Last year, Three Rooms Press editor Constance Renfrow was featured on DIY MFA, offering advice for submitting your novel to book publishers small and large. Now, as submission season starts up in earnest again, we thought we would share some of her wisdom (and general snarkiness).
Research the Company First
You might think that all publishing companies are, in essence, the same, but actually you’d be surprised. Some companies specialize in fanfic (apparently), others work only with literature so highbrow you could make a terrible fivehead joke. Or photo collections or homemade sex toy how-tos. Be sure the company you’re about to query has recently published something similar to your book
Check for Dumb Mistakes
This seems overwhelmingly obvious, but you’d be surprised how often authors forget it. It takes the trained eye approximately 0.02 seconds to notice the glaring typo on page one of a submission. And sometimes we editors are so stressed/exhausted/cranky that reading, “The tour-tooted animals” instead of the four-footed ones in the manuscript we’re looking at on our 4 p.m. lunch break is just the dose of hilarity needed to dissolve us into a dripping puddle of laughter-tears.
Know You Are Never the Editor’s First Priority
I know this is a tough pill to swallow, but take it now before it damages your career: unless you’re a hugely imposing bodybuilder, you are never, and never will be, the editor’s first priority. Just accept that you won’t hear back about your submission for at least three months, and then go back to checking your email every half-minute like everyone else.
Tell Us How Awesome Your Story Is
Humble-bragging may be the hot new thing for impressing Facebook rivals, but your query letter should never tell us why we don’t want to read Twilight Abbey after all. I’ve received a vaguely appalling number of one-sentence queries that can be summed up as: “Here you go.” Sometimes they even say: “This isn’t all that special but it’d be cool if you can give it a try.” Lamentably, very few editors are that cool.
That being said, please don’t tell us how your zombie-themed epic poem is going to earn you the next Nobel Prize or how a corner psychic once told you you’re the reincarnation of Charles Dickens. Overwhelming cockiness will get your book about as far as crippling self-doubt, so just tell us what your book is about, honestly, succinctly, and awesomely.
So there you have it. A few 3RP-approved tips for getting your manuscript into the acquiring editor’s hands, and keeping it there. Read the full article here, and when you’re ready, read our submission guidelines here.