You’ve got your manuscript finally completed. It’s some of the best work you’ve ever done. You’ve even taken the editing and polishing steps needed so that your story is as good as it can be. It’s printed and ready to go to a publisher and you’re needing to know how to write a submission letter to a publisher.
Here’s Rule #1 when it comes to writing a submission letter. It must be completely professional in all aspects. This includes an email letter you might send if you’re submitting a digital version of your manuscript. Whether you write a printed letter or an email, the information contained here must be followed to the letter for a publisher to take it seriously. Remember to include a self-addressed stamped envelope [#10 is the best envelope for this] for a reply to your submission letter if you mail a hard copy of your manuscript so you can get a response.
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Here are the elements you’ll need to include with your letter. Make sure to use these elements in order for best results.
#1. Include the date. A dated letter will help the publisher be able to keep accurate records of your submission. It’s a simple thing to forget about including, especially on an email, but many letters get ignored because they don’t have this.
#2. Be specific about your subject. A publisher needs to know exactly why you’re writing a submission letter so the right person can review your materials. Publishers get thousands of submissions every week, so leaving this off your letter could cause it to get lost.
#3. Discuss the status of your manuscript. It is best to send a submission letter when your manuscript is ready to publish. Many publishers do not like the idea of simultaneous submissions, so make this a proprietary submission whenever possible.
#4. Include your representation. If you have an agent, this is the place to mention that fact. Include their contact information if you do.
#5. Use a formal introduction. “To Whom It May Concern” is a good start if you don’t have a contact name at the publisher. If at all possible, get the name of the person who accepts submissions like yours so you can personally address them.
#6. Create a short overview introduction to your manuscript. If you could summarize your manuscript in 2-3 short sentences, what would it say? Describe your book as thoroughly and as briefly as possible so the publisher can determine if they are interested in the idea. Include the page count or word count in this description, as well as the title of the story. If it has been professionally edited, make sure to note this fact as well.
#7. Your second paragraph is about your marketing ideas. Who was your target audience when writing the manuscript? Don’t go into a lengthy description, but do include a few ideas about who you think will purchase the book when published. Also make sure you note how the story ends in this section so the publisher understands how the book is intended to relate to your target audience.
#8. Close your letter in the third paragraph. Thank the publisher for the time in reviewing your information. Mention the self-addressed stamped envelope for a response. If you want the manuscript returned, you’ll need to include another self-addressed stamped envelope for it as well. Mention that you look forward to hearing from the publisher about their decision. Keep it a simple invitation.
#9. Include your contact information on the submission letter. Make sure that you use your real name and not your pen name for this. Email names, Twitter handles, and other online pseudonyms are considered unprofessional here. Your current mailing address is also necessary and some publishers may not even respond if you don’t include this information. Your email address goes underneath your complete mailing address. Make sure you test your email link if submitting this letter online to make sure it works. If it does not, you won’t get a response.
It is vitally important for your submission letter to be as perfect as possible. There should be zero spelling or grammatical errors.
For the most part, a submission letter to a publisher is very basic. It must be professional in design and tone while it contains information that is required for a decision to be made about the manuscript. Without these elements, there is a good chance that your manuscript will be rejected, often without a response. Follow these tips and you may just see an improved response rate to your queries.