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Submissions | Factsheets



WritersServices Factsheet 5 by Michael Legat

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Before submitting your work to a publisher or to a magazine or newspaper it is essential to do your market research. Ask the owner or manager of a bookshop for advice, go to the public library to see which publishers bring out the kind of book which you have written. In the case of features for a magazine or newspaper, read the magazines or newspapers yourself to see what kind of material is likely to interest them. Look for additional information in the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook or The Writer’s Handbook (copies of both should be in your local Public Library – or buy them yourself), especially to find out if the publishers are willing or not to read submissions direct from members of the public, rather than being willing to consider submissions only from agents.

You should make a list of possible outlets for your work. Remember that the publishers are unlikely to want work which is too similar to that of their best-selling writers, but other publishers may well be interested.

While deciding on where to send your work, you should try to discover which member of the staff would be the one to whom your submission should go. Telephone or write to check whether the editor would be willing to look at your work, or send it if your submission is in the form of a synopsis and specimen chapters.

The same applies if you want to approach an agent.

Simultaneous submissions are accepted nowadays, but it is considered only fair for you to advise those to whom you submit your work that it is being considered by other editors at the same time.

Submissions should be typed or produced on a work processor, in double spacing on one side of the paper only.

If you deliver your typescript yourself, there is little chance that the editor to whom it is addressed will be willing at that stage to see you. Just hand your package in at the Reception area.

In writing to book publishers and magazines and newspapers, you are expected to enclose postage for the return of your material if it is rejected.

You should not expect a prompt reply – the delay can often be two or three months or more.

Few editors will give any reasons for rejecting your work. However, if in turning it down they pay you any compliments, you can take them at face value. Publishers don’t encourage would-be writers unless they mean it. If your work is rejected six times or more, without any snippets of praise, you should look at it again, to see if you can discover what is wrong. It may be a long time since you last read it, and with fresh eyes you may see glaring faults.

There is much more on the subject in An Author’s Guide to Publishing

© Michael Legat 2001