How to Get Your Book Rejected, Part Three
In Part II of this series I touched on the importance of knowing your chosen genre. If you want to write mysteries, your story should follow the basic formulae (the murder, the clues, catching the killer) without going off into several tangents and irritating potential publishers. If you want to write erotic romance, don't wait until page 400 of a 401-page book for your characters to have sex. Read books in the genre and know what is being published and sought.
Today we will discuss something not related to the quality of your writing, but the presentation. First, though, consider the work of an editor or a publisher. In a large publishing house like Bantam or Kensington, literally thousands of manuscripts are sent annually by aspiring and established authors seeking publication. For the small press pub or eBook publisher, there could be hundreds of queries and submissions sent each year or, depending upon popularity, each month. Having to wade through all this prose, whether in hard copy or onscreen, can put great strain on the eyes. When you think of how quickly these editors need to fill publication schedules, that is a lot of work to read non-stop.
If other editors are like me, there is a specific font and style that is conducive to comfortable reading. The last thing somebody reading novels for potential publication wants is to be surprised, and irritated, by an improper manuscript. Hence, if you do not want a contract you have to break Rule Number Three: KNOW THE PROPER FORMAT.
Take a look at any publisher's website. Is there a link to a submissions page? Are the guidelines for proper manuscript format detailed? Does the publisher prefer hard copy submissions over e-mail attachments? Is there a specific font, size, margin, and/or spacing requirement? Does your manuscript meet all of the publisher's prerequisites?
If not, you should definitely make sure it does. Take it from a publisher/editor who must wade through hundreds of manuscripts to find that hidden jewel. Put yourself in an editor's shoes for one moment: would you want to read a manuscript riddled with too many hard returns that chop up paragraphs. Do you want to squint at tiny text or decipher an unreadable font? Such annoyances cause more than headaches, carelessness during the submission process can cost you a contract, and very likely any future hope of getting in with an editor or publisher.
Think about it: if you were the owner of a company, would you hire anybody who couldn't or wouldn't follow directions? Would you hire somebody who cut corners and made sloppy presentations? Of course not. Therefore, it stands to reason that an editor or publisher is not going to spend time on an author who didn't follow their proper procedure for submission. The author might not think much of skipping a few steps to expedite a submission, but imagine what a publisher must think. He may get the impression you do not think much of the house to deliver such a manuscript. Your submission is your first impression, make it a good one.
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