Author Topic: Tips for Submitting to an Agent or publisher  (Read 13295 times)


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Tips for Submitting to an Agent or publisher
« on: January 12, 2007, 10:51:58 AM »
I would invite all members with the relevant experience to provide information on this topic for the Authors Resource Centre to help other members.

Can I ask you not to go "off topic" in this forum as the ARC is for information only, to help the members understand the importance of getting it right for submission to a publisher.

Many thanks


Offline Jillanne Nehls

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Re: Tips for Submitting to an Agent or publisher
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2007, 12:23:21 PM »
The first tip would be to make absolutely sure your manuscript is as perfect as it can be. Gone are the where publishing houses and/or agencies will hold a writer's hand and do extensive editing. They simply have to many submissions to sift through and the bottom line is priority.

Always bother to find out who the agent or editor is of each company you submit to. They really hate mis-spelled names, Dear Sir, Dear Madame, To Whom It May Concern, etc.

Learn how to do good queries and get the synopsis right. They are your #1 selling tools.

Find a good editor to be sure everything is just right.   :D

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Re: Tips for Submitting to an Agent or publisher
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2007, 01:40:25 PM »
Many thanks Lin :)


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Re: Tips for Submitting to an Agent or publisher
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2007, 12:43:28 PM »
How to write a synopsis:

From the following link -

As writers we know that writing a synopsis can prove to be harder than writing the actual novel. Why is this? Because a synopsis is our selling tool. It's what the editor/publisher will use to decide if you've written a novel he wants to sell. It's your ticket into the door of publishing and you can make or break it with your synopsis. Here are some tips to writing a synopsis that sells...

What goes into a synopsis?

It is an outline that describes the general events of your novel written in a present tense narrative form. Each editor/publisher wants your synopsis in a certain way and guidelines can be requested with an SASE (self addressed stamped envelope). Some want a 2-page synopsis while others want a more detailed 20-page. If there is no specified length, try to keep your synopsis to 10 or 12 double spaced pages.

What does an editor look for in a synopsis?

The editor wants to know what your character’s conflict is going to be and whether it is strong enough to hold readers to your novel. Then they decide how well you've built on that conflict throughout the story and whether it will hold the readers attention through to the end. The editor will also want to be convinced that your book fits in the genre that they publish – otherwise you’re wasting their time and yours.

**Remember: Editors usually read your sample chapters first. Once they’ve decided if they like your writing, then they read your synopsis to see if you have created a compelling novel.

Some key questions to answer in a synopsis

What is this story about?

Who are the main characters?

What do these characters want?

Why do they want it?

What stands in their way of getting it?

How to write a great synopsis

Write your synopsis in the present tense.

Focus on your characters and what is happening to them.

Give the editor a sense of the setting, tone and pace of your novel – they are your reader and you have to entice them.

Make sure you follow the editor’s instructions/guidelines for your synopsis. Some editors ask for short, single spaced synopses. Others like longer synopses that are double-spaced.

Don’t just reproduce the first pages of your novel. Make your synopsis as creative as you can but it must also be a true representation of your story at the same time.

Do not leave out your ‘cliff-hangers’. As hard as it is, you have to tell them exactly what happens in your book – this means everything!

Include all the sub-plots and how they interact/affect your main plot and characters.

Don’t include your character’s physical description unless it affects the plot in an important way (i.e. ‘Kathy’ has long brown curly hair, brown eyes, and a beautiful smile…etc. It is more of; ‘Kathy’s stubborn streak only increased her chances of coming to blows with ‘Richard’…).

Don’t include any secondary characters unless they are important to the plot and also affect your main characters.

Put your name and the book title in the upper right hand corner. Papers easily get shuffled and this helps keep your submission together.

Try reading your synopsis aloud to yourself. Listen to the flow of your sentences. You’ll find room for reconstruction by doing this and it will make all the difference for your synopsis. Also have someone read it out loud and listen to how it sounds as a second party – this will give you a good indication of what the editor will read/hear in your synopsis.

If you’re still having trouble creating your synopsis, try writing a brief descriptive paragraph like those found on the backs of novels. Try summing up your book in that way first. Be explosive. Then begin to expand it from there, making sure to include all the important events of your book and main character information.

**Important: If and when the editor requests to see your manuscript, make sure you mark your proposal/manuscript ‘requested material’ on the outside of the package so it will not get buried in the ‘slush’ pile. This will ensure that your editor will get your manuscript immediately.

Writing a synopsis is not an impossible feat and but it does take time, energy, and patience. When writing your synopsis, write with confidence. A synopsis is your way of selling your novel. Take your time in writing it but don’t take forever! These tips to writing a synopsis will only aid in making yours better. Good luck with your writing!

Offline Drad

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Re: Tips for Submitting to an Agent or publisher
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2007, 10:00:10 PM »
When at first you don't succeed ....... try,try again ;)
Learn to Love

Offline sammie

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Re: Tips for Submitting to an Agent or publisher
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2007, 07:00:59 AM »
Hello N.Mott ...thanks for info on Synopsis.....please clarify whether the name and book title (on upper right hand corner) should be on every page ????

would you be kind enough as to give info on "manuscripts" too please ????????????? :-[

Thanks again


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Re: Tips for Submitting to an Agent or publisher
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2007, 04:01:59 AM »
May I suggest Sammie that you send this member a Personal Message (PM) as the Authors Resource Centre isn't as popular as the rest of the forum and this member posted in January on this topic so maybe you could send a PM please.  Just click the PM button under the members name/photo


Offline Christopher Silva

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Re: Tips for Submitting to an Agent or publisher
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2007, 05:45:06 AM »
Here is some great advice:

These are brief guidelines for the format of a manuscript(MS) on paper. Increasingly often, submissions are made electronically, or the final copy is submitted as an e-mail attachment or as a disk. The formatting of the MS, however, remains pretty much the same.


Use white paper, black type, a clear, plain typeface — no cute or fancy fonts. Make sure your ribbon or printer or copier cartridge has enough ink to make a good dark copy all the way through.

If you use a spell checker in your computer, don't trust it to catch the common there/their, its/it's kind of errors: proofread your MS before you submit it.

One or two neat, clear, minor corrections on a typescript page is all right, but since most MSS now are computer print-outs, editors are used to seeing perfectly clean copy, and may be put off by by many visible corrections.

Spacing and Placing:

Type or print on one side of the paper only.

DOUBLE SPACE. Always. NEVER single, 1-1/2, or triple space.

A new paragraph is shown by indenting the first line a few spaces. DO NOT put an extra space between paragraphs.

If you compose in single space on a computer using letter style, there will be a double space between paragraphs. If you then instruct the computer to doublespace the MS, you'll get a quad space between paragraphs, which means your whole MS seems to be full of space breaks.

Where you want a space break — an extra space between paragraphs or sections — signify it with the # symbol centered, and an extra space below it, thus:


Do not justify the right margin of the text. ("Justify" means make it run straight down like a ruler, the way the left margin does.)

Allow decent margins on all four edges of the paper — about an inch of white space.

The Cover Sheet:

In the upper left corner, your name and address. That is, the name you want checks made out to, and your actual address.

(If you have an agent, you may say: Represented by Suchandsuch Literary Agent and their address, underneath your name and address.

Or your agent may replace your cover sheet with one that has their own name and address in the upper left corner.)

Nearly halfway down the page, centered, put the TITLE of the piece in capitals.

A couple of spaces below that, put your byline — by Jane Soandso — in lower case. Jane Soandso may be your real name, as above, or your pen name if you use one.

(Some of us put the wordcount on the cover sheet, down towards the lower left corner. Round the figure. If you or your computer figure it's 3432 words, put: 3400 words.)

First page of the piece:

Title and byline, centered, about halfway down the page.

Several spaces below that, begin the text. There will be only a few lines of text on this first page. All following pages should have in the uppermost left corner:

your name,

the title (if it is long, shorten it to an identifiable word or two), and the page number.

If your name was Askew M. Torque, and your title was The Gutwrencher's Twisted Sense of Humor, and the page was 151, the upper left corner of it would look like this:

Torque, Gutwrencher, 151.

(Compositors — people who actually set type — always told me they liked the upper right corner kept clear for their own uses. Of course, compositors are rather rare these days. Vonda says use the upper right corner. I can't; I am haunted by the reproachful ghosts of compositors.)

You may put your copyright line on the last page, but it is not necessary. Submission or any use of a MS now gives you copyright in it automatically. Be aware, however, that that copyright is not registered with the United States Copyright Office until you or your publisher register it.

Do not put directions such as "First North American Rights only." You will determine what rights in your piece you are selling to the publisher when the piece is accepted and you study and discuss the agreement or contract offered.

Don't staple a manuscript. Don't bind it. Use paper clips to hold short pieces together. Use rubber bands and a box for biggies.

Never, ever, send anything you don't have a copy of.

Submitting Manuscripts:

Never, ever, send anything you don't have a copy of.

Keep a submission record for each title you send out. Keep it in the folder or box with your copy of the MS. If you are submitting a number of pieces, each title should have its own folder with this submission record in it.

The submission record includes:

where the piece has been — each publisher, editor, magazine, etc. — and a copy of the cover letter that went with it each time, and a copy of whatever letter or message came back with it each time.

who has it now

where it is to be sent next (It's a good idea to make a list of where this MS is to be submitted, before it starts going out. Then if it is rejected you don't have to brood and dither and wonder if it is unworthy — you just send it to the next place on the list.)

The contract, when you get one, and all correspondence directly concerning the business history of the piece.

If you want the MS back, you must enclose a SASE, which means self-addressed stamped envelope. The stamps should be glued onto the envelope, not clipped or otherwise enclosed. Make certain the envelope is the right size and the postage is sufficient.

If you don't care about getting your MS back, say so in the cover letter, but still you should enclose a letter-size SASE with one-ounce postage, for the editor's reply.

This rule holds for any submission of any MS to anybody.

Who it Goes To:

Find out who the current editor is, in a journal such as The Literary Marketplace, or if you are submitting to a magazine, by checking a current issue of the magazine, or by calling the editorial department of the publishing house and asking the assistant whom you should send your MS to. If you cannot find the name, say Dear Editor.

The Cover Letter:

Be brief and civil.

If someone at this publishing house or magazine encouraged you to submit or resubmit, include a photocopy of their letter — don't assume the editor remembers.

Do mention past publications, focusing on your qualifications for this kind of piece.

Don't talk about unpublished work.

If you haven't published anything, don't say so.

Don't be confiding or boastful; stick to business. If you want to describe your piece, do it in a sentence or two. Editors are understaffed, overworked, and appreciate not having their time wasted. What you need to convey is something like this:

Dear Ms Swampthing,

Enclosed for your consideration is "Braburners of Blorb," 5500 words. It's science fiction with a fantasy element and a slight feminist twist. I appreciate your consideration of my story. SASE is included. Thank you.

Yours truly,

Harriet B. Stowe.

Never mention money till they do. They make their offer when they offer a contract, and that's the time to accept, dicker, or refuse.

It's also the time, maybe, to find an agent, waving the offered contract, and saying, Would you like to handle this (and my other work) for me? Because agents can dicker better than you can.

Never, ever, send anything you don't have a copy of.


PS. Thank you Ursula Le Guin, for this advice


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Re: Tips for Submitting to an Agent or publisher
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2007, 01:42:28 PM »
Zoe please see my PM to you

Lin x