The total beginner in that title is me, in case you were wondering. Until a few months ago, I had quite a bit of experience submitting poems to magazines and journals, and getting blogs and articles published online, but knew very little about how to get a novel published.
So if you, like me, are pretty new to all this, here are a few things I’ve learned about submitting a novel to an editor recently.
- It’s a lot like applying for a job
You wouldn’t send out your CV randomly to a hundred places at once (OK, OK, we’ve all done it occasionally, but we know it’s not the most successful route). The best job applications are carefully tailored to the employer. In the same way, pick out which publisher you’re going to approach. Learn about them, and be really clear about why you want them to publish you.
2. The question of agents isn’t as clear cut as it seems
I’ve read a number of websites that say you absolutely have to have an agent before you get started. And agents are really helpful, and definitely necessary if you’re approaching big publishing houses as an unknown writer. But I’ve spoken to editors who don’t require it – so check with the publishers you’re approaching.
3. Learn to write a synopsis
If you’ve been focused on honing your novel for a long time, there’s a new writing project for you here! There are some good websites out there to guide you through writing a synopsis for when you submit your novel. Try https://janefriedman.com/novel-synopsis/ or http://www.writersworkshop.co.uk/Synopsis.html to get you started. My top tips are a) check how long a synopsis your publisher wants before you start, and b) don’t fall into the trap of writing a back-cover blurb or a dull list of plot points. The synopsis needs to convey plot development and character arcs, detail conflict resolution and show off what’s great about your story.
This is really the tip of the iceberg. I’ve spent hours researching standard formatting styles (and shaking my fist at the memory of school teachers who taught me different rules) and reading long lists of genre types to try to understand the modern fiction market.
My final tip – when you’ve done all this and sent off your precious manuscript to be examined by an editor, do something to reward yourself! Break into a bar of chocolate or pour yourself a drink because you just hit a major milestone in your journey as a writer.
P.S. For more updates, follow me on Twitter @ClaireRWong