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.


Jun 04

Writing Tips – 5 Ways to Annoy an Editor

Editors and your manuscript.

Contributed by Anne Duguid Knol

The wonderful thing is that you can annoy an editor at any and all points throughout the publishing process. This allows you to get your own back for all the odd comments sprinkled on every page of your great works from kindergarten onwards. After all, your inbox is full of emails insisting you can make a fortune with your writing in a weekend. Who needs an editor anyway?

Well, if you want to be traditionally published, an editor comes with the package deal. So let’s get off on the most annoying foot from the start.


1) Resist reading the publishers’ instructions for sending in submissions. Send in a hefty paper manuscript with all pages stapled together when the instructions ask for email only.

Choose a jolly font — something unusual like Bauhaus 93 or all caps like Algerian. Ignore the boring fonts  like Times New Roman which are so often requested by publishers. Word will happily suggest something it considers better if you run out of ideas.

You’ll get more words on the page if you use single spacing and keep the font tiny –try 8 pt.

And  better not reread your manuscript before sending it off. After all, you want your editor to have lots to do.

Remember the Rules

2) Follow every typewriting rule you can remember. Sadly we no longer need two spaces before every new sentence. With computers, one space throughout is all that’s necessary. Your editor can sort that one out fairly easily but hitting the space bar to create paragraph indents or using tabs does mean tedious days of  extra formatting.

Life is hard enough with the latest version of Word happily saving every copy of your work in a single file and creating huge files which need to  be reduced to manageable size.

3) Ignore all rules regarding point of view. After all if you know who’s speaking what’s the problem?

The problem is that readers like identifying with a particular character or characters in a story. This is difficult if they can’t have an in depth involvement. If characters are batting thoughts and feelings about like ping pong balls, it may be exhilarating but it is more likely to lead to confusion than empathy.

However, it’s your book.

Find the right agent

4} Choose an agent who supports your beliefs and ignores requests for blurbs and synopses, sends in an unread manuscript on parenting to a house specializing in Romantic Fiction. Yes, we can see there is a connection there somewhere but publishers and their editors are apt to concentrate on fact or fiction, or at least have different imprints for each.

What’s an Editor For, Anyway?

5} And the final definite No-no. Your editor is not there to write your book. Your editor is there to help you polish your book, make it shine. If you have problems with spelling and grammar, at least do your best to check the manuscript through with Word’s tools if nothing else. Read your manuscript out loud–that’s a good way to find missing words.

Anne Duguid Knol is a local and national journalist in the U.K., Anne Knol is now a fiction editor for award-winning American and Canadian publishers. As a new author, she shares writing tips and insights at Author Support :

Originally published at:

Writing for children tipsThe Writing Elements Mix – Is There a Right Balance?
Striving to Be a Better Writer by Writing More
Book Marketing – You’ve Gotta Have a Blog

Need Help With Your StoryLet me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700

Jan 29

3 Steps to Querying Publishers and Agents

The manuscript querying phase.

You’ve been slaving for months, maybe years, on your manuscript. You’ve read about belonging to a critique group to help you hone your work and took the advice to heart. You have also listened to the advice about submitting your manuscript to an editor after your critique group is done with it, and after you’ve meticulously self-edited it. Now, you’re ready to begin submissions.

While some authors choose to send queries to a publisher or an agent, there is no reason to choose, send queries off to both. But, there are a few steps you need to be aware of before you actually start submitting:

1. First Impressions

Professionalism, professionalism, professionalism. Yes, be professional. As with any business correspondence, do not use colored stationary, colored text, elaborate font, scented paper or envelope, or any other unprofessional features. You get one shot at making a first impression; don’t blow it on silly additions. And, don’t try to be cute or send a gift. Again, be professional.

2. Research

So, you understand you need to appear professional, but you also need to send your query to the right recipients. You can have the most professional looking query letter, but if you send a query to a romance publisher and you have written a children’s picture book, guess what? You’ll be out of luck.

Research for publishers and agents who work within the genre you write. There are services, such as WritersMarket ( that provide information on where and how to sell your articles or manuscripts. While these services may charge for the service, it is a worthwhile investment.

There are also books that offer the same information, such as Writer’s Market, and Children’s Writers and Illustrator’s Market. If you choose this option, you will need to get the new versions each year. Agents and publishers are changing staff all the time, new companies are popping up and others are closing down, you will need up-to-date information for your query submissions.

3. Content

In the February 2011 issue of the Writer, agent Betsy Lerner explained, “Editors and agents alike enjoy nothing more than being startled awake by a witty or moving letter.” They want to see something special and unique; this is where your pitch comes in.

While you may have taken heed and had your manuscript critiqued and looked at by an editor, you can do the same with your query letter.

You want to give the impression that you are intelligent, so your query letter must reflect that. Get it in the best shape possible, with a great hook, and then send it off to be critiqued.

Publishers and agents receive more queries than they can comfortably handle, so don’t give them a reason to simply reject yours because of unprofessionalism. Give your query and manuscript every possible opportunity for success.

Need help with your story?

Whether you need help with ghostwriting, rewriting, or coaching, let me take a look at your children’s story. Just 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.


Book Marketing – The Foundation
How to Write a Story
Traditional Publishing and the Author Platform – Be Realistic