Submissions 101 – Research

You’re ready to submit your work. Hooray! This should be quick.

Ha ha! Submitting your work can take a lot longer than you think it should. It’s a big job whether you’re a writer of children’s literature or novels for adults, a writer of nonfiction, or an illustrator. You spent a long time getting your work ready. Don’t waste those hours and hours of creating, critiquing, editing, and polishing by haphazardly sending your work out to everyone that is open to submissions and even those who aren’t.

It’s easy to get antsy when you think you’re finished and want to get your work out there and get it published. Being impatient is one of the best ways to bite yourself in the butt. I’m here to tell you, you will be waiting. Waiting to hear back on submissions for months. Waiting if there is interest in your book. If you sell your book you could be spending lots of time working with your editor revising to get the manuscript just right. You could be waiting until the publisher is ready to be able to talk about your book sale. You will be waiting for your book to be ready to be released. Yes, push yourself to do great things but also remember that doing things the right way can take a lot of time.

It’s your work and your potential book and career. You have to be the first to make good choices for your work and yourself. How? Research, of course! If you want to submit your work well, it’s the most time consuming thing you will probably do besides writing your manuscript or creating your illustrations. But it has to be done! You don’t want to waste your time sending to places that don’t even work in your genre. Submitting your work correctly puts you ahead of so many of the submissions in the slush pile. Unfortunately, a lot people don’t do their research. But not you, you’re a Sub It Clubber!

Even if you have an idea of who you want to submit to you still should look into them and learn about them. You are asking this person to work with you on something that means a lot to you, right? Why would you do that without knowing as much as you can about them? Plus research will help you with other aspects of submitting like comparables, personalizing, and finding other places to submit your work.

How to research? Here are some great places that will help you delve deeper into the people and places you might want to submit your work to:

  • Read in your genre–a lot. This will not only help you get to know publishers and they types of books they publish, it helps you see where your book might fit. You can also look up authors or illustrators to learn which agent represents them.
  • Market Books – Writer’s Market has a number of category specific market books. Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents is a good resource as well. This is a great place to find those agents and editors you want to look into further online.
  • Internet search – put in the name of the person or publisher you are thinking of submitting your work to. Add in keywords like agent, interview, submission guidelines, etc. and see what comes up. Many times you can find a lot!
  • #MSWL – The Manuscript Wish List website gathers all of the tweets that have used the #MSWL hashtag and puts them into a great comprehensive site. Manuscript Wish List is the place to find out what people in publishing are looking for right now. You can search by category, agent, editor, and publisher. This is a great resource!
  • Blogs – Many agents and agencies have blogs as well as some publishing houses and editors. Do an internet search using the name of the person/place you are interested in along with “blog” and see if you find anything. You could try the word agent or editor along with genres and categories too if you’re not looking for one person in particular.  Blogs are the place to find a variety of in depth info straight from the source.
  • Publisher’s Marketplace – Many agents and editors are Publisher’s Marketplace members and have listings where you can learn a lot. These listing can include books they are associated with, genres and specialties, trade references, leading clients, best known projects, recent sales, and more. They may also have other useful information listed such as their blog and social media links and submission guidelines. Some Publisher’s Marketplace information is members only but agent and editor pages are viewable. Another great place to get information straight from the source.
  • Query Tracker – You have to join to get the most out of this site but the free tools they have are outstanding. You can search both agents and publishers by genre, find links, clients, and who is open to submissions. Plus you can keep track of your submissions there. Bonus!
  • Twitter – there are so many agents, agencies, editors, and publishers on Twitter. Some give advice to writers, some information on what they are looking for, others keep their feed focused on books but whatever they do you can learn tastes from reading their feed. If you don’t have a Twitter account (you should get one!) you can simply do an internet search for the name of the person or company you’re looking for along with “Twitter” to see what they have. (We tweet all sorts of great agent info on our @subitclub Twitter feed.)
  • Linkedin— I used to use Linkedin a lot for research. It was especially good for learning about editors who can be hard to find any information on but they have changed their settings and it isn’t as useful as it used to be. But, depending on who your connections are and who they’re connected to you can sometimes find some good information on people’s backgrounds.
  • Agency and publisher websites – Of course! Always look these up when you are submitting to a specific place. This is where you should find the most current submission guidelines.

Do you have some other favorite places to research? Share them in the comments!

There are lots of pieces to submitting your work. I’ll be adding more Submissions 101 posts. Next up — deciding whether to submit your work to agents or publishers.

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