May 30

Submitting to an Editor or Literary Agent? 6 Things to Watch For

Submitting to an editor at a publishing house or to a literary agent can be nerve wrecking. But, if you want your story to find a home, it’s a journey you have to take.

Any journey you’re about to go on, takes planning, preparation, and then execution.

It’s the same with submitting your manuscript.

So, how do you plan and prepare to submit?

The first thing is to know what agents and editors want from you, and the best way to know this information is to read their submission guidelines.

There is no way around doing your research.

With that said, there are some basic tips to add to your submission toolkit.

  1. Know who you’re submitting to.

Don’t put Dear Editor or Dear Agent. Have a name and use it.

Search the website of the publisher or agency you’re targeting and get the name of the person accepting submissions in your genre.

If you can’t find exactly what you need from the website, call the publishing house or agency. Ask who is accepting submission in your genre.

  1. Know what type of books the publisher or agency deals with.

Getting back to research, be sure you’re submitting your book to a place that deals with the genre your book is in.

I’m a children’s writer and it wouldn’t make sense for me to submit my fiction chapter book manuscript to a publisher or agency that deals with adult nonfiction.

Not only would it be a waste of my time, but the person receiving my submission will be annoyed that I didn’t bother reading their guidelines.

Another potential problem is that if I one day write a nonfiction manuscript and it’s just what that particular publisher or agency is looking for, they may remember me from the children’s manuscript.

  1. Make your hook compelling and unique.

The hook in your query or proposal needs to be brief, one or two sentences. It’s the first impression you’ll get to wow the agent or publisher.

Use present tense, and convey the emotion of the story by using strong active verbs. And mention or hint to the stakes and the main conflict.

  1. Present your best writing.

Do your best to submit writing that’s irresistible.

Hopefully, you’ve either learned the craft of writing or at least read a lot of books in the genre you’re writing.

Study what appeals to you; examine what makes you want to turn the pages, and use these strategies to make your book enticing enough that the editor or agent will want to read more.

And, be sure to edit and proof your manuscript before submitting.

There are tools like ProWritingAid and Grammarly that will help you catch errors you didn’t realize you missed.

If you want to take even more care and if it’s in your budget, get a professional to look your manuscript over.

  1. The comparison section is important.

Publishers and agents want to make sure you’re familiar with the genre you’re writing in, and what published books your book is comparable to.

This will take research. This means to read, read, and read some more. Read books in your genre and books that focus on your topic or similar to it, even if somewhat.

Choosing two or three comp titles is a good place to be.

In her article, Comp Titles in a Query, former agent Mary Kole says, “The purpose of strong book comps is to make a realistic comparison between your work and someone else’s. Ideally, the author or book you’re choosing is thoughtful, rather than just a runaway bestseller. It’s always best to give reasoning for your choices, if you can.”

  1. Have something to put in the marketing section of your query.

Make everything about you and your platform professional.

This includes your author website.

Your website should be up to date, easy to read, and have information about you and your books, if you have any published.

Again, do research to see what other authors’ websites look like.

Along with this, have social media accounts and be active on them. If you don’t have a large following, show that you’re making strides in that direction.

Publishers and agents want to know that you know what a writer’s platform is and that you can help sell your books.

  1. Be professional in your presentation.

Your proposal should be professional. Research how to organize and format it.


A Literary Agent’s Wish List

8 Tips for Writing a Powerful Hook for Your Book Proposal

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need help with ghostwriting, rewriting, or coaching, let me take a look at your children’s story. Just send me an email at: Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box. Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable and marketable story today!

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.