What Editors Want

SubmissionFriday, I posted a humorous Youtube video on how not to approach an editor.  The sad thing is that this does happen.  Okay, maybe not a woman stalking a male editor in the restroom but writers do approach editors in the restroom.  Here’s a hint:  Not a great way to make a good impression.  But there are things that you can do that will make a good impression.

  1. Know What They Publish.  One of the best ways to rise above the slush is to know both what this publisher publishes but also what this editor wants.  A publisher who wants nature nonfiction, won’t want a novel even if it takes place in the great outdoors.  There is also a matter of knowing which editor loves historical fiction and which one wants stories for boys.  Google to the rescue.  Google your target editor and read all of the interviews and market listings you can find.
  2. Know the Conventions.  You’ve found a publisher who takes fantasy picture books, now make sure your manuscript falls within expected norms.  You need to know what makes a manuscript a picture book manuscript.  Read picture books.  Read how-tos.  Find information on length, vocabulary and audience.  Then make certain your work meets these standards.  If you send a publisher a 15 page picture book manuscript, it is going to be rejected.
  3. Proof Your Work.  It sounds like a no brainer but apparently it is a step that a lot of people skip.  In reading publishers’ web sites and blogs, I’ve seen this mentioned more than once.  Proof.  If your work is riddled with errors, they aren’t going to buy it.  They probably won’t even read it.
  4. Know What Has Been Published.  If you want to write picture books or young adult novels, you need to be reading new picture books and young adult novels.  These are the books that are your story’s competition.  Is your story ready to stand against in the big boys?  If so, send it in.

Do your homework and give your work a fighting chance.  Editors want to find fantastic stories.  For some tips on approaching editors at writing events, see my post yesterday at the Muffin.