December 15, 2015

Keeping a Submission Log

Do you keep a log of your submissions?  I'm betting most writers do so.  But, I learned that some writers aren't interested in keeping records.  I was shocked.  How do writers keep track of their submissions if they are not written down or recorded?  

Keeping a submission log doesn’t have to be complicated.  A notebook or a word doc. will suffice.  List the title of your manuscript and the agents or publishers that you’ve contacted, their email addresses, and the date that you sent your submission.  You can format it anyway you like, even use color coding.  (I use orange for dates of submission, green for acceptances, and purple for rejections). 

Then in a few weeks, mark your submission to indicate if it’s been accepted and the date it will be published. You can even note the amount of payment.  If your submission was rejected, note that date, too.  When you have a record of your submissions, you will know when to follow-up if you haven’t heard back from an editor. And, with a complete list of your submissions you will be able to refer to it as you continue to submit new work.  

Keeping submission records is an important part of the writing life.  It's what writers do. Don't expect (or even ask) an editor will find your submissions.  She doesn't have the time and it’s not her job to keep track of submissions for you.  It’s your job to keep good records. 

December 1, 2015

Online Submission Forms

When it comes to submitting a children’s book manuscript, you can usually query an agent or a publisher by email.  A few publishers and agents however, have online forms that you must fill out.  Most of the time, the forms will only take a few minutes to complete.  But, some require more time and thought.  

This topic comes up because I found a publisher who requires writers to fill out an extensive online submission form.  The form consists of two parts:  an author section and a book section.  Both parts ask detailed questions.  Halfway through, I was ready to give up.  The clock was ticking away, my brain was getting numb, and I was beginning to think why bother.  Would my submission be taken seriously?  But, I continued to answer questions about hobbies, education, publications, awards, things that inspired me, and what makes a great book.  (This is just a sampling of the questions. There were many other questions that needed to be addressed).

Then, it was on to the book section.  Here, my manuscript had to be formatted as specifically described in the guidelines and uploaded.  Next, a description of the book had to be stated.  Then the hook, a quote from the book, a synopsis, and the intended audience were required.  Lastly, the publisher wanted to know why I chose to submit to them.  

All in all the entire process took a good part of an afternoon.  When I finally submitted my project and author profile, I felt proud to have completed the time-intensive form. Though there is no telling how successful my submission will be, the submission process forced me to think about my book in new ways:  how would the book be marketed, how do others feel about my book, and how strong is my platform?   

If you find a publisher that has an online form, try to read through the questionnaire before typing in answers. Judge how much time you’ll need to answer the complete form. Create thoughtful answers to the questions beforehand.  Then, don’t rush as you fill out the form.  Review your answers before you hit 'send.'  

Congratulate yourself when you’re finished.  You completed a submission form that few writers would have the patience or the time to tackle. Your dedication may pay off and you may have found a publisher who will be interested in your work.