Okay, this is it. My post on submitting to a publisher.
Since I’ve actually only submitted to one publisher, Less Than Three Press, that’s what my post will mostly draw on for experience. Make note: my publisher is chiefly an online publisher and receives everything by email. Some big publishers require an actual, physical copy of your manuscript, a cover letter, an agent, and any number of annoying things.
Okay, so you’ve finished actually writing your story. You’ve gotten it checked over by beta readers, you’ve done revisions and several rounds of editing.
If you haven’t done all these steps, then don’t bloody submit it yet. It’s not actually done if you haven’t done these things yet. And don’t come to me and say that you’re good enough that you don’t have to do one of these steps. This is your work of art that you want other people to read and enjoy. You want to do everything that you can to make this work as best as it can possibly be. Especially do not skip editing it, because editors can tell, and they will hate you.
Okay, so now you are definitely sure that you are ready to submit it.
Right, now the first thing you do is go to the publisher’s website and make sure that you’re following all of their guidelines. If you are submitting to a collection, anthology, or a specific submission call of any sort, you should have already been here to make sure you were following thematic guidelines. If you are submitting to a romance publisher, some of them have guidelines on content. Less Than Three Press in particular does not allow any rape/non con, bestiality, tragic endings, and underage sex, etc. Make doubly sure that you have not included any of these things in your story.
Next, make sure you have the correct formatting guidelines down. These are usually very basic and easy to follow. Some of these formatting rules might require you to do yet another round of quick editing. Most changes will require nothing more than a quick “find and replace,” adding or taking out an indent, paragraphing, font change, or something equally simple.
Now you actually have to submit the thing.
Some publishers absolutely require you to have an agent. I haven’t had to use an agent for my work so far, but if the publisher says in their submission guidelines that you need one, then they’re pretty serious about it.
Okay, this is the part where you have to actually talk to the editor that is going to look over your manuscript and decide if they like your work. I know. This is the hard part. Please bring back the boring formatting, because this is terrifying.
Usually, you have to include your name, pen name (if you have one), your contact info, a summary of your work, word count, and a completed manuscript. Make sure you know the name of the person you’re sending it to, and their email. For Less Than Three Press, depending on if you’re submitting to a general call, a collection call or an anthology call, you might be sending it to a different editor.
Things you should not send to an editor because they are busy people and it will enrage them:
- an uncompleted manuscript
- an unedited manuscript
- ideas for a manuscript
- a manuscript that is already on submission to another publisher (unless the submission guidelines say that it’s okay)
Double and triple check that you have included all the information that the submission guidelines require and that you’re sending it to the right place.
Wait. Be patient, because the wait length for finding out if you’ve been accepted can be anywhere from weeks to months. Some publishers will send you an automated message to assure you that they received your submission.
Don’t give up! Whatever the outcome is, you made it to this step, which means you’ve come pretty far, in terms of writing.