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) 


Benni Chisholm said...

Hi Leanne,

Thanks for the informative article.

Back in the olden days, I once considered papering my wall with rejection slips. Today, with emails, that wouldn't work.

I wish you good luck with your publishing efforts. Keep writing your blog——it is always a good read.

Cheerybye, Benni Chisholm

Darlene said...

It is just like applying for a job and sending out a cover letter. You would never address it to Who it may concern or Dear Sir/Madame. The people who take the time and effort to find out the name of the department head or hiring manager will always have a better chance of an interview! Sometimes it takes a bit of sleuthing to find the name but is always worth it. Great post.

Leanne Dyck said...

Thank you for keeping in touch and for your supportive comment, Benni. I dropped by your facebook page and took that cool quiz. I read 24 of the 100 recommended Canadian reads--and I thought I was well read. : )

Leanne Dyck said...

It's embracing to admit how many letters I've addressed to Sir or Madam or Whom. So I'll just glide right over that and write...

And sometimes that sleuthing is fun. I've uncovered a lot of interesting, informative and entertaining information--most of which I've shared here.

Laurie Buchanan said...

Leanne — You're a terrific resource for writers!

Leanne Dyck said...

: ) Thank you, Laurie. We're all in this game together. And so if we discovered some useful information I think we should share it.