Sunday, March 12, 2017

How to get an unsolicited manuscript read

 Some authors are fortunate to have the assistance of a literary agent. But I'd wager that the majority of us don't. So we are left to navigate the publishing industry labyrinth by ourselves.

rock art by my husband, photo by me

Since I started keeping careful records, in 2014, I've sent 400 submissions to publishing houses. Over the years, I learned some valuable lessons. One of the most important was how to properly address a cover letter. 

Dear Sir or Madam
To Whom It May Concern

This is the equivalent of standing on the street corner, waving your arms in the air and shouting, "Hey, you!"
Someone may hear you. But the chance that she will be the right person are slim.

Dear Publisher
Dear Editor

Visit the publishing house website and carefully study the submission guidelines. (Some submission guidelines give you all the information you require. Others don't.)

Small publishing houses may tell you to send your submission to the publisher. All publishing houses have at least one editor. So there is a chance that your submission will get to a publisher or an editor. But there's no guarantee that it will get to the right publisher or editor. Moreover, addressing your submission in this manner shows that you didn't do your homework and that you may not even know who the right publisher or editor is.

How do you find the name of the right publisher or editor?

Roll up your sleeves and click those computer keys. You want to find not only the contact's job title but also her name
'If [the publishing house] has multiple editors, approach an assitant editor, associate editor, or senior editor (Generally avoid managing editors, who oversee the daily operations but often don't read unsolicited manuscripts)' -How to stay out of the slush pile

Other reference sources...

-books in your genre -- read the acknowledgment section. Sometimes authors will thank their editors. 

-join genre associations or genre specific writing groups -- members may be able to supply you with the name and job title

Dear Kathlene Witherspoon, Assistant Editor

"Bim" photo by ldyck
Next Post:  March 19 at approximately 5 PM PT 
Book review:  Note to Self by Laurie Buchanan (self-help)