How To: Avoid Being an Amateur Writer

atmackenzie Jul 28, 2008 Business
Do you dream of being a professional author? Do you wish you could find a break and get published? There are thousands of other writers that wish the same thing but many of them make simple mistakes that can be avoided. Follow these tips to have your submission read and considered, not thrown out with the garbage.

Do you dream of being a professional author?  Do you wish you could find a break and get published?  There are thousands of other writers that wish the same thing but many of them make simple mistakes that can be avoided.  Follow these tips to have your submission read and considered, not thrown out with the garbage.

When submitting something to an agent or editor for appraisal, always address them by name.  Don't address it as "To Whom It May Concern" or "Dear Mr. Agent".  Do your research and use their name directly and appropriately.

Always submit your work double-spaced.  This allows room for an editor to make notes and it is also easier to read.  Use a standard font like Times New Roman and a 12-point size.  Make sure to spell check your work and make sure your grammar is proper.  You may think that is the editor's job, but it isn't, and a submission with poor spelling and grammar probably won't be read past the first page. 

When sending in a submission, always include return postage or a SASE, especially if they ask for it.  This makes it much easier for them to send you return correspondence.  When you print your work out, use a new ink cartridge.  This will ensure that it prints properly and vibrantly.  You don't want to submit faded, gray words on a page.  Make sure to have your name and contact information on your cover letter, and your name on each of the pages in case some of them get misplaced in the piles of paper on an editor's desk, and don't forget to number your pages as well.  Also, make sure you include a word count of your entire submission.  This is important, especially when an agent or editor considers what type of publication it could be.  Most novels are at least 50,000 words. 

It isn't good etiquette to send your submission to many different editors or agents at once.  Though you may want to get your work out there, giving one at a time an exclusive look at your work is respectful.  You never know, the very first one might love it, and you don't want to play several editors against each other for your work.  It may turn out in the end that none of them will take it if you do this.

Remember to always check the submission guidelines.  Some agents and editors only want certain types of submissions and if one doesn't want any mystery-suspense, you don't want to send them mystery-suspense.  The guidelines also have useful information about how the editors or agents want your submissions delivered.  Some prefer to have email submissions, while others may strictly want only mailed submissions with a detailed cover or query letter.  Some want return postage and others don't, so always remember to read exactly what they want.  Not following the guidelines they put out will land your submission in the garbage can even faster.

Finally, don't be discouraged.  The average editor or agent can get thousands of submissions from writers every week, so it takes time to get through everything and get a reply back to you.  Also, don't give up after you get your first rejection letter.  Not many writers get automatic publication the first time they send their work out.  Most of the New York Times Bestselling authors were rejected hundreds of times before someone finally thought their work was great, so never give up.  Follow these tips and you could very well be on the right path to publication. 

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  • Last Updated : Jul 28, 2008