spend on it, the more expensive it will get. So in order to save YOU money, as a respective client, it is suggested that you are mindful of basic things
Thank you for reading the article, and feel free to send me/New Traditions Publishing a message with any questions/comments/concerns regarding getting published.
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-The Great and Powerful Courtney