May 6, 2014 · 10:55 am
You are not a snowflake. You are not special or unique or even much of an individual. Well, perhaps you are, but not when it comes to following submission guidelines. Here’s the thing: submission guidelines aren’t really guidelines in the sense of a recommendation, suggestion, or a bit of advice. They’re rules. You may say to yourself, “I’m a rebel, a pirate, a rule-breaker. I need to shine! To be ME! If I’m going to work with an agent, they need to know the true me!” That’s fine, snowflake. But if you don’t follow an agent’s submission guidelines (rules), you’re probably not going to get them to even look at your work. Then you’ll get to be YOU, the rebel, pirate, rule-breaker and also NOT get your work published. So when you’ve done your research and have a list of appropriate agents for your work, and you’ve read their submission guidelines, remind yourself: “these are hard and fast rules for submitting to this person. And I, a perfect, unique snowflake, will follow these rules.” Some common things agents put in their guidelines are: NO attachments. Most agents don’t want to open attachments or have to follow a link to a website in order to read your writing sample. We are busy. Really, really, really busy. We are fielding a gazillion queries on top of all our other work. Make it easy for us to see your work. If an agent asks for your writing sample in the body of the email, PUT THE WRITING SAMPLE IN THE BODY OF THE EMAIL. Of course, there are always agents who want something different, so make sure that’s what they are requesting in their guidelines. First 10 pages, or 20 pages, or first 3 chapters, or whatever. When you’re submitting to multiple agents, make sure you pay attention to who wants what. Sending the first 3 chapters when an agent only wants 10 pages will get you an annoyed person reading your work. Or your query deleted. You don’t want that. Synopsis. Some agents want them. Some don’t. I don’t really want one. I want a short description (1 paragraph) of your work, with no spoilers. A query letter. I’d venture to guess that most agents want a real query letter when you are submitting your work to them. That doesn’t mean, “Attached please find my manuscript.” That means a query letter. If you’re unclear about what that actually means… snowflake, you’d better get your act together. Read the rest of my blog posts (from the past few years) and go to a writing conference or twelve. Ok. any questions?