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What To Send To Publishers And Agents

What To Send To Publishers And Agents

Writing your novel is only half the battle - next you have to get published. It's tough for a first-time writer to get their book into the hands of the top publishing industry pros, but we're here to help. We show you what to send to literary agents and publishers to create a winning first impression and make them want to read on, plus what to send and how to package and present your novel. Good luck!

Step 1: You Will Need

  • A cardboard document wallet
  • Good quality white printer paper
  • 4 elastic bands
  • 2 large padded envelopes
  • A blank postcard
  • Stamps/ labels
  • A finished masterpiece

Step 2: Keep it brief

Whether you're sending your book to an agent, or direct to a publisher, your submission package must contain the following items:

- a submission letter
- a synopsis of your novel
- and the first three chapters of your book.

Never send your whole book unless an agent or publisher has specifically requested it.

Step 3: Write your submission letter

Your submission letter should be short and to-the-point. it should create a professional first impression, and provide a little information about you and your book.

You should provide, as concisely as possible, the following details:

- who you are, what you're looking for (whether it's publishing or representation) and whether you've been published before.
- the work's title, word count and genre (or intended audience), plus a few lines describing what it's about.
- any details that boost your writing credentials, or explain why you've written what you've written. Don't lie!

Include up-to-date contact details for yourself, or your agent if you have one, and mention what you have enclosed with your submission - in this case, three chapters, a synopsis and a return envelope.

Step 4: Keep your synopsis concise

Your synopsis should be written in concise, non-flowery language and cover the important details of your story. It should ideally fit on one page, but definitely no more than two, and should be single spaced, written in the third person and the present tense. Don't finish it with a cliffhanger - the purpose of the synopsis is to show that your plot makes sense and ends in a satisfactory way.

Step 5: Remember your contact details

In the bottom left-hand corner, include the following details on separate lines:

- The copyright symbol followed by your name and the year.
- The book's word count.
- Your contact details, or, if you already have an agent, your agent's details, including a postal address, phone number and email address.

Step 6: Don't bind your manuscript

Most agents and publishers are adamant that you do not bind, staple, paperclip or ring bind your chapters - it makes it them more fiddly to handle. Instead, tidy up your pile of pages and secure them with 4 elastic bands - 2 horizontal and 2 vertical.

Step 7: Post in a card wallet

Gather your sample chapters and your synopsis with your covering letter on top, and place them in a card document wallet. On the exterior of the folder, include the following information:

- The title of your work and your author name.
- You can write the date of submission this time, to remind the recipient to read it within a few weeks, but be sure to cover this with a neat label and an up-dated submission date if you re-use the folder for later submissions.

Step 8: Enclose an SAE

Along with your submission, it's a good idea to include the following items to help you keep track of your manuscript:

- A stamped, self-addressed acknowledgement card which can be sent back to you to show your manuscript arrived safely.
- If you want your work back, include a stamped, self-addressed envelope big enough to fit your documents. You should use postage stamps of a value equal to your original sending cost, rather than a printed postage label from the post office, as this may expire before your manuscript is returned.

Step 9: Post it!

The time has finally come, so make sure you've not forgotten anything. And if at first you don't succeed, get ready to try, try again...

Step 10: Hide the evidence

If your manuscript is rejected and returned you might want to send it to a different publisher, but before you send it look through for stains and evidence of the last reader's coffee cup... Editors don't look kindly upon a submission that has obviously bee