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Monday, 13 January 2014

Do’s and Don’ts of sending your Manuscript!

I recently got accepted as an Intern at this really badass publishing house. It’s my third day here and I am writing a blog post because in three days I’ve learnt things I’d like to share with budding writers and first time authors. My job here as an intern is to read manuscripts that have been sent to the Publishing House and then reject or accept them, depending how they are. I now know things that you absolutely need to know before you click on that send button. So, here they are the Do’s and Don’ts of sending your Manuscript!


Do’s

1)  Send a synopsis – Sometimes as authors you probably forget that you and only you have the story in your head. Editors have no idea what the story is about and if you don’t send them a synopsis, they will never know. Infact, they may reject your proposal simply based on the fact that they don’t understand where the story is going to end. So, don’t think that you’re going to impress the editor by keeping the story suspense. The truth is that there are no secrets with the Editor.
2)  Edit – Edit, edit and edit till you can’t and then edit some more. Make sure that your story starts with the story and is not a lengthy monologue about yourself or your character. Absolutely not. Since you are always required to send sample chapters, send chapters that tell a story. Editors have no interest in reading long character profiles that can easily be included later on.
3)  Check all spellings (especially in your email) – A lot of manuscripts arrive with long praises for the author only to spell the first word, even as simple as ‘Hello’ wrong.  Now, you can imagine that’s quite annoying considering that it is probably followed by a story of all your prowess and achievements.
4)  Correct all grammatical errors – It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a completely grammatical errors free document, because that is the Editors job. However, do make sure you have corrected all the basic errors like; making sure that your singular and plurals are all correct.
5) Be original – I once read a manuscript that had been copied word to word from a popular comedy film, including the title. Be original because even if editors enjoy reading, doesn’t mean that they don’t watch movies or listen to music; they are not generally unaware of the goings on in the world.
6) Have a story to tell – Probably the most important advice is that every story needs a beginning, middle and end so, make sure your story does too. It will not do to send your opinions or a sudden stroke of genius if it does not have a structure. You’re pinning false hope on nothing and moreover, wasting the editor’s time. So if you don’t know the
7) Have decent email ids – At school we’re told all the time to make proper email ids for college applications. It’s the same thing with your proposal! If you send a manuscript from the id ‘barneyrocks@email.com’, the editor will not be impressed. It will do you good to remember that editors are not your friends. They deserve every bit of respect and formality and it should be given.
8) Read all the requirements – Most publishing houses have their own websites where they post rules and advice to help you. They too post things that you should and should not do. Do read them and keep them in mind. If it says, do not send us enquiries then do not send them enquiries.
9) Make your manuscript presentable – If your story looks like the picture below, please don’t send it. Read rules Q to 8 and then start again. Include all the details and put it in a proper format. Don’t overuse exclamation marks (!) or ellipses (.)
Don’ts

  1. Write an email – Do not send an empty email because it’s rude. Even if it’s just four words, write them!
  1. Label the attached documents properly – There are hundreds of manuscript submissions so if I open your attachment, I should be able to find it later without a hitch. It doesn’t help if the document is labelled ‘Synopsis’. Be more specific – ‘Synopsis for Paradise (xyz)’


  1. Do not send multiple emails – Just because the ‘To’ row is first doesn’t mean you have to fill it in, in the beginning. Infact, leave it for the end so that you do not end up accidently sending an incomplete proposal. Sending multiple emails reduces the chance of your email being accepted simply because the editor may not realize that you have sent him a complete email. They may assume that you’re one of those people who keep pestering them about replies.


  1. DO NOT ASSUME the gender of the person reading your proposal – Unless you’re completely sure who is reading your mail, in which case address the email with their name – ‘Mr SoandSo’, in other cases do not address the email to ‘Dear SIR’. It is very irritating to receive emails from people who assume that I am a guy. Get your mind out of you’re a$$ and please notice that women work too.


  1. Do not be a ‘smarta$$’ – By this I mean, don’t do thigs that can earn you labels like ‘prat’, ‘smarta$$’, ‘prick’ etc. This means, don’t send 600 pages of references. Do not send praise for yourself. If you are not part of the story, then STAY OUT OF IT (focus on your characters) etc etc.


  1. Do not send the novel in the email itself – Just don’t.






And that’s it! The Do’s and Don’ts of sending your Manuscript. I do hope this helped you in determining what you need to do. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below, I’ll try to help you to the best of my capabilities.


Cheers!