Tania McCartney, the agony aunt of children's literature, offers words of wisdom. She will be posting every fortnight. Send an email with your questions to Tania at email@example.com
I loved your recent advice on polishing your manuscript before submitting to publishers, but can you pass on some tips about submitting? I’m feeling a bit nervous about it and want all the advice I can get!
I agree – it’s daunting sending your baby off to publishers, and of course, let’s not even mention those dreaded rejection letters. Alas, they are just part of the process, so to up your chances of receiving an acceptance letter, this is what I recommend:
Research your publisher carefully. Ensure your manuscript fits their list. If you don’t, you’re wasting everyone’s time, including yours.
Check publisher submission guidelines – your manuscript may not even be looked at if you fail to follow them. Be succinct and clear in your communications. Provide a short cover letter and make sure your synopsis is equally short and to the point.
Some publishers ask for bios, previous publications, a marketing analysis and other additions but don’t provide anything extra unless you are instructed to.
Never send in book mockups.
Only send illustrations if you are an illustrator, and only if the submission guidelines say so.
Don’t pester or act like a diva.
Don’t send chocolates, sparkles, champagne or other gifts. Don’t song-and-dance. Good work sells itself.
Create a database of submissions to keep track of what you have sent to whom and when. Make a note next to each entry when you can expect to hear from the publisher (according to their guidelines). If you receive no response, wait another month and then send a short, polite query email.
You can send your manuscript to multiple publishers at once so long as you check the publisher guidelines first. Some allow it, some don’t. More and more publishers are ‘allowing’ it so long as you let them know if you are accepted elsewhere.
Be prepared to wait. Be prepared to be disappointed but NEVER let a rejection letter defeat you. Dust yourself off and send it to the next publisher. Remember, manuscript rejection is totally subjective.
Tenacity is as important as talent.
Tania McCartney is an author of both adult and children’s books. She is the founder of Kids Book Review and is an ambassador for the National Year of Reading 2012. Her latest titles include Riley and the Grumpy Wombat and Beijing Tai Tai. Her first book with New Frontier will be out in 2013. You can follow Tania on Twitter.
Do you have a question for Tania? She will answer questions fortnightly on anything to do with children’s literature, from creating it to finding the perfect reads for your kids. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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