Submitting a manuscript is a momentous step in the life of any writer. After months or even probably years of slogging at a novel or a collection of short stories, you draft your production in its final form, checking and rechecking that the punctuation is proper and ensuring that the prose is in the correct sequence. Your apprehension and fastidiousness is justified. Editors get dozens of manuscripts from writers. In the face of such competition, every aspect of the manuscript, from its layout to spelling, takes on a significance of its own.
When submitting a manuscript, it is advisable to follow a few guidelines.
Learn about the publishers and the genre of books they deal with. Make sure that you know the mode of submissions they require. Some publishers prefer to accept submission in electronic form, while others prefer hard copies. Many publishers will not accept unsolicited manuscripts. Sending background information about yourself along with your manuscript is helpful.
If you are sending a printed manuscript, ensure that the quality of printing is excellent. Printing that contains blotches and smudges can turn off a publisher.
Attach a self-addressed, stamped envelope to your manuscript if you want it to be returned. However, be sure to have a copy of the manuscript for yourself since editors are under no obligation to return manuscripts. In the case of a rejection, the editor may include a few lines to explain why the manuscript was rejected.
In the case of publishers who do not accept unsolicited manuscripts, send a letter of enquiry to learn whether they might be interested in your work. A standard letter of enquiry should be accompanied by a covering letter that describes you, your qualifications and your experience. It should contain an outline of the written work you propose and its word length.
It is not necessary to send original illustrations. You can mention that illustration materials are available and, if necessary, send photocopies, along with your manuscript.
Draft a covering letter for your submission. It is advisable to address the covering letter and the manuscript directly to the editor who will be evaluating it. For instance, if you are submitting a collection of children's stories, you should address it directly to the children's editor at the publishing house.
The average time taken by a publisher to respond to a submission can range from a few weeks to a few months. Consequently, some writers prefer to send submissions to multiple publishers. If you don't hear from a publisher after a couple of months have elapsed, you can contact him to determine the status of your submission.