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Friday, October 28, 2016

Submissions - How to


If you are a writer, you have to learn all about submissions.  Whether you are submitting to a magazine or a publisher or an agent, there is a process you have to learn and accept.

1.  The research.  I don’t mind this part of the process.  I use market books, and google and site searches.  I like looking up agents and publishers and magazines.  I like to see what people are reading and what is coming out and new book recommendations.  Plus I like lists.  It’s a nice way to feel like you are making headway as you make your way down a list and mark things off as done.  The research, yeah, this part is fun.  Yes, really. 

Once you have done your research and made your lists, you move on to crafting:

2.  The Query.  We all hate this little guy.  I hate it, as I think I am good at telling stories, but I suck at being a salesman.  I don’t want to be a salesman.  Well too bad!  You have to learn and learn it as well as you can.  I am still learning.  I personalize each and every query letter.  There is not one query letter that goes out that is exactly the same as another even if I am sending multiple queries out on the same project.  Try to make your book or story or article interesting.  Try to brag about your self.  I am really bad at this.  I don’t want to be noticed.  I want my book to be the star, not me.  I like the shadows and watching the world.  The query is not easy to do.  Don’t just wing it.  Take time and think and try to be exciting and excited about your project. 

After you are done tearing your hair out over the query, then you get to pull out the rest of it drafting:

3.  The Synopsis.  I have shed tears over writing a synopsis before.  Frustrated tears, the I suck at writing tears, this project is awful tears.  Again, I will say I am not a salesman.  I sound stiff and boring a lot during this process.  I don’t know how to sell a book.  I know how to write it.  My solution is to write one, send it to other authors for feedback.  Rip up the one I wrote and try again with the feedback.  Again, find new authors to look it over and again, add in their feedback, until I feel like it’s as good as I can make it.  I never feel it’s perfect, but I always feel that it is good by the time I send it out.

4.  The package.  Now that you have a basic package of documents, next you have to put it all together. Each market and person and whoever you are sending to will want something different.  Give them exactly what they want.  Don’t deviate.  Don’t think you know what they want better than they do.  So I again will stress, give them EXACTLY what they ask for. If they want something different, they will tell you or ask for it. 

Once you do all this and hit send, you will inevitable come to:

5.  The regret and the mistakes.  I do each submission one at a time.  I will usually only do one or two a day if I have a big list, because I don’t want to overwhelm myself.  I like to recheck all the information and all the materials everyone wants.  But there are days that no matter how hard I try I find mistakes in my submissions.  I agonize over the query.  I agonize over the format.  I agonize about the spelling of names.  But I still find wrong things.  A missed name change.  A format letter that I didn’t update the date on because I was too busy freaking out over the content.  Or, my favorite: when I don’t put the correct name in the email, because I’m looking at the wrong list.  Oh yes, I did that once, recently, and beat myself up over it all day.  Knowing that my hard work and agonizing was a complete waste, as I insulted them by not having the right name.  I love that…let me tell ya.  We all have to remember that we are human and not perfect.  Do your very best and the hard work will payoff in the end. 

Don’t give up.  You can do this.  If you have any questions, I may not have a perfect answer, but I will always try to give you the information I know.  So, ask away.  Good luck out there everyone.  This market is hard.  I got your back.

One last thing before I go:  I will be working on a Nanowritmo Book again this year.  Therefore, I will be swamped for November.  I will do my best to stay in touch by social media, and I will of course return emails.  Otherwise, you may not see much of me until December and let’s face it by December we are all a little crazy so maybe not even then. 



2 comments:

  1. Great insight, Courtney.
    I hope Nano month goes swimmingly for you!

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  2. Wow, you have just helped a new writer with great information! Unfortunately, I've been there and done all of that and none of it is a fun process for me, except the writing. I don't even enjoy the research. I do like putting the envelope in the mail, or hitting the send button that includes my submission because I know I'm making the effort it takes to get a story published. That feels very good!!

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