Finished the manuscript? What’s the next step?
My latest Regency manuscript was read and critiqued by a professional editorial service. And taking on board the editor’s advice, I made some essential additions to what I had thought was a reasonable first draft. With corrections made, I am now ready to start the long, long, long submission process to a literary agent.
However the dilemma is…can you submit an unedited manuscript or should you go the whole hog and have the MS copy edited and proofread before handing it over?
In other words…is the manuscript finished, does it shine and does it contain perfect punctuation so that it appeals to the reader/agent/publisher; or is it going to hit the slush pile because it needs a final polish?
I’ve been told some literary agents are prepared (and prefer) to copy edit, line edit and proofread a MS themselves prior to approaching a publisher with the MS they represent.
Other agents like the ‘T’ to be crossed and the ‘I’ dotted before you send your submissions to them.
Whether submitting to an agent or publisher, generally you will be asked to provide:
A. A Cover Letter (which contains…)
- Title of your novel
- Author name
- Word count
- Your contact details
- A short bio about you, mentioning your writing experience and credentials, (awards and competitions won, etc.)
B. Your Pitch
This is a short (three sentence) description of your novel. Something you might use in a magazine to promote or advertise the book.
C. A Detailed Synopsis
A synopsis is usually 1-2 pages in length and tells the story from cover to cover. It includes the spoiler…who murdered who, or the Happy-Ever-After ending. As well as giving an outline of what happens as each chapter unfolds, it’s also advisable to give details or at least some sort of insight into your characters emotional motives and conflicts.
D. Sample of Your Novel
Generally an agent or publisher requests you submit the first three chapters of the completed manuscript.
Agents and publishers have their own preferences. Visit their websites, read their submission page carefully, and stick to their rules.
If they request double spaced, font 12, wide margins…then that’s what you give them. If they are only open to postal submissions…then start printing.
Good luck with your submissions…