Although it seems like another lifetime ago, I remember vividly the moment I decided that I was going to write a book. I had just finished reading another romance novel and I thought I can do this I mean, I had been editor-in-chief of my school paper, won a writing award from the Courier News, and was infamous among by friends and family for writing short, entertaining stories about people I imagined were real. How hard could it be to turn all that talent into a 300 page book?
Over the course of the next few months, I sat down at the word-processor and banged out a story that spanned about 320 pages. With absolutely no idea of what I was doing, I opened up the front cover of one of my favorite books, copied the address of the publisher from the inside pages onto a manila envelope, stuffed in the manuscript and sent it off to wait for fortune and glory.
Well that was on a Thursday. By Monday it was back in my mailbox. I figured someone at the publisher’s had made a mistake, so I put it in another manila envelope and sent it back out. That was Tuesday. By Friday it was back.
Now it was a mystery.
That Saturday I was attending my first professional writers meeting with Barbara Brenton, now a NY Times Best-selling author, back then a Harlequin author. I had met Barbara in a bank in Hillsborough a week or two earlier and, while standing in the teller line, we got to talking and she spoke about this wonderful writers’ group and thought I should join..
For some reason, a little voice inside my head advised me not to say anything about my “submission..” so in a rare moment of sanity, I listened to it.
After the meeting I knew why my manuscript had come back in record time.
It was not formatted correctly, had no page numbers, no chapters, no synopsis, no query letter, everyone but the kitchen sink had a role in the story and both the hero and heroine ended up dead. Some romance, huh?
I NEVER told anyone what I did – until now.
While we all have heard the story about a manuscript written on lined yellow legal paper, in pencil, with coffee stains on the bottom with an editor liking it so much that she just had to publish it, and then it sold a hundred cajillion copies, the reality is that it doesn’t happen very often. Maybe once in a hundred cajillion submissions.
In today’s tight market and with the advent of independent publishing, the competition for the available publishing slots, especially for first books, is incredible. To give your manuscript the best chance for one of them, even before your great story gets read, you need to know the submission guide lines. Or at the very least – have page numbers and chapters!
Seriously, though, sometimes there is a question niggling in the back of your mind but you think it is not relevant enough to ask. Not true. Here’s you chance. Ask away.