Submitting Your Work For Publication by Nikolas Baron
So you finally did it. You just typed your last sentence on your first novel and the cursor silently blinks on next to the words “el fin”. A little clichéd, sure, but it’s your first novel. Some wiggle room is expected. You sigh feeling fully satisfied until that moment of pain-stricken horror comes rushing out of your mind—the publishers!
Getting your novel, story, poem, whatever, is no easy task and many writers ignorant of the process, fear it. Fortunately young writers, there is nothing to fear. All you lack is information and information is what I am here to provide.
My name is Nick and I work over at a site called Grammarly.com—a site dedicated to proofreading and improving your grammar. Part of my job includes the study of writing, which I do on a near daily basis. My reading covers quite a wide range and with this acquired knowledge and the expertise of a few colleagues we have put together a list of tips that will aide you in the process of becoming a published author.
So make sure you’ve saved your work and read on to put your mind at ease.
PROOFREAD AND EDIT
Okay, this may seem like an obvious first step but you would truly be shocked at how many authors submit work that is rife with grammatical mishaps and sloppy narrative. I know what you’re thinking and the answer is no—the publishers job is to polish your work, not completely restructure and repair it from the ground up. Sending a publisher a book with plot holes and grammatical errors is sure to do one thing—get you a rejection letter.
So if you want to cut down on the number of rejections you receive, do yourself a favor and EDIT! Hiring a freelance proofreader or editor is not a bad idea but if you are short on money (I mean, you’re a novelist, let’s be realistic) log online and use a free grammar check website like Grammarly and then call your friend over to look out for pesky plot holes (enticing with pizza and beer usually helps).
Before dropping your novel in the mail, it is important to know who you are sending it to. Take the time to research any would be publisher to discover there area of interest. There is no point in sending your science fiction novel to the publishing house that deals largely in scientific and academic research.
Play by their Rules
Fortunately, any real publishing house will have their areas of specialization on their website, as well as their submission requirements. Many publishers have a specific method of submission and not following their format is yet another way to receive a pleasant rejection letter.
Write A Great Cover Letter
This should come as no surprise but you will need to write a cover letter, preferably a good cover letter. The best of them are short and sweet, not exceeding a page and professional. Publishers want to know who you are and why you wrote this book. Include things like research an resources you used if relevant to your genre. Also, make sure to include why they should publish your book and why it might appeal to readers. Before sending it out I will kindly refer you back to the PROOFREAD AND EDIT section.
Being patient is perhaps the best advice anyone can give. Keep in mind publishers can receive hundreds, if not thousands of submissions a year, all of which have to be read. Understandably it can take a long time for your work to be considered, so please be patient.
The process is a long one and for many, the process involves rejection. Many authors receive heaping piles of rejection letters before their book finds a place amongst the published world. This includes some great authors like Stephen King, William Golding, Joseph Heller, J.K. Rowling and many more.
If you are serious about being published use the rejection to your advantage as many letters include feedback, which can be very useful.
Hopefully this short guide will put you on the right track to getting your work out there! While you are waiting for that acceptance letter why not get started on your second novel? Happy writing!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown children’s novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, traveling, and reading.