Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, when you’re done crafting your manuscript, there was a button at the bottom labeled “Submit Book to Publisher”? We can dream, but in reality, the book submission process is a bit more complicated than that.
Successful manuscript publishing requires research, patience, and avoiding some common yet serious mistakes. So, to learn more about the process of how to send manuscript to publishers without that manuscript ending up in the recycle bin, read on!
What Do Book Publishers Look for?
Publishers want to see content, not ideas. Everyone has ideas, but executing them is the tough part. After that, they’re looking to see that the content is unique. Why publish a story or reference book that’s exactly like every other book submission they’ve ever gotten?
Next, they’ll want to see that the plot and characters are compelling if it’s fiction, and they’ll want factual but compelling information for non-fiction titles.
Make sure the publisher fits the genre of your writing. If you’re writing a horror book and you submit book to publisher X, make sure the publisher isn’t known for the romance genre instead of horror! It all starts with familiarizing yourself with your genre and the publishers’ market.
How Many Publishers Should I Send My Manuscript To?
In some cases, the question isn’t how to send manuscript to publishers but who to send the manuscript to. Manuscript publishing requires that you are selective with whom you submit to. As you’ll see later in this article, this isn’t to say that you can’t submit your work to a massive pool of publishers. Rather, the idea is that you shouldn’t do it all at once.
7 Steps for How to Send Manuscript to Publishers
When you feel like it’s time to submit manuscripts to publishers, take some time to work through these essential steps first.
Step 1: Polish Your Manuscript
Before you submit manuscripts and hope for responses, make sure your manuscript is the best it can be! It must adhere to submission guidelines as per the publishers’ rules, whether it’s via the submission method, formatting, font, or any other considerations.
Also, make sure that there are no typos or grammar mistakes! Finally, and possibly most important of all, make sure it’s interesting.
Step 2: Research Publishers and Agents
Finding the right publishers and agents requires casting a wide net for sources. The Writer’s Market guides feature extensive lists of agents, publishers, contests, and other places to submit manuscripts.
Trade publications like Writer’s Digest, Publisher’s Weekly, and various others often contain invaluable contacts and tips on how to successfully submit your work. Don’t forget to read acknowledgments in books for the names of editors and agents, and of course, check publishers’ websites for genres for which they need writers.
Step 3: Create a Longlist
Once you’ve found all of the people and places to which you’d like to submit manuscripts, you’ll need to put them on your long list. This list is, as the name suggests, a long list of every name you can find for places where you want to submit.
You can pare the list down as you do more research, but you want to start with as many choices as possible.
Step 4: Narrow Down Your Top Choices
Now, find the top 5 or 6 you want to target for submission. This first round of publishers/agents should mix several goals, such as a couple of “dream” publishers and a few that you think you have a solid chance of hearing back from. Make sure they are currently accepting manuscripts!
Step 5: Personalize Your Approach
Now it’s time to gather all of the research about your picks. Start by reading two books from authors currently represented by these picks to familiarize yourself with what they’re looking for.
You’ll want to gauge their manuscript load by seeing how many books they’ve published lately. The busier they are, the greater the chance your book will be overlooked.
Step 6: Customize Your Query Letters
And by customize, we mean personalize. No “dear sir or madam” here. Use their name.
Be direct about what you want and why you chose them. Point out similarities between your book and the books they’ve already released. In other words, your letter can’t be cookiecutter. You’re a writer — show them you’re creative and can make personal messages that grab attention!
Step 7: Format and Submit Your Manuscript
Ensure you are thoroughly familiar with each publisher/agent submission process. They may want to see your entire manuscript upfront, a portion of it, or none of it until a later step in the process. It might take a positive response from your query letter before they’re ready to see your manuscript.
You Can Always Skip Publishers with Print Bind Ship
If your goal is to get your book into print, the traditional route is by finding a publisher. You’ll get your manuscript into tip-top shape, find publishers/agents, and go through their submission processes five or six at a time.
You can also contact Print Bind Ship and go down the path of self-publishing! Print Bind Ship takes care of the entire process, from printing the books and storing them to shipping them to customers as you make sales.
And who knows, your self-published book may grab the attention of a publisher, and you’ll get that book deal you wanted anyway! Just contact Print Bind Ship, and we’ll walk you through how your book goes from manuscript to customers’ hands.
Here are the answers to some frequent questions:
Yes, publishers can and do pick up self-published books. However, it’s important to retain the rights to your book.
Authors can write for multiple publishers as long as their contracts allow it. With that being said, publishers usually prefer exclusivity.
If your book constantly motivates you to work on it and unbiased 3rd parties think it’s captivating, you may have a publishable book. If you keep getting standard form rejections from publishers, this is a good sign it’s not ready to publish.