Little Things You Should Know: Follow the Rules

Posted by Rita Lorraine

Hi Aspiring Writers,

Are you thinking the publishing business is a battlefield? Well, it is…in a way. Evenso, you can’t start a relationship with a publisher, editor or agent by being pushy and ignoring the rules. Whatever you do, do it carefully and nicely. Don’t offend, and don’t be a bully; neither will get you anywhere. It’s all about following the rules!

Read on for tips to keep yourself in check.


Publishing is a battlefield, but don't come out shooting!  Be polite...and follow the rules.

Publishing is a battlefield, but don't come out shooting! Be polite...and follow the rules.

This article supposes (for the sake of supposing) that you already know all there is to know about the craft of writing, and you’re ready to submit a manuscript for consideration.

That being supposed, let’s get straight to it! Here we go:

1. There is no shortcut to getting your book published, so don’t bother looking for one.

2. Follow the editor/agent/publisher’s guidelines. You’ll save yourself a lot of grief (and postage) if you do.

3. Be sure to state your title, genre and word count in your cover letter. Don’t let editors, agents or publishers have to guess who you are…because chances are, they won’t. They’ll just toss your manuscript out like yesterday’s trash.

4. Tell ‘em who you are, would you? This means, please, please, pleeeease, put your name in your email or cover letter. If your email is your name, the editor won’t have a problem figuring out who you are. But if your email is, chances are, the only thing they’ll be able to figure out is, you’re probably big-boned. And a bit of a diva. Not good!

5. Add a header or footer to your manuscript with your first and last name, to make it easier for editors/agents/publishers to identify your work.

6. Number your pages—especially if you’re sending a 6,000 page manuscript. Just think of the agony the recipient will feel if they drop your anvil-like manuscript by mistake, only to discover you didn’t number the pages! Not only will he/she squeal like a stuck pig, your manuscript will probably be promptly tossed into the nearest trash receptacle.

7. Offer a brief bio, including professional organizations and writing credits. Publishers want to know who you are, what you’ve written, and how you’re qualified.

8. Don’t attach anything unless invited. Period. Because if you do, your email will probably end up in the recipient’s spam filter. I know this is a hassle, because if you’re submitting several pages, it’s often next-to-impossible to include those pages within the body of an email without the formatting going haywire. My suggestion is, if you are submitting a multi-page file, write the recipient first and ask if it’s okay to send the file as an attachment. They usually permit it, as long as they know it’s coming.

Follow the guidelines, Play nice, Rita Writes History

Play nice and follow the rules if you want good things to happen.

9. Submit one query at a time. Please don’t try to dazzle publishers with your talent. Just focus on submitting one manuscript. If the agency (or publisher) has indicated that they accept multiple submissions, be sure to submit your next manuscript or idea under separate email or cover.

10. Submit to only one agent or editor! This means, don’t casually submit your work to every agent in an agency. This is a lot like a child who asks his mama for permission to do something, then asks his daddy after his mama turns him down. Mama’s and daddies don’t like it, and editors/agents/publishers don’t, either! Choose the best agent or editor for you, then submit to that person.

11. Don’t follow up tomorrow. Give it some time. This means, don’t send out a manuscript, then follow up the very next day…or week, to see what’s taking so long. If the agency said to give them four weeks to respond, doggone-it, give them four weeks!

12. No one’s going to change their rules and procedures for you. Writing is a business, so be business-savvy.

I hope these tips have helped you. Remember, editors/agents/publishers are busy people, so don’t make their jobs any harder than they already are.

Until next time, best wishes and happy writing!

Rita Lorraine

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1 Comment

  • Rita,
    This is great.
    Its really yet another bundle of info/tips/suggestions for the benefit of the writers. Great going more to read. good to meet you. PV

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