Once your manuscript is complete you are ready to begin your search for the publisher that will best meet your needs. Research your genre to find publishers who accept what you have written. Look at books that they have already published and determine where your story will fit in.
Once you have found a publisher who catches your eye, make sure that you take the time to read their submission guidelines carefully. You may have written the most wonderful story in the world, but if you do not follow the publisher’s specifications, you may find that your manuscript will lie untouched at the bottom of a pile of submissions from authors who did follow the rules.
Once you have read the guidelines, you are ready to work on preparing your submission. You might need to go back and fix your spacing and indentations to the specifications of whatever publisher you are submitting to. You need to write now a query letter that introduces you as an author, your novel, and your level of experience in writing. This should include a brief biography and a list of publishing credits. In the query letter, let the publisher know why your story is different, who will be your target audience and how you plan to market your novel.
The synopsis should be a 2-4 page summary of the story including the ending. It should be well thought out and follow your plot line from beginning to end. Often this is the first sample of writing that a publisher looks at. A publisher knows if it was thrown together at the last minute. You should take as much time and care with your synopsis as you would with any scene of your novel.
Having a plan of action should your novel get published is an important tool of preparation for you. Let your potential publisher know how you plan to get your name out there. Will you do book signings, contests, chats, online signings, book club readings, or placement in independent bookstores? Do you have a website? Do you have any special groups that you know would be interested in this type of novel? This is called a promotional plan and some publishers require it. Whether it is required or not, this is a good tool to develop prior to submission.
There are also a number of things that you should not do when submitting a manuscript. The first is to send a manuscript with no query letter or synopsis. Publishers like to get an idea of what the story is about before plunging into a novel.
Second, make sure that the guidelines are followed. If the publisher specifies that all submissions should be double spaced in times new roman font, saved as an RTF file. Do not send something that is single-spaced in a gothic font saved as a PDF.
Third, do not tell the publisher how wonderful your work is, or how much you think he or she will enjoy it. Stick strictly to the facts.
Fourth, do not write the publisher over and over again asking if they have yet to read your manuscript. Most publishers will list an average response time. Only after that time has passed should you contact the publisher for an update.
Finally, when you send your Manuscript, make sure that your document is appropriately labeled with your name, pen name, title of the book, word count, and email address. When manuscripts are sent by email, your document is often saved in another location. This manuscript could quite possibly be passed to various staff within the company in order to find the line that best fits your title. If there is no identifying information on the Manuscript itself, a publisher can not respond to you.
Overall, when you are submitting your work, remember to be professional, kind, respectful, and patient. The publisher is working hard to review works and put out the best quality pieces to our public. As an author, it is your job to follow some simple guidelines when submitting a manuscript in order to allow the process to go smoothly and your work to be accepted.