The Guidelines

You’re about to submit to a publisher, whether directly to the submissions manager or through an automated system, such as Submittable. In your quest to prepare the absolute best submission, since everyone knows you need to send your book to many publishers at a time, you have spent most of your time reading numerous blogs about how to prepare your book for submissions. Most of the last few months have been spent preparing a synopsis that will make everyone weep, your first three chapters are so great that you’re assured a contract immediately, your cover letter is professional, and your marketing plan, if it’s needed, will bring nods of approval.

Guess you’re ready to send off those submissions, following directions that lean heavily in the direction of “No matter what the publisher’s website says, you must first and always submit a query of 3-5 chapters, a detailed synopsis, and a cover letter. Occasionally, a publisher will ask you to also submit a marketing plan, to show them how you plan to promote your book.”

With all this sage advice in hand from what you assume are industry professionals, you then make a list of the publishers will best represent your book to the public. To be certain you aren’t about to be scammed by a publisher pretending to be traditional rather than vanity, you’ve checked those websites that present this information.

The day arrives when you determine you’ve done everything correctly. You sit in front of your computer, with a checklist of publisher’s names and begin your foray into the world of submitting your book. You might frown when you see these publishers are mostly asking for the full manuscript, but you shake your head and decide this can’t be right. Their guidelines must not be up to date, because all of the experts you’ve read say that you should only be submitting a query, not a full manuscript. Confident once again, you begin the process of emailing your submissions to each publisher on your list. Once this is complete, you sit back and release a deep breath. Surely, you’ll soon have multiple offers to read your full book, but first you need to finish editing the other chapters.

Before you can close your email, so you can prepare your book for what you are sure will be a lottery to publish it, you’re astonished to see that not one, not two, but half a dozen publishers or more have already responded to your query. Your thoughts at this point are probably—So fast? I must have really wowed them  !—but once you open the first email, your hopes are crushed under the words you’re reading…

XYZ Publishing does not accept queries. We thank you for your interest and wish you the best of luck elsewhere.

Each of those other emails say pretty much the same thing. As you peruse these declinations, you are starting to understand one thing…

You should have read and believed the guidelines first. If you were very lucky, one or maybe two of those submissions managers or editors in chief might have glanced at your query and decided they wanted to see more, but more than likely, you are now realizing you will have to submit to your second list of publishers, those you thought might make a good fit for your book but weren’t as exciting as they first list.

You’ve also figured out something else. The bloggers whose advice you took so proudly weren’t associated with any of the publishers you wanted to accept your book. Their advice that publishers really want a query no matter what their guidelines said was in fact misinformation.

I’m sure at this point you’re wondering what you can do next. Protocol advises in this situation to move on and accept that you made a mistake. Instead of focusing on bloggers before you submit your book, read the guidelines. Make notes that certain publishers might still ask for a query, but that most today want the full manuscript.

About the K.C. Sprayberry

Born and raised in Southern California’s Los Angeles basin, K.C. Sprayberry spent years traveling the United States and Europe while in the Air Force before settling in northwest Georgia. A new empty nester with her husband of more than twenty years, she spends her days figuring out new ways to torment her characters and coming up with innovative tales from the South and beyond.

She’s a multi-genre author who comes up with ideas from the strangest sources. Those who know her best will tell you that nothing is safe or sacred when she is observing real life. In fact, she considers any situation she witnesses as fair game when plotting a new story.

Find out more about my books at these social media sites:


Very true. And while it's disheartening, especially when you read agented submissions only, you have to keep looking and always read the fine print.
Martin Kloess said…
Thank you for this insight.

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