Quote of the day:
"If you haven't said it or written it, it hasn't been dealt with."
Today I want to mention some important issues in regard to presenting your precious work to a publisher; any publisher. Trust me. You are competing with heaps of other writers so get it right the first time. Recently I read an interesting article. A publisher stated that something like 60% of writers forgot one important thing when they sent their manuscript - the writer's address and contact details! Can you believe that? Mm ... you get my point, eh?
They say that writing a book is easy. The tough part is having it published by a mainstream publisher. They, whoever they are, are correct. It's a tough gig, so take a deep breath, look yourself in the mirror and ask one question: do I have enough passion? The average publisher receives about 2,000 manuscripts a year.
I began fulltime writing 13 years ago. Had I known then what I know now, would I have continued? Good question. The jury is still out on that one. Yep, even with some major and minor awards, commendations and high commendations under my belt, a swag of manuscripts and short stories completed, life is still tough in the publishing world. I'm a literary salmon, fighting against the tide to crack the literary ceiling. So, what are you supposed to do with that magnificent piece of literature?
Who? When? How? - publishers!
1. Choose the right publisher. Do your homework. Remember the Internet - gateway to the world, as I call it? Do not send your beautiful kid's book to a publisher who only publishes gardening or self-help books. Strangely, J K Rowlings did that, probably out of frustration, and succeeded.
2. Make sure the publisher is accepting unsolicited manuscripts. Love that word - unsolicited. If they're not, don't bother. They will throw it in the WPB - waste paper bin.
3. Having found an amenable publisher, read their guidelines carefully and follow their directions to the letter of the law. Got that? Don't bitch about it - do it exactly how they want it to be done.
4. I do five things when I finish a manuscript:
a. Write a brief story synopsis - not easy but a great discipline. One page or less.
b. Write a chapter summary - again, cut to the chase.
c. Write a query letter - Mm ... cut to the chase.
d. Write a blurb for your book, which is about 100 words - an even bigger discipline.
e. Detailed page about me and my book.
Why do I do that? It means that everything is ready and waiting, prepared, should I wish to send it to a publisher at anytime.
5. Some authors submit details of a proposed manuscript, or one that is a work-in-progress. I don't. I'd rather finish it and flog the hell out of it to publishers.
6. Most publishers will want to know the following:
a. Who you are.
b. Whether you are able to write. They will tell this by your covering letter.
c. What your story is all about.
d. Whether it has commercial potential.
7. I write a smooth but short covering letter, detailed page about me and my book, chapter summary and brief synopsis. The detailed page about me includes the following: title, genre, target group, themes, word count, contact details (phone, email and home address), prizes won, stuff published in magazines, courses attended and author bio.
8. If the publisher wants one chapter, send one, don't send six. I usually send the first chapter, because it has a hook.
9. Double space your manuscript, allow wide margins, provide page numbers, story title and your name at the top (including the copyright symbol) or bottom of each page. Use a standard font; not something fancy.
10. Double check everything, post it and get on with your next masterpiece.
11. It will take at least three months so start the prayer meeting.
12. Be professional in your presentation.
13. Goodluck. Nothing like a cold call from a publisher.
Thanks for listening.
I'm Clancy Tucker.