How to Get Published

By Mackenzie Wright

  • Overview

    Getting published is not an easy feat. There is a lot of competition, and an editor's time is short. Even if you are not a professional writer, a publishing company expects you to act like one if you are submitting your work, and holds you to the same standards they hold all writers. It is disrespectful to expect a publishing company to give your work serious consideration if you did not take the time to learn the ropes.
  • Planning

  • Step 1

    Perfect your writing before you even consider submitting it for publication. Write as many drafts as necessary to refine it. If possible, have someone whose opinion you respect read it and give their opinions. Proofread it several times to ensure that there are no grammar, spelling or punctuation errors. You don't want to present an editor who doesn't know you with a work in progress, as it is unprofessional.
  • Step 2

    Research markets to find one that would be interested in your manuscript. Resources such as "The Writer's Market" list publishers, or you can look up specific publishers that you are interested in on line. Look specifically for their submission guidelines. Address all communications to a specific editor or assistant. If the submission guidelines don't say who to send it to, call the company and ask to whom submissions should be addressed.
  • Step 3

    Follow the publisher's guidelines to the letter. If they give a strict word count, don't exceed it. If they publish a specific genre, such as romance, don't send them horror or science fiction. Don't email manuscripts to a publishing company that requests manuscripts by mail. If you disregard the publisher's guidelines, your manuscript will be disregarded.
  • Preparing

    • Step 1

      Write a well-thought out query letter. A "query" is short for "inquiry," and it is a type of cover letter. Some publishers request queries only, and some request a partial or complete manuscript. Send a query with every submission. Queries should be no more than one page and should include a brief but exciting description of your story.
    • Step 2

      Format your manuscript professionally. Use standard white typing paper, 1.25 inch margins, 12 point courier font, double-space, and do not justify the right margin. Do not include illustrations. Fancy fonts, scratch-and-sniff colored paper and sketches scream amateur, and may cause your manuscript to be rejected unread.
    • Step 3

      Write your name, address, phone number and e-mail address on the top left of your manuscript. In the upper right-hand corner, write your word count. Your title should be centered, half-way down the page. Double space, and center your by-line beneath it. Four spaces down (two double-spaces), begin your story. On each subsequent page, in the right hand corner, place a header. The header should include your last name, one or two words from your title, and the page number.
  • Sending

    • Step 1

      If you send your manuscript by mail, do not fold it. Place it in a 9 by 12 inch plain manila envelope. Do not staple it together; a paper clip makes it easier to handle. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope. If you wish the manuscript to be returned, use another manila envelope. If you simply wish a response, a number 10 business envelope will do.
    • Step 2

      If manuscripts are requested by email, check submission guidelines to see if the company prefers attachments. Some publishers refuse attachments due to virus concerns, but if they accept attachments, be sure to send your documents in whatever format they request, or Rich Text Format. If they specify no attachments, paste your text into the body of an email.
    • Step 3

      Wait at least as long as the publisher indicated in their submission guidelines for a response. Some publishers may indicate they respond in as little as two months, others may take six or more. Give them at least two to four weeks beyond their typical response time before sending a follow-up letter.
    • Step 4

      If your manuscript is rejected, do not send angry letters, letters explaining why you think they made a mistake or the same manuscript unchanged to the same publishing company. If you do, consider that bridge burned for the future. Simply review, possibly revise your manuscript again and send it to a different publisher for consideration.
    • Skill: Moderately Challenging
    • Ingredients:
    • Listings of markets
    • Perfect copy of your manuscript
    • Well-written query letter

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