You’ve edited your 50,000 word novel–now what?

First off I would like to say Happy Holidays to the half-dozen people who read my blog. I hope it has been informative, or at least entertaining.

In my last blog I made suggestions for editing your novel once you’ve completed an initial draft. Assuming you’ve completed the editing process, you are now ready to begin submitting your manuscript to publishers and agents. This process can be almost as much work as writing a novel, and in this blog I wanted to give a few tips for navigating the process.

  • Take the time to learn about an agent or publisher before you submit to them. Our website says we do not accept paper submissions, yet we average two queries a week to the PO box. What do you suppose these queries say to us before we’ve even opened them? What they say is that you haven’t taken the time to learn anything about Divertir Publishing and you probably haven’t visited our website. What books has an agent recently represented or a publisher recently published? Does the agent or publisher even accept submissions in your genre? Have there been any complaints about the agent or publisher on sites like Writers Beware? Targeting your queries to the agents or publishers that will most likely be interested in them will greatly increase your chances of getting published. Checking out agents and publishers before submitting will also help you avoid scams.
  • Follow the submissions guidelines. Just as an author sending a query to the PO box tells us something, so does a query from an author who has obviously read the website but not followed the submissions guidelines. Does a query that does not follow the guidelines tell us you will be easy to work with, or does it suggest you think you are a “special snowflake”? Our submission guidelines are set up to allow us to review several queries in a short period of time. If nothing else, failing to follow the guidelines (for example, sending a complete manuscript and stating you feel we really should read the whole thing) tells us you think your time is more valuable than ours. It’s not.
  • Networking is just as important in publishing as it is for a job search. During National Novel Writing Month in November I attended several write-ins and gave my business card to over one hundred aspiring authors. It may surprise you when I say this, but past experience suggests I will receive queries from only a few of them. There could be several reasons for this: perhaps the authors never finish the novels they told me about, or perhaps they have decided a small press is not the right home for their work. But one thing to consider is that most people, including agents and publishers, would prefer to work with people they’ve previously met because it removes an unknown. You should treat getting published in the same way you would treat looking for a job, and this includes asking your social network for assistance. You might be pleasantly surprised by the response. One word of caution, however: harassing busy people is not the same thing as asking for assistance, and you should make sure you’re not doing the former.
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