Back in the day, a writer could drop the full manuscript of his or her novel over a publisher’s transom (thus the term “over-the-transom,” or unsolicited, submission). . . . The prospective editor would then read the manuscript, love it (or hate it), and a novel would be born (or die). Publishing was simple. Life was simple.
Life is not as simple these days, and neither is publishing. Editors at the publishing houses get so many submissions now, if they were still to accept over-the-transom manuscripts, they wouldn’t be able to push open the door to their building in the morning, let alone read all the manuscripts blocking their passage.
Today the proper route to take is to first find an agent (unless, of course, you’re planning to self-publish, but that’s for another blog post entirely). And don’t even think about sending a full manuscript off to an agent unsolicited.
But how does a manuscript get solicited?
The simple answer is: the query letter.
There are many styles of query letters and numerous how-to books telling you how to write one. But if you find yourself overwhelmed and unsure where to start, try getting your feet wet with some simple guidelines laid out by my colleague at the L.A. Editors and Writers Group: Kristen Weber on How to Write a Perfect Query Letter.
Good luck and keep the faith!
Thank you, Nomi, for these very practical posts.I appreciate that you share suggestions from your colleagues, as well sharing your own insights as in the previous post “Weathering Rejection.” I love your “been-there” authenticity. Actually, I have loved every one of your posts, though I do not often take time to comment. As one who just started a blog, I now know how much comments mean to a blogger. I would highly value your comments on my website blog at http://www.FamiliesHealingSexualAbuse.com.
Congratulations on starting your own blog, Carlene! A great step toward creating a platform for your future book. I’ll go check it out.