Happy NaNoWriMo to all you writers out there! We admire all of you who are making goals to write books in November. To go along with NaNoWriMo, this blog post offers some tips for after you finish your book and are looking to submit it to a publisher. As an editor for a small educational children’s publisher, I’ve put together a list of some of the common errors that make me more likely to pass on a submitted manuscript. Hopefully if you are reading this, you can avoid these things and give your manuscript a better chance at landing a book deal.
Failing to edit your manuscript
I am sure you have heard many times that editing your manuscript is important. I am going to take that one step further and say that you should not only edit your manuscript, but you should have other people edit your manuscript. The difficulty in editing is that when you are too close to a text, your eyes miss things. Send your book through many friends, and perhaps even a professional editor, before you send it off. One typo is not going to ruin you, but when I see a manuscript with multiple errors, I am much less likely to want to keep reading.
Not doing your research about what the publisher publishes
We publish educational children’s books, but every publisher is different. Each publisher not only has genres and age groups that they publish in, but each publisher usually has specific areas and interests even without those genres and age groups. Do your research. Read other books that have been published by the publisher. If you are writing a picture book, do not send your manuscript to a publisher who only publishes adult poetry. Know your stuff.
Creating a preachy story
Subtlety is difficult to master when it comes to putting morals and lessons into stories. It takes a great writer to create a story about a difficult, perhaps politicized, topic without making readers feel like an agenda is being thrown at them. The best policy is to take the moral or lesson out of the story. Instead of writing a story that preaches the importance of girls in the sciences, just write a story about a determined girl who loves science and uses it. Relatable, round characters and an engaging plot are much more critical to your story than making sure you put in a moral.
Sending it through the wrong channels
Check whether the publisher prefers email submissions or mail submissions. We prefer email submissions, but every publisher is different. Sending your manuscript through the wrong channel can immediately make a publisher think that you have done your research.
Submitting a picture book without illustrations
This is quite specific to ThunderStone Books, but if you want more information on the debate about whether or not to submit a picture book with illustrations, look for it in one of our coming blog posts. Just know that if you are submitting a picture book to us, we rarely accept picture books that are not submitted with illustrations.
Good luck on submitting your book!