Next up in my tips to help you publish your book, we look at the submission process and what it’s like–in a way, it’s like a long, loooong job application.

WHAT THE SUBMISSION PROCESS LOOKS LIKE
Each agency has its own submission guidelines, so make sure that you follow them. Fiction writers will send a query letter, and the opening chapters of their work. Some agents may also request a synopsis (which details the overall storyline).

WHAT SHOULD A QUERY LETTER INCLUDE?

  • The title of your book, genre and word count.
  • Elevator pitch: describe your book idea in a couple of sentences.
  • Blurb: much like the ones you see on the backs of books. It should give a broader overview of your story. What is your book about? Who is the central character? What is at stake for them?
  • Summary of appeal: what are there any comparative titles? Would your book appeal to fans of other authors?
  • Writer’s profile: include some information about yourself and if you have any relevant writing credentials like being shortlisted in a competition. 

The process is slightly different for non-fiction writers who will need to submit a writing sample of the first few chapters and a proposal. 

WHAT SHOULD A PROPOSAL INCLUDE?

  • Elevator pitch: describe your book idea in a couple of sentences. 
  • Longer pitch: give a broader overview of the book and the idea behind it. 
  • Your profile: an opportunity to talk about your background and explain why you are the right person to write this book. 
  • Outline: similar to a chapter outline or a synopsis, but it needs to have a clear breakdown of the entire book idea and its structure.

There are exceptions to these rules, so don’t assume each agency follows the same format. Just make sure you do your research and follow the guidelines of the agency you are submitting to. 

Okay you’ve sent everything off and an agent has reached out! You’ve won the “book lottery”! Now what? Do you immediately accept? Do you ask questions?

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT AGENT FOR YOU

If an agent is interested in your story, they will ask for the full manuscript. This is exciting because you know you’ve grabbed an agent’s interest!

If you’re lucky enough to receive multiple offers of representation from literary agents, then this is your decision to make on who you want to represent you. One idea to help you choose is possibly arranging a video call to speak with an agent to see if both your visions align.

Remember, a request for a full manuscript doesn’t necessarily guarantee representation. Unfortunately, rejection is a guaranteed part of the submission process. But remember, nearly every writer has experienced rejection. J.K Rowling’s  first Harry Potter book was rejected by 12 publishers, Stephen King’s Carrie was passed up 30 times, 27 different publishers rejected John Grisham, finally 24 literary agencies turned down The Notebook. The 25th agent sold it to publisher for $1 million. So in other words, keep trying!

Next issue, we will discuss what it’s like working with a publisher.

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