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Editor's Notes #28, October 31, 2005 -- Traditional Publishing: How to Submit
October 31, 2005

""You don't write because you want to say something;
you write because you've got something to say."

--author unknown

In this issue:

1. Traditional Publishing: How to Submit

Traditional Publishing -- How To Submit
Ever wanted to talk directly to a publisher to pitch your book?

I went to a writers' conference to do just that.

Howard White, owner of Harbour Publishing, who has been getting writers into print for 30 years spoke to a room full of writers about the state of the hard copy publishing industry. Good news! In Canada, at least, the book publishing industry holds it own in the face of e-publishing.

Howard freely shared what he wants to see as a publisher. I thought the least I could do is pass this hot-off-the-press information on to the rest of you.

Very few books are contracted if they arrived "over the transom," Over the transom is publishing talk for "by mail." The term comes from the time when authors tossed manuscript packages through the transom, a window above the publishers door.

Most books that make it to the shelves do so through some personal contact. My move to attend Howard's workshop in order to pitch my book was bang on.

  1. If at all possible, meet the acquisitions editor in person. These people attend workshops and conferences. Be there with your package.
  2. In a one-page letter, explain why your book deserves to be published. What will it do for the publisher? Why are you the right person to write it?
  3. Provide an outline of your book. This will show that you understand how a book is structured.
  4. Submit 10-25 pages of your very best writing. These do not have to be consecutive pages. They may come from different sections of the book. They must showcase your best writing.
  5. Include a reply card saying,
    "Yes, please send me the manuscript,"
    OR "We no not need your book at this time."
    This is not essential as most publishers have their own forms.
  6. Wait no more than 6 weeks for a reply. Then contact the publisher to be sure they have your material.
Whether you meet the publisher in person or not, provide the information listed above to get the best reaction.

Since I had a great photo that I want to include in my book, I also included a full-sized copy with the package I handed to Howard.

I have loads more information from the workshop that I'll share in future issues.

In the mean time, if you have a project that you want a traditional publisher to consider, I'd love to help you polish those crucial 10-25 pages. They would be prime candidates for an educative edit.


If you have a topic you want me to cover in a future issue, hit the reply button and let me know.
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