Guest Post: Secrets of Success – How to Create Your own Publisher Submission Pack by Kev Woodward

August 12, 2013

I would like to welcome Kev Woodward from Words Worth Reading to the backwoods! He will be sharing how to create a publisher submission pack. This is great “need to know” information to have, if you are considering the traditional route of publishing at any time.

Even though the book market guides mentioned are relative to the the UK, the same rules of the game are the same anywhere. There are publishing market guides you must use and go by for traditional publishing. I know this from personal experience over 12 years ago now (golly, has it been that long already?) in a gambit with traditional publishing, so I know this is good info. Enjoy!

OK, so your manuscript is completed and your proofreader has returned it to you with all of the typos, spelling and grammar errors removed. So after all of the hard work writing, all that stands between you and fame and fortune is getting your masterpiece in print!

If you are opting to approach publishers directly rather than go through an agent or self-publish, you will first need to create a list of publishers who are currently accepting manuscripts of your genre.

How to find publishers

One of the best places to start to draw up a list of suitable publishers is by looking through the latest Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook which lists all of the main publishers and agents in the UK and Ireland as well as those that are overseas. The details of the publishing house or literary agency provided in the yearbook are concise, but they should give you everything you need to know.

Writing magazines and writing websites are useful sources of information too. They often contain adverts from publishers looking for new authors to add to their lists.

Approaching a publisher

Once you have your list of potential publishers you should create your publisher submission pack, which will include everything that is required by a publisher in one place.

The Publisher will appreciate this approach as it will save them a lot of to-ing and fro-ing asking you for the information they need.

What should be in your publisher submission pack?

Publishers often have strict submission rules and demand a certain style so your basic publisher pack will need tailoring for each publisher. Having a base pack from which to work saves you time and effort in the long run and goes a long way to ensuring that your manuscript is at least considered rather than being ignored.

It is crucial that you follow the style and submission guidelines that each publishing house or literary agency specify – it is likely that your manuscript will be immediately dismissed immediately if they can see that you haven’t followed their submission rules.

Keep all of the submission information and style guidelines for the publishers you’ve chosen to submit. A good way to do this is to draw up a table where you can easily hold this information, and access it each time you need it.

Almost all publishers and agents will request 4 basic documents as part of your Submission Pack. These are;

  • A cover letter
  • A synopsis of your manuscript
  • A samples from your manuscript, usually a couple of chapters
  • Author biography

So taking these one by one, here are some useful do’s and don’t’s.

The cover letter

Do’s:

  • One A4 page at most
  • Address it personally to the appropriate editor at the publisher
  • Say why you are approaching them as a publisher and explain how your manuscript fits with what they publish
  • Tell them why you think this story would sell well, showing that you know your market
  • Be professional in your tone and style
  • Proofread it before printing off the final version

Don’ts:

  • A ‘Dear Sir / Madam’ will not suffice, it shows a lack of preparation
  • Give your opinion or anyone else’s opinion on your work; the editor can decide that for themselves.

The Synopsis

Do’s:

  • Your synopsis should be a summary of the entire manuscript.
  • Write in the present tense
  • Outline the main plot and any key scenes
  • Make it obvious who the main character is, what their ultimate goal is, and who or what stands in the way

Don’ts:

  • Make it too long – 2 A4 pages at most
  • Conceal the ending
  • Leave any poor spelling or grammar errors

 The sample chapters

Do’s:

  • Include your favourite chapters because they probably will be some of your best writing
  • Choose one from the beginning of the novel
  • Double check they showcase your writing at its best

Don’ts:

  • Submit chapters that are really long – around 50 manuscript pages should be more than enough
  • Forget to do a final proofreading of these chapters to ensure spelling, grammar and punctuation is perfect

The author biography

Do’s:

  • Keep it short and to the point
  • Include information about previous writing successes or publication
  • Include anything that makes you or your life intriguing or particularly interesting as publishers will market writers as much as their books

Don’ts:

  • Create a biography that is over 1 A4 page in length
  • Brag, keep it factual

So there you have it. The insider’s guide to creating your very own publisher’s submission pack. Good luck, see you at the awards ceremony!

About the author:

For a professionally produced publisher pack created by writers for writers contact Words Worth Reading Ltd.

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AK Taylor

About the Author

AK Taylor

AK Taylor is an award winning YA author who has been writing novels since age 16. Beekeeper, outdoor sportsman, avid adventurer, and animal lover. Taylor lives in the backwoods of Middle GA where she continues to write stories.

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  • schledia says:

    Great post!

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