Submitting your manuscript can be a hard thing to do. It's risky to put yourself (and your work) out there, so before you do, there are a few things you should have to make the process easier.
Whether you’re aiming to submit your book to a publishing house, a literary agent, or moving toward self publishing, there are few things most submission forms have in common. Preparing these items in advance can help you understand your manuscript better and help you and the publishing house when you’re ready to market your book to the world when the time comes, so even if it’s not requested in the submission form, you’ll want to have these items in your arsenal.
Back Cover Blurb
Every book has a short description found on the back cover or the inside flap of the dust jacket. This blurb is designed to sell the book to readers. The blurb you write may not end up as the final version printed on the book, but writing something with no spoilers that tells the reader, agent, or publisher why they want to read this book in an engaging way is fantastic practice and usually required somewhere in the submission process.
The synopsis is a summary of the book in 1-2 pages. Think of this like you’re doing a book report on your own book. Who are the main characters? What is the main plot? Does everyone make it out alive? What lessons should be learned by the reader or the characters by the end? Tell the complete story, beginning to end, as concisely as you can.
Books that are Similar to Yours (AKA: Comparable Titles)
This is one of the most complicated segments of any submission or marketing process, because your instinct is likely to say that because your book is an original idea, there won’t be anything out there like it. However, as you or your publisher approach bookstores and as your agent reaches out to editors, you’ll need to strike a happy medium between proving your book is unique and also proving that it will sell. Ideally, the titles you choose should be published in the last three years from a range of publishing houses. Write a short comparison paragraph about each one, explaining how your book is similar to theirs (look at characters, themes, tropes, setting, and tone). This will also help you narrow down your genre, because you may look into the books you thought were similar and realize the book you thought was a suspense novel is actually a thriller.
Every submission will request something different in terms of writing samples and excerpts. Most literary agents request somewhere between the first page and the first fifty pages. Some request the first three chapters. Some publishers, like ourselves, request the whole book. Make sure to read submission guidelines carefully, but it won’t hurt to have a few documents saved on your computer of varying lengths—first five pages, first ten pages, first three chapters, and first fifty pages. That way, as you’re submitting, you can easily grab the sample they’re looking for.
Links to your Author Platform and a Marketing Plan
Inevitably, at some stage of the submission or publication process, your social media links or a marketing plan will be requested. While it’s highly contested whether or not an author “needs” to be on social media, if you’re a debut author with very little marketing experience, social media is the easiest way for you to connect with readers and for your readers to connect with you.
Publishers and Literary Agents are looking to get a feel for how you’ll market your book. If you don’t want to manage two social media accounts, you’ll need to provide them with your plan to create a platform. That platform doesn’t have to be online. It can be speaking engagements, a weekly column in your local newspaper, or even the connections and interest you’ve already gained from industry leaders in the same field as your book.
If you do have social media, it’s still a good idea to come up with some other ways you can help get the word out about your book. Interviewing on podcasts or YouTube channels is a great way to start, but if you’re confident you can gain name recognition through freelance article writing, guest-posting on blogs, or renting a booth at your local craft fair. You can be creative in this, just make sure you have a plan. The publishing house you land with will likely help you formulate that plan, but it’s always easier to brainstorm more ideas off of good ideas than it is to start from square one.
Quick Facts about the Book
Lastly, because you never know when you’ll be across the table from someone who knows someone in publishing, or because you’ll be pitching your novel in person, you’ll want to make sure you know a few quick facts about your book.
Make sure you know:
- Approximate word count (80,000 is just fine, the publisher or literary agent doesn’t need to know your book is exactly 80,047 words)
- Genre and Subgenre (if applicable)
- Target Audience (who is the book meant for? Think in terms of both age range, similar authors, and current pop culture)
- A one sentence hook or tagline
- Main themes of the book
- If you’re aiming for author publishing, this is the tip of the iceberg of all the data you’ll need on your book, but if you’re aiming for traditional or hybrid publishing, these major categories should help you move through the submission process fairly quickly.
If you’re interested in submitting your book to us for consideration for a hybrid or traditional contract, please check out our submission page for more information on what we’re looking for. We routinely work with debut authors and love coming aside authors in any stage of their publishing journey—whether you have a platform or not, whether you’ve written five books or whether you’ve only written one. We’re excited to hear from you.