Simplified Steps to Submit Your Work to a Publisher
Format your manuscript to industry standards: 1” margins, 12-point font, double-spaced, 5-point paragraph indent, header with name, title and page number, etc.
Edit and Proofread your work in detail: consistency, timeline, pace, clarity, grammar, punctuation, spelling, typos, plot and character arcs, POV, word usage, etc.
Research the type of publisher that publishes what you have written: libraries, bookstores, and the internet are great sources.
Check each publisher’s submission guidelines: Be sure to follow them. They are specific, and many do not want unsolicited manuscripts, only query letters and chapter samples or a synopsis.
Write a synopsis, if required: one-page, present tense – what your story is about, not your plot.
Write a query letter: one page with word count, title, genre, short bio, any previous publications, audience appeal, brief explanation of story; include a synopsis or sample chapter, if required.
Paper or email submissions when a full manuscript is requested:
If paper, print your manuscript – single-sided, white bond paper, black ink, etc. (do not bind, staple, clip or otherwise confine pages to folders or manufactured covers. Use a box or large envelope, an elastic may be used)
If electronic: Attach the manuscript Word document in the email to the publisher, formatted exactly as you would for a printed copy, following publishers’ guidelines.
Review submission guidelines & send: make sure you have included everything required. For a paper submission, include a self-addressed envelope of sufficient size, carrying adequate return postage.
Exclusive, multiple, or simultaneous submissions: check the publisher’s submission system. Most want exclusive submissions. Some require an agent. If only an agent can submit, repeat the above, geared towards agents.
The Wait: Write a new piece of work while you are waiting several months to hear from a publisher or agent, so you have something on hand if they want to see more of your work.
Judith Silverthorne, Writer in Residence
Judith Silverthorne is an award-winning Saskatchewan writer. She has authored more than a dozen books, many of which are children’s novels. She has also written two non-fiction biographical adult books, and has authored extensively as a freelance writer for newspapers and magazines.