By Jordan Ardoin
Everyone who’s serious about writing has at least one goal in common: to get your book published. Unfortunately, another thing all writers have in common is the knowledge that getting a book published can be very difficult. Publishers receive anywhere from dozens to hundreds of manuscripts a month, and only about 10% of those end up published.
What can you do to set your manuscript apart from the rest and make sure your book is in that 10%? As in so many other professional situations, your first impression plays a big role in whether or not your book gets published. A publisher’s first look at your manuscript can make or break their decision to publish you. Therefore, it’s important to submit the best manuscript you possibly can and to submit your manuscript properly. Here are a few tips on how to do just that.
1. Polish, Polish, Polish
Poor structure and sloppy grammar leave a bad taste in the mouth of anyone reading your manuscript. Especially when that “anyone” has already read twelve sloppy manuscripts before starting yours. You want your manuscript to be a breath of fresh air, not another in a long line of headaches for a weary publisher. So, edit, proofread, edit, and proofread one more time before submitting. If you want to get your book published, you have to show the publisher your absolute best, and that means putting yourself through a rigorous and thorough editing process.
2. Include a Well-Written Query Letter
Many publishers will ask that a query letter accompany submissions. A query letter is basically a sales pitch that convinces a publisher or agent that your manuscript is worth their time. Your query letter is a first impression within a first impression, and it’s important that you write a good one. For detailed advice on writing query letters, check out our blog post on the subject.
3. Do Your Research
Research on your book can include information on possible target audiences, marketing strategies, or examples of similar books that have been successful. Including such information in your query letter shows the publisher that you are serious about not only publishing your book but also selling your book. Research on specific book publishers should include looking into what kind of books they usually publish and making sure your book is a good fit for them.
4. Follow Instructions!
Nothing looks worse for you as the author than when a publisher sets out specific, detailed guidelines for submissions and you don’t follow them. Take the time to read the publisher’s website thoroughly before submitting. Most publishers have a preferred format and want specific information included in your query letter or synopsis, and they will tell you all of this on their website. You worked long and hard on your manuscript; don’t ruin your chance of being published by making a careless mistake at the last second and not following directions.
If your manuscript is as squeaky clean as it can possibly be, your query letter is informative and formatted perfectly, your research has yielded loads of useful information, and everything is done exactly the way the publisher wants it, it’s time to submit your book! (Of course, you could always proofread one more time.)
Just remember, even if you take all of these tips to heart and follow them religiously, you will still get rejected sometimes. After all, only 10% of submitted manuscripts are published. However, by following the tips outlined here, you increase your chances of catching a publisher’s eye and achieving that ultimate dream of getting your book published.