Thursday, September 1, 2011

Make Your Submissions Impressive

To be honest, it is tough being a first time author looking for an agent or an editor. In simple terms, you have to be beyond amazing with that submission. No, this is not an unfair burden being placed on an author, it is the simple, cold-hard truth about any initial contract you make with someone you want to work with.

As I have said in the past, querying editors and agents is very similar to looking for a job.
  • Cover letter = Query letter
  • Resume = Manuscript
  • Pitch = Initial interview
Writers have to understand that you are essentially in competition with a lot of other authors for that one position in the company (or in this case the agency or publishing house). This means that first impressions say a lot and what you put on the table for that editor or agent has to be not just adequate but impressive enough to make us want to read more.

I do have to stress that agents and editors are not out to "find reasons to reject an author or project. The reality is that authors really do this to themselves. Sloppy projects, rushed query letters, no focus in the query.... You get the idea.

While you might have your story finished, you need to really take the time that everything is in place and representing exactly who you are and what the story is.

One thing to remember is the combination of the number of submissions and agent or editor receives as well as the time they have available to read your project. This is why all of the agents out there have spent so much time on their blogs talking about what makes a great query letter and what falls apart. There isn't one right or wrong way of doing a query, but there are things you can do to enhance the quality of your project. Take the time to really look at what you send.



  1. Thanks for this post. It's so easy in the excitement of finishing your MS, to rush the submission process. It pays off to wait and really reflect & polish before hitting the send button!

  2. Great advice, Scott, and great reminder. Like Joy said, in the excitement of finishing an MS we forget it's a completely new concept for everyone else. First impressions are, really, everything at this stage. I wonder how many truly great MS's have gone the way of the obscure shoebox in the attic because of rushed or not fully thought-out query letters, but I'm sure it's a lot, unfortunately. Shame...

  3. Another timely post. I've been tempted to start querying my MS, but until I feel it's as polished as I can make it I'm forcing myself not to. I want to have the best product available if I get a request for a partial or the full MS.