Are You Ready to Submit Your Story?

An email showed up in my inbox recently asking if I could help a would-be writer understand the world of writing and publishing. That's a pretty broad question, so I replied: Possibly. What specifically do you want to know?

Over a few emails, this person, I'll call him Joe, confided he'd already submitted his novel and was awaiting acceptance, so he wanted to know what to expect during the publishing cycle.

My heart sank a little at those words. Unfortunately, many first-time writers send their manuscripts in with full anticipation that the agent/editor/publisher will call them with an offer. Wouldn't it be nice if that's how it worked?

At this point, I decided a phone call might serve Joe better. It took some time, and a few road bumps, to get it scheduled, but we did talk last week.

Based on this conversation, I decided to focus this week's post on some tips for beginners about what and how to submit your writing.


Your Manuscript

  1. Complete the manuscript before submitting it. If you don't have a completed manuscript, then the publishing expert could lose interest when you aren't ready to send them the full work.
  2. Proofread, edit, and revise your manuscript several times. A first draft is not the final polished piece.
  3. Ask other writers to read and give you feedback on your polished manuscript. If you can find a writing critique group, class, or conference, take advantage of the knowledge you can gain from these venues. You'll be amazed what they'll teach you.
  4. Find a reputable freelance editor to proofread your work and give you feedback on the story's development. You will typically pay for this, but it's worth it.
  5. Make sure you have a back-up copy of your finished product.



  1. Do exhaustive research before you submit your manuscript to an agent, editor, or publisher. Make sure they work with the genre and are open to submissions.
  2. Write a query letter and synopsis of your story. If you don't know how to do this, then research this online. Many agents tell you exactly what they expect to find in these documents.
  3. Submit to the publishing professional exactly how their website tells you to do this.If they want it double-spaced, twelve point Times New Roman font, then that's what you do. If they request a hard copy, then send a hard copy.
  4. Keep track of the names and contact information of the people you submit to.
  5. Check to see if they list a typical response time or if they say they will only respond if interested.
  6. Follow-up if the professional indicates you can do so after a specified amount of time.
  7. Don't jump at the first offer to represent you and your work. Do your research again to make sure this is right for you. If you're not interested in self-publishing, then don't pay them to represent you. If you are interested in self-publishing, research those companies to make sure they're reputable. Unfortunately, there are a lot of scammers out there ready to take your money.


The Waiting Game

  1. Don't stop writing. While you send one work out to the world in hopes of securing publication, keep writing.
  2. Attend conferences and workshops to continue your path of learning.

These are essential steps. I'm sure I've missed something, so feel free to post what you would add to this list in the comments.


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