Company X’s Chief Editor Jane Smith’s Top Tips for New Authors
On an any given day, my editing assistant, Sam, can be found buried behind three-foot stacks of manuscripts piled on her desk – I can’t even imagine what her email inbox looks like. There are many talented authors who pass their manuscripts along to Company X, but we can’t take on every manuscript. With so many submissions, sometimes our decision isn’t about whcih manuscript is “better” – it comes down to practicalities. It’s a shame when we need to reject talented authors because their book needed too much work. After 25 years in publishing, my best advice to new authors is – before you hit send, make you work is in the best shape possible. You don’t want simple, avoidable errors to cloud your brilliant work because sometimes this can be the weight-limiting factor.
Here are a few of the most common reasons manuscripts are immediately rejected:
Poorly Formatted: Formatting a manuscript takes a lot of time and attention to detail. When authors send us work that isn’t formatted as a manuscript, we have to factor in extra time and money to account for fixing this. While there are many variations to how to format the manuscript, select one, standard style and stick with it. Click here [insert link to Company X’s blog post about formatting] for a few versions that might be helpful.
Review the guidelines: When a manuscript is sent via mail to Company X – the author gets an automatic rejection letter. That’s because Company X’s guidelines require all manuscripts be submitted through our online portal. All literary agencies have guidelines for submitting manuscripts. Sending submissions outside of guidelines automatically gets your manuscript rejected, so make sure you read carefully. Be sure that you are submitting to the appropriate department through their preferred channel.
Have a Summary: Like Company X, many literary agencies are at first only looking for a short plot summary of your book. Make sure you have a concise, well-polished summary ready to distribute. You should tailor your summary to fit the agency (or crowdfunding platform!) you are communicating with.
Hire an editing service: Many times, our team rejects manuscripts simply because they require far too much editing. To avoid embarrassing mistakes, I always recommend that authors get their work professionally proofed before sending to literary agents. Free online tools such as Grammarly are a great headstart, but ultimately, you’ll want to invest in an editing service.
Write a tailored cover letter: Before submitting, do your research. Be sure to write a tailored cover letter that explains why you’ve identified the book agent and how your book is the right fit for them. Usually, there’s space to add extra attachments or write this part in the submission form if you’re submitting online.
Thinking of alternatives to book agents for your manuscript? Check out Company X, a crowdfunding platform and publisher for new, talented .