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Getting Ready to Submit
When I began to query my first manuscript–to agents and publishers–I had a query letter but little else. I quickly learned that there are all sorts of submission formats one needs on the publishing journey because there are all sorts of ways to follow a path to publication. So, in no particular order, here are the different submission formats you will want to create before you start querying!
Duh. Right? It is probably a good idea to find a contest or giveaway or some type of query review before you send yours out. These opportunities are all over Twitter. #PassOrPages from Operation Awesome is one you could try. An agent gives feedback on what works or doesn’t work with a query and first 250 words. Other writers often offer query critiques. QueryShark is a blog that critiques queries and has helpful info, too. Miss Snark’s First Victim is a blog that also runs some critique contests or contests with a chance to get feedback as well as a request.
I stick to a 3 paragraph format. Paragraph 1: intro the character and the hook. Paragraph 2: Brief summary of some of the journey, obstacles encountered. Paragraph 3: End with the stakes, hint at what may happen or why solving the conflict is necessary. Then add one paragraph about you and your credentials. And of course, PERSONALIZE! I know…duh.
Ahhh. This is the worst! It’s difficult to tell your entire story in one page. I’m not certain that the quality of this will make or break your submission. I’ve managed to get requests and then published, and I don’t think my synopsis was all that great. But you need one. And they’re difficult to write.
My style is this: I write 2-3 sentences summarizing every chapter. So I go through my manuscript chapter by chapter. This ensures I will hit the whole story, and limiting myself to a few sentences ensures that I won’t just create a second draft of my novel! 🙂
You will need to be able to pitch your story in 140 characters. And actually less because you always have to include the pitch party hashtag and the hashtag for your genre. Great! An already difficult task becomes even more difficult. The advice I’ve been given is to use a formula like this: (Character) in (this situation) must do (action) in order to (solve problem). Brenda Drake has a great post about this on her Pitch Wars web site here.
This is basically a one-sentence pitch. A logline. It’s one (compound) sentence or two sentences max. It’s a bit like the Twitter pitch except you are not limited by characters. So that makes it a little easier. See the Pitch Wars link above for hints to help you with this. But you have to have a hook and indicate what your story is about all in one sentence (or 2). I was happy with mine for Chasing Eveline: In order to save the only remaining connection to her mother, Ivy Higgins sets out on a quest to reunite 80s band Chasing Eveline, but it may lead her to an encore she’s not expecting. I used it on the back of my bookmarks–so it served a purpose later on!
This one may not be as common, but I entered at least three different online contests that asked for a 3-sentence pitch. For this one, I take the Twitter pitch format and expand each part into a sentence (1. character in a situation, 2. must do what action, 3. in order to solve which problem).
Different agents and different contests ask for different excerpts of your manuscript. You’ll need to create documents with all these lengths of your manuscript to submit with your pitch:
- first 250 words
- 1st 5 pages
- 1st 10 pages
- 1st chapter
- 1st 3 chapters
- full manuscript
It’s easier to create these documents ahead of time so they are ready. I can’t tell you the number of Word documents I had all over my desktop as I rushed to create the different lengths with each submission.
Trust me, if you have these pitches and documents created ahead of time and have them in a submissions folder on your desktop, your submission life will be easier. No less stressful, but easier! And your desktop will be less cluttered! Lol.
Did I miss any submission formats? Do you have any tips for writing any of these! Do share!!
I am a YA writer and middle school teacher. I have a B.A. in English from UCLA and a Master’s degree in Educational Administration. I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and currently reside in Los Angeles, California, with my dog Mr. Darcy.
When I’m not living in fictional worlds inside my head, I run all sorts of distances, torture my body at CrossFit, and DVR entirely too many television shows. I dream of one day returning to the Midwest to live on a farm. Or perhaps owning a cookie delivery service.