Friday, July 17, 2009

"Do"s and "Don't"s for Unsolicited Submissions

I’ve been reviewing lots of unsolicited submissions and thought I’d share some advice based on things I’ve seen recently. When you’re sending a submission:

DON’T WRITE YOUR EMAIL IN ALL CAPS, PLEASE! I feel like I’m being screamed at. :)

DO format your cover letter nicely. And it’s fine for your email message to be the cover letter.

DON’T send a link to follow to find your submission. I get plenty of spam with links to who knows where, so I’ve just made it a rule that if you can’t include your work with your proposal, I’m not going to go looking for it.

DO use Microsoft Word attachments or a format that can be opened in Microsoft Word. I still frequently receive Word Perfect and other formats that I just can’t open.

DON’T be overly confident that a publisher will certainly contract your book. I am always turned off by cover letters that tell me what I am thinking and what I will do.

DO be confident and honest about yourself, your writing abilities and experience, and why you’d love to work with the publisher. But remember to keep this relevant and brief. It’s good to share some information about yourself but not a whole autobiography.

DON’T send back an obnoxious reply to a rejection. This is so irritating, and I am completely baffled over why people do this in such a competitive industry. An obnoxious reply indicates an obnoxious person that we’d probably never want to work with.

DO send a gracious reply thanking the publisher for their time. I am always impressed by these. I received one today that said, “Thank you so much for reviewing my novel and taking the time to respond. I appreciate it very much, even though it wasn't what I hoped for. Thank you for helping bring good Christian fiction to the book shelves. Hopefully, one day, my own work will be among them.” That’s one of the nicest rejection replies I’ve ever received, and I appreciate this author’s great attitude.


Helen Gray said...

I appreciate this article.

There are always so many things going through your head when you're an unpublished author submitting unsolicited manuscripts.

Most of these seem to be commonly accepted rules of e-mail etiquette and formatting. The one I was unsure about was writing to an editor after having a manuscript rejected. I'm a timid soul who is always afraid of unwittingly doing something offensive, so I tend to think the editor would not even remember the manuscript to which I'm referring if I were to write to him/her.

Thanks for this item.


Debby Mayne said...

People need to mind their manners, no matter where they are! Thanks, JoAnne, for the list of Do's and Don'ts for the submission process.

CatMom said...

Thanks for these tips, JoAnne! And I'm sorry you've received obnoxious replies at times - - adults should know better. As Debby wrote, people should "mind their manners!"
Blessings, Patti Jo :)

P.S. Another Jodi picture soon, please? *smile*

Pepper Basham said...

Thanks for the post. Those tips are incredibly helpful - and reminding me to send a thank you note, even for rejections? Great idea! There's another thing to place on my 'to do' list.

Erica Vetsch said...

It boggles the mind that someone would send a nasty note to an editor.

And a good reminder to send thank you notes. Even for rejections.

grammygail said...

Hi Ladies,
Just found your site and I'm looking forward to following. Great information, loved the best seller list and it's so pretty too!
I was just wondering last night when our society got to the point that obnoxious behavior is now considered a right!
Thanks again.