Let me say that I don’t know how all publishing houses accept queries and submissions. I can only speak from my experience.
I cannot tell you how many queries I’ve read that had nothing to do with the sort of books the house published. Diva Shay mentioned in her article last week that you should always read the submission guidelines for every publishing house to whom you submit your query. And I can’t stress that advice enough.
Every publishing house looks for different types of manuscripts, but publishing houses aren’t a case of one size fits all. If you only write erotica, you shouldn’t be sending your manuscript to a publishing house that only publishes young adult novels. A query touting the author’s collection of poems, when the posted guidelines state that the house doesn’t accept poetry, is a red flag that the author has not read the guidelines.
Besides looking at what a publishing house does publish, you should most definitely look at what the publishing house does not publish—see what elements in a manuscript they will not accept.
Submission guidelines are posted for a reason, and it is not to make writers feel excluded. By reading the submission guidelines and submitting your manuscript in the requested manner, you save yourself from an automatic rejection.
After you’ve read the publishing house submission guidelines, prepare and submit your manuscript accordingly. Although it may look cool, submitting your manuscript with a pink flowered background, baby-blue script, and a frivolous font is not a good thing. Feel free to work on your manuscript in whatever fashion inspires you, but don’t send it to a publishing house that way—unless, of course, they ask for it to be sent in a frilly font.
When you write your query letter (I’ll chat about that in my next Kathie’s Corner article), refer back to what the guidelines ask for and send everything they request. If you don’t submit everything a publishing house asks for, your query may not be accepted or even looked at because you did not follow their rules. Many publishing houses and agents will automatically kick out a refusal letter if their guidelines are not met to the letter. They won’t open your manuscript and read that first page if they have to jump through hoops to get it to open. They can’t see how fabulous it is if you haven’t submitted it correctly.
Again, as Diva Shay said, this is the first test in how a publishing house looks at you—the author. Write Divas can help with query letters and advice on submission guidelines.
My next article will be all about the query letter. Some of my author friends have said that this letter was harder than writing the novel. I hope to help you conquer some of those fears.Kathie’s Corner is a bi-monthly column by Kathie Spitz. Kathie has two blogs: a review blog, First to the Last, and a recipe blog, Kathie’s Favorite Recipes.