GUEST BLOG POST!!! By my awesome writing buddy Lisa Tolk. Thanks Lisa for joining the fun! =)
Okay, no one actually forces a writer to submit their work to agents and publishers, but when you have captured an idea, worked hard for months (or years!) to get it all down on paper, and actually finished a manuscript that you love and are excited about you want to share it with the world, right? Or at lease have more than three people who aren’t related to you read it.
Which brings us to the submission process. It’s hard. It’s not pretty. It’s frustrating. But it has to be done. I love the writing part. I like to research things I don’t know much about and include them in my story. I like to find a fantastic word to describe an image. I like to try to bring my characters to life and have them sneak into my head while doing laundry or taking a shower or listening to my kids. (okay maybe that last one is inappropriate, but it happens.) But submitting my manuscript is a major pain! Every agent wants something different. This one wants only a query letter. That one wants a query letter, synopsis, and one chapter. This one wants the first five pages posted in an e-mail. That one doesn’t accept e-mail , wants the first three chapters, minus the query letter but with a cover letter and needs an SASE. It makes my head spin just writing about it.
So, I have a couple of tips that have helped me in this process because I have been learning some things as I go. First, there a lot of helps online. My fellow writer and friend, Carolyn, (who also happens to contribute to this blog) introduced Query tracker to me, which is a great site to get organized. I also have purchased the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market guide on selling your manuscript and it lists all of the agents and publishers, what they’re accepting, how to submit, etc. It also has lots of good tips on the publishing world. Because I am a visual person, I still like to write down on paper which agents I’m contacting, the details of what they need, when I sent it, and check things off as I go. That doesn’t work for everyone, but it has helped me. I also created several files in my computer that have different lengths of my story so that I can get things together quickly and more easily when I submit.
For example, I have a file with just the first chapter, one with just the first five pages, the first three chapters, and so on. That way, when an agent asks for a certain length, it’s only a click away. Then I have a couple of different lengths of synopses, depending on what is asked for, a query letter that can be adapted, and a formatted cover letter. Before I did this it was like starting over every time I wanted to submit to an agent. To have all of these options in one place and be able to just copy and paste or print them out when needed has been a great help for me to stay organized and save a lot of time in this dreaded process we call submitting your work. I hope this helps!
Now I’m going to go buy myself a cheeseburger because I just wrote my first blog!