Excerpt From Getting Published Newsletter Edition 1, January 2010. Check out the archive link for full newsletter.
Welcome to the first edition of Getting Published, brought to you by Prospera Publishing, a London-based, mainstream publisher. The primary reason for our newsletter is to encourage better submissions, more innovative ideas and to create opportunities for you to get your words into print. How? Well, read on. Firstly, each month we will provide a workshop on preparing your submission, whether to us or another publisher. This workshop is based on the great and mostly not so wonderful real-life submissions we receive in bulk each day. This month we begin with overall submission 'don'ts'. We will also provide interviews with our authors to give you valuable tips and tricks, and finally, we will also be running competition news - both from Prospera and others, to help get you to where you want to be - published!
SUBMISSIONS. OUR TOP TEN 'NO NOS' OF 2009.
You would think, given the plethora of info out there on publishing, that basic errors in submissions to publishers would be a rarity, but read on for some funny, some scary and some pretty stupid approaches to Prospera.
1. Sending an email query without checking the publisher's submission guidelines. Not a good idea at any time. However, we at Prospera like to take a proactive approach to prospective authors, so you can imagine our joy when we actually answered an email regarding a pitch, only to find the author had not, in fact, written a book at all and was asking us for ideas.
2. Sending a novel of 25 pages, which has not been proofread. A novel should be 60,000 words or more, not 6000 words. However, sending something so short without even bothering to proof it so that the protagonist's name is spelt four different ways is really not going to endear you to the publisher.
3. Misspelling your name in the covering letter. Need we say more?
4. Asking the publisher to pass your work along to another publisher should they not want it. It is important to understand the amount of effort, time and money that goes into publishing. Publishing is a business, and we expect authors to understand that.
5. Sending a teaser to a publisher instead of the correct submission material. We once received a small box with the word 'Interested in Benny' with instructions to contact the author immediately with a wonderful publishing opportunity. Back to our point about lack of time and resources. Work that is good will shine without gimmicks. Always follow the submission guidelines.
6. Being unrealistic about timeframes for responses. One author asked us to read a submission overnight as he had other publishers interested. However he had sent the material second class and by the time we received it, his self-imposed deadline was over. A work would have to be exceptional and from a respected agent for this sort of ploy to have any chance to succeed.
7. Sending the first three chapters with missing pages. Yes, it has been done. An author purposely left out crucial plot point pages to lure us to contact him. It didn't.
8. Failing to finish a novel, as per submission guidelines. We ask for the final chapter to ensure than the author has actually written a whole novel. This is because we are well aware of the difficulties of writing and often request whole rewrites of work we are considering. Therefore, lying about a novel being completed won't work, particularly as we tend to ask for the bulk of the novel by email, unedited if necessary, and know that if it takes more than a day or two for the author to deliver something fishy is going on.
9. Not including a self-addressed envelope and demanding the manuscript back. Our submission guidelines, and those of other publishers, usually state manuscripts cannot be returned, even with a self-addressed envelope. Make sure you read the submissions requirements carefully, otherwise you are just wasting your money and our time.
10. Sending x-rated material. Deciding that there is a need for more risque writing doesn't mean you should inflict it on the rest of us. Certain publishers may publish hardcore material, but most, such as Prospera, don't, so be careful before you send your 'adult' novel to a young intern at a publishing house.