Give your submission a chance!


You'll want to review these guidelines before submitting a query, a synopsis, or a sample of your work. They tell you specifically what we are looking for when we review your work!

Your query:

Within moments of opening your query, it has, on its own legs, raced into the hasn't-got-a-clue crowd or migrated to the much, much smaller sounds-good-want-more group.

You can be a beginner without being an amateur

As publishers, we expect your query to be competent and professional. Minimally, that means

  1. your subject matter is compatible with our interests,
  2. you have followed directions and given us the information we requested,
  3. you have completed the query form thoughtfully,
  4. you have not left any applicable section on the form blank, and
  5. you have demonstrated that you understand the essential elements of a good query.

The essentials of an effective query

  1. Be succinct but comprehensive in your query-form responses.
  2. Sharpen your "hook" sentence. It should be your single best selling tool.
  3. Know what kind of a book you've written, and the general conventions, pacing, and arcs for that genre. And show your mastery of those elements in the summary.
  4. Engage and intrigue us in the summary. This is the place to demonstrate that you know how to create a line of tension, organize your material, and write effective, error-free prose. Start with your "hook."
  5. Don't tell us how good your book is, or how funny it is, or how unforgettable your characters are.
  6. Since you are expected to participate in the marketing of your work, know who your likeliest readers are and have some idea where to find them and how to reach them. Formulate a sentence like "My book should appeal to readers who like the work of (author) and (author); my work, like theirs...." Or, "This book will appeal to readers of both (genre) and (genre)...." Or, "Like my inspirations (author) and (author), my work...."
  7. If yours is a work of nonfiction, you should be able to identify the journals, associations, and conventions or conferences that are of interest to your readers.
  8. You should be able to identify realistically at least some of the awards and recognitions for which your novel or nonfiction work might qualify.

When you're ready to give us the best query you can write, please click here to be brought to our query form.

If, after reading your query, we ask to see a sample of your work:

Congratulations!

When we read the first pages of a novel or a piece of narrative nonfiction, we are looking for more than compelling characters, purposeful pacing, and appropriate, error-free language. We also expect a palpable line of tension, with the beginnings of an interesting narrative thread.

In order to make it to the next stage (where we request your full manuscript), you'll want to follow these guidelines for the submission of your writing sample:

  1. Double-space your typescript, and leave a margin of at least one inch on all sides.
  2. Remove all header/footer information except for the page number.
  3. Please recast your sample in 11-point Courier or New Courier.
  4. Go back and reread what you intend to submit. Cut everything that does not have forward momentum. Remember that it's nearly always an error to put into the first pages elaborate backstory for characters we don't yet care about.
  5. Give us believable characters. Believable situations. Believable challenges.
  6. Go back and reread. There's still more you can take out. Every word that remains should be vividly functional, every action necessary.
  7. Go back and reread once more. This time, ask the same hard questions we will:
  8. Then ask one more question: Is this the best I can do with this material?

We know how hard it is to cut words and (gasp!) even whole scenes, but most of the material we reject is (as we would say if writing a waterfront noir) as bloated as a three-day floater. Hence our emphasis on error-free prose that propels the action forward.

Your synopsis:

The synopsis should not exceed 300 words. It should tell us how the book is put together, and, if fiction, the resolution of the story.

A good synopsis demonstrates that

  1. you know exactly what your book is about,
  2. you can organize your material coherently and compellingly,
  3. you can sacrifice the superfluous,
  4. you are deft with description and characterization, and
  5. you can write engaging and error-free prose.

 


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