The Inkwell

5 Submission Tips Everyone Should Know

We’ve seen a fair amount of submissions and query letters. In fact, we get loads of them everyday and they go in one specific place, the slush pile. (Please don’t be offended, it’s what everyone in the industry calls it!)

With thousands of submissions sent to hundreds of agents every year, writers wonder how they can stand out from the rest of the bunch. Over the next few weeks we’ll go over some advice, tips and tricks that, in our experience, make a big difference in how your query will be viewed. For now, we’ll look at five points:

  1. Don’t try to sell a gimmick. We’re interested in good, strong writing. Submissions that try to persuade us into believing that their manuscript is the next Harry Potter or Fifty Shades get taken with a grain of salt. We just want to know what your book is about and we want your writing to be exceptional.
  2. Be brief. Write like Hemingway. Write things that are true, strong, and honest. We don’t need flowery language in a query. Grip us from the beginning of your letter by involving us in your plot. Captivate us.
  3. Be focused. If you’ve just written a great manuscript and invested a lot of time and energy into it, don’t cheapen it by submitting two other novels and a memoir at the same time. Perfect the one manuscript and your query letter and if that’s good, believe us, we’ll be in touch to talk about other projects.

  4. Be kind. You would be surprised by the number of submission packages and phone calls we receive that are rude, pushy, or insulting of the publishing industry. We’re not saying you have to flatter us to no end, but respect what we do and we’ll respect you.

  5. Research. All it takes is a quick Google search of a company to get the contact information right. A simple oversight such as a wrong or misspelled company name won’t make us feel confident that you’ve reviewed your own work carefully.

Stay tuned for many more tips on the submission process! At the end of the series we’ll even show you an actual submission letter, and maybe we can play a little guessing game to see if you know who wrote it.