How to Submit Your Picture Book Professionally!
The Do’s and Don’ts
DO – type it.
DON’T – handwrite it.
DO – send a copy
DON’T – send your original
DO – make it neat, clean and presentable
DON’T – accidentally include a squashed prawn from your sarnie!
(Yes, this has actually happened)
DO – Number pages and put your name and the book title on each
DON’T – waste paper i.e.
- don’t type a line per A4 sheet of paper
- don’t use a HUGE font
- don’t embed massive sketches or images.
(Yes, we have experienced all of the above! If your manuscript needlessly takes up a lot of pages, your prospective editor/agent will be less inclined to print it off and circulate it)
DO – Make sure full contact details are on the front page of the manuscript
DON’T – feel that you have to include anything other than your work
Things that have accompanied submissions:
- a crisp £20 note
- a squashed cupcake
- a pair of socks (thankfully unused)
- a baby blanket
(OK – the last ‘DON’T’ was a bit light-hearted but it’s important to have faith in your own ability; an editor or agent will be most impressed by your skills. You don’t need a gimmick!).
When your book is as polished as it possibly can be, you're ready to submit and draft up a cracking cover letter.
Make your cover letter:
Short – make it short. It need only be one or two paragraphs maximum
Sharp – give it a bit of your personality. Nothing makes you relate to your reader more than a ray of your personality shining through
Snappy – keep to the point; make it succinct to keep your reader interested
The cover letters that grab my attention generally:
It helps if the editor can tell you put a bit of thought into this, making it:
- pertinent to the age group
- reflective of the text
As we talked about in an earlier blog – it helps massively if you KNOW YOUR HOOK. If you do, shout about it in your opening paragraph; you will have gone part of the way to ‘selling’ your text to your prospective editor.
Your hook should be a one-line sales pitch that encapsulates the essence of your story and ‘hooks’ any potential editors, agents, picture book buyers and picture book readers.
If your story has a strong hook, then the editor will know right away how to pitch the story and won’t be left thinking, “nice story, but so what . . . ?” He or she will immediately know why and how your story is DIFFERENT from everything else that is out there in the marketplace.
This is what the publisher and sales people will be asking them in turn. It’s not enough for the editor to love a book – it has to sell!
Show your prospective editor or agent that you’ve done your research!
- get their right name and make sure it’s spelt correctly.
- if you like books or authors on their list say so! It shows that you think their house or agency would make a good home for your stories.
Don’t forget to mention any other work you may have had published or any awards you might have won.
Here's an example of a BAD COVER LETTER!
|click to enlarge!|
If you've made some of these mistakes, don't worry: take a deep breath, take note and you can do better next time!
Here's an example of a GOOD COVER LETTER!
|click to enlarge!|
Look out for tips on what to submit if you’re an illustrator in next month's blog post on submitting picture books professionally.
Natascha Biebow is editor, mentor and coach at www.blueelephantstoryshaping.com
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