Suggestions you can use for your writing or manuscript submissions.
Read Submission Guidelines
When it comes to queries, it is a fact of a writer’s life that every agent and publisher will want you to send them something different. Some want a letter only. Some want the first three pages; some want 10. Others want three chapters or a 500-word summary. How do you figure out what they want? Check their submission guidelines on their websites. Everyone has them and they’re usually easy to find. And be sure to send ONLY what they ask for, nothing more. Don’t think if they say they want three pages that they won’t mind 10. In fact, they will probably reject your query because you didn’t follow their guidelines. Give them what they ask for, and hopefully soon you’ll get an email asking you to see more!
Make It High-Concept
Agents and editors are most interested in what they call high-concept fiction. This is somewhat hard to define, but generally it means a fresh, inventive idea that can generate enthusiasm even before you read it. Ally Carter’s I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You tells you everything you need to know with its title: it’s romance and a spy thriller all in one. High-concept books deal in high stakes, appeal to a wide audience, value action and plot over introspection, and will set a whole new trend. The “quiet” books deal with more internal conflict than plot and need to be literary in order to make it in the market that right now values the “louder” high-concept books. Read any of the popular books out there that have titles that sound like they can easily be made into a movie to learn more about what I mean.
Literary agents and editors receive hundreds of queries from writers each week. That’s a lot of proposals to weed through to find their next project they hope to sign. So they have adopted some short cuts to weed out those writers they probably won’t want to work with because the writer is too inexperienced. For instance, one of the signs that an author might not have a strong manuscript to pitch is any query letter that includes the lines: “I've quit my day job to be a writer,” “My entire family loves my book so you should too,” or “Please just give me a chance.” What’s wrong with these phrases? No one should quit their day job until they have a publishing deal they can live on for years. Your family has to love what you write. More important is that the paying reader will want to buy it, and before that, that the editor or agent falls in love with your work. And you should never beg. Just sell your writing by concentrating on crafting the best story you can.
If you’re looking for an agent for your manuscript, one of the first places to check is the acknowledgment page of your favorite author, since authors usually thank their agents (always wise to do so). While it’s not a guarantee that because that agent represents your favorite YA dystopian author they’ll represent your YA dystopian novel, it does mean at the very least that they might consider your genre. And that is an important first entrée.