Think Twice Before You Hit ‘SEND’
By Darlene Fredette
Did you check the publisher’s submissions guidelines? Is your manuscript their requested font style and size? Do your margins and spacing meet their requirements? Does your query letter include the pertinent information?
As an editor, I see many query submissions and I’m very surprised as to how many queries do not follow submission guidelines. Eighty percent of submissions do NOT include all the details requested, and when we open the manuscript and see it full of typos, we wonder if the author even took the time to proofread their story.
Let’s rewind the clock here for a moment. We need to get through the opening email query first. When important details such as genre type, word count, heat level, previous writing experience, and address...(which were all clearly stated in the submissions guidelines)...are missing, we’re already forming an opinion of the author’s attention to detail even before opening the manuscript attachment. And if the guidelines state attaching your chapters, then why do so many queries include them in the body of the email?
One of the most important elements we expect to see in a query introduction is professionalism. When we read an email that has, ‘Hi, my manuscript is 54K, below is a synopsis, looking forward to hearing from you’, our expectations are lowered immediately.
Want to make an initial good impression on the submissions department? Think twice before you hit ‘SEND’. Make your query email shine. Start with making a check list of the publisher’s guidelines. Be sure to include all the information they’ve requested. Add a synopsis and your chapters, or attach them if that’s how the publishing house expects to receive them. Go through your manuscript one final time. Check for typos, set your margins, spacing, font style and size to their guidelines. And most important, be professional. These are the main elements that can push your submission to the top of the pile or the bottom.