Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Submission Etiquette 101

Etiquette is a policy or group of "rules" that help members of society or a group have a pleasant and working relationship. "Good manners" is another way to define etiquette.

"But," you say, "what does etiquette have to do with submitting manuscripts to agents, editors, or publishers?"

Ahh, when a writer (and/or an illustrator) submits his (or her) work, that person seeks to build a relationship, one that will result in his work becoming published. Therefore, a few "rules" should be followed to result in a successful relationship, not one that causes the agent/editor/publisher to reject the work and the submitter with extreme prejudice.

Oh, you didn't realize that word travels between agents, publishers, and/or editors about questionable behavior from submitters? Publishing isn't that large a community. Of course word spreads, good or bad.

Should you build a good relationship, even if your work might be or is rejected? Yes, you want to have a good relationship for at least two reasons: You might want to submit there again; or you want to submit with another house and want avoid a bad reputation.

Rules for good submission etiquette:


1. Research to be sure your work matches what the agency or publisher accepts. No matter how wonderful your submission may be, if it doesn't fit, it doesn't fit.

2. Be sure you understand the guidelines for submission and follow them exactly. No, the agent, editor, or publisher is not being petty to expect you to follow the guidelines. Most are looking for a reason to reject submissions. One that doesn't follow the guidelines is an easy rejection. Also someone who can't or won't follow the guidelines to submit will also be a problem. Yes, guidelines are a test you either pass, or you don't.

For example, if a publisher has 100 or more submissions that follow the guidelines, why would he want to dig through your work, after you don't follow the guidelines, to see IF your work might be worthwhile?

3. Do NOT argue with an editor, publisher, or agent who rejects your work. If you do, you are committing a big no-no. No matter how wonderful you think your work is, telling the "rejector" how wrong he is will not help you win. In fact you will blacken your name.

4. Finally, remember, you need the agent, publisher, or editor more than he or she needs you. Therefore, play nice.

Yes, more suggestions exist, but these are the big ones, the ones that immediately send a relationship into the realm of probability or of impossibility.



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22 comments:

Rena said...

Great post, Vivian. Thank you.

kathy stemke said...

Good advice. Thank you.

Katie Hines said...

Great article, Vivian. We only get one chance at a first impression, so it behooves us to make it a good one.

Janet Ann Collins said...

I agree 100%

Thanks for sharing the information.

Cher Green said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing.

Cher Green
Footsteps of a Writer

Margaret Fieland said...

One would hope that the information in this excellent post would be glaringly obvious to every submitter.

Peggy

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

I totally agree.

Beverly

Vivian Zabel said...

I notice that all comments are from people who do follow the guidelines and who don't argue even if they disagree with an agent, publisher, and/or editor. *laugh*

The Old Silly said...

Good advice here, Vivian. Got the post permalink bookmarked.

Marvin D Wilson

Susanne Drazic said...

Thank you for a great post Vivian!

KittyNadem said...

Definitely big no-no's there, Viv, these are the small things that EVERY author should know. Great post!

~ Heather Paye

Heidiwriter said...

Yes, absolutely. But also keep in mind, that when you are rejected it's not necessarily a comment on YOU or your writing. There are MANY circumstances that lead to rejection.

Heidi

Nancy Famolari said...

Good advice. Thanks, Vivian.

Vivian Zabel said...

I'm not discussing rejections per se, but the etiquette of the submitter, before and after.

Rejections is a whole other subject, but even IF rejected, for whatever reason, good manners require that the writer not attack or argue with the editor, agent, or publisher.

Sheila Deeth said...

Thanks. Short and sweet reminders.

Amber Stults said...

Very wise words. I have an editor friend who states in her guidelines she's female but still gets cover letters to Mr. - that's a clue to her right away the person didn't read the guidelines.

Vivian Zabel said...

I think I'm going to add a disclaimer to our guidelines that states: Following these guidelines is a test. Failing means an automatic rejection.

Dallas said...

Wonderful advice, Vivian! I think following your tips will greatly increase anyone's chance of acceptance.

Best,
Dallas
www.writeonbooks.org

Penny Ehrenkranz said...

Vivian, your advice is right on. If people expect to be published, they need to follow the rules, whether they like them or not. Thanks for sharing.

Vivian Zabel said...

Yes, glad most see the need for good manners for a good relationship between a writer and to whomever he submits work.

Saleema said...

Good post, Vivian. Thanks.

Dawn Embers said...

This is a great post indeed and also goes to contests on writing.com. I've known a few people who run contests and the responses they get to some people that didn't win are appalling. I can't even imagine arguing with a judge/editor/publisher/agent. It doesn't make sense to me. Yet, I know people do it.

Great topic.