“You don’t close a sale, you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term successful enterprise.”—Patricia Fripp
Long before Depression Hates a Moving Target was published, and especially after, writers have asked me how to find an agent or publisher. Having submitted books and shorter works for publication, I have experience to share. I tailor my suggestions to each individual, depending on where they are in their career, what genre they write, and their personal goals.
But one bit of advice never varies.
If you want to get published, you have to know how to follow directions.
During the submission process, this means finding and following submission guidelines. Most agents and editors (as well as contests, competitions, and publications) provide specific, detailed guidelines on their websites explaining exactly what, where, and how to send your work. They are usually hidden (in plain sight) under a link titled “Submissions” but you might also find them on a contact page or similar link.
There is no “standard” submission process. One agent wants a query first. Another wants the first ten pages. An editor might want nothing short of a full book proposal from the get go, while another wants only the synopsis. Your job is to do your homework, figure this out, and give them exactly what they want.
Why is this so important?
It’s about developing a relationship.
Let’s assume you can write well all day long, have an interesting and marketable story, an author platform, and are lovely to look at. If you’re difficult to deal with, no one as busy as folks in the publishing industry have time for you. Failing to follow instructions is a red flag.
If, like me, you’re not fabulous at logistics, get help. Ask a more detail-oriented friend to look over your shoulder before you hit “send.”
These are not just hoops you must jump through. Your job is to make it easy for the publishing folks to say “Yes”—not only to your lovely work—but to you as the author, as someone with whom they look forward to working. Developing a great relationship from the outset will serve you well.
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