The first step in submitting electronically is to KNOW WHAT THE AGENT or EDITOR WANTS.
Read each specific editor or agent’s guidelines to see whether to send a query only, query with sample pages, query with synopsis and sample pages, and for the latter two, how many pages. Usually, you’ll be pasting into an email or form versus using attachments.
Verify the email address the information should be sent to or whether they use querytracker.net, querymanager.com, or a form on their own website.
Next, PREPARE for PASTING the REQUESTED INFORMATION into the body of an email or into a form. A form will have separate boxes for different info. In email, it will all go into the body of an email. You can easily separate your query letter from synopsis and synopsis from manuscript by using returns (enters) and ten or more dashes.
- Write your query letter in Word and save it.
- Ditto with your synopsis, if required. Some agents or editors will specify how many pages of a synopsis they want. Others won’t. It’s good to have several versions, such as one page and three pages.
- Go to your manuscript and copy the number of pages requested and paste into a new document. Make sure you end your last page on a full line. It’s better to be short than have a partial line. (Of course, you are using standard manuscript format.) I like saving different length page samples with the number of pages in the title-it makes for future ease of use.
Third, open your email or the form. As appropriate, copy your letter, manuscript pages, and synopsis one at a time and paste into the form or email. Remember, for email dashes and a blank line are good separators.
Don’t stress if your pasted in manuscript loses centering for title and chapters. It won’t look perfect. However, I’ve found both yahoo and gmail work fairly well. If in doubt as to how your email will look when sent, you can always send a sample to a friend as a test although it still may not match exactly what the agency or publishing house receives unless your friend uses the same mail service.
In email, type an appropriate subject. E.g. Query – Red River, Query SCBWI Oregon Conference, etc. Use whatever the agent or editor has requested. If they don’t specify, putting the word Query and type of submission is helpful. It doesn’t hurt to put your manuscript title.
Lastly, double-check that all your information, including the subject line looks all right. Or for a form that you have filled in all the boxes.
When you are ready to go, enter in the TO: email address for email and send. For forms, choose “submit.” (Multiple page forms might have “continue” before you can submit.
SUBMITTING a QUERY with an ATTACHMENT
In the rare case, you may be able to send an attachment. Usually a Word document is requested. Your most recent or your current version of Word is fine. MAC users, never send a Pages document unless it is requested.
If someone requests a PDF, but you can’t print to PDF or don’t have a PDF maker, download PrimoPDF. It’s free and easy to use.
If you have questions, feel free to put them in the comments.
Nathan Bransford, former agent, author says in How to Format an Email Query: “Note that I did not begin with the recipient’s address or my address or the date, as that is not customary for an e-mail.”
How to Format an Email Query for Literary Agents – Seven Tips says: “…so start your subject line with the word ‘Query.’ . . . After the word query, list your book title and genre or category.”
Most writers don’t start out thinking they’re going to need technical skills beyond maybe a word processor and email, but in this world of social media and digital submissions, writers either need to learn technical skills or get help.
I’m of a technical mindset and have more technical skills than many writers of my generation, but still I get help. My husband and my daughter have both helped me with website and computer issues. A writer friend taught me how to use twitter and tweetdeck. Please don’t be too chicken to ask for help yourself.
Here’s some things I’ve found many writers don’t know:
How to keep computer files organized. I’ve seen many writers with every file saved on the desktop or in the first level of documents and they have trouble finding what they are looking for. I’ve showed them folders and how you can put folders within folders. Normally each of my projects has its own folder. Here’s how I helped another writer with this issue in this post. It includes some tips on naming documents, too.
How to back up files. When their computer hard drive dies, writers have lost all of their work. Even when you have a crash, you can lose hours of work on your wip. Don’t let this be you. Find out how to preserve copies successfully. The latter portion of this blog post mentions some methods.
How to do an electronic submission, especially when pasting in material. When I was sharing on the topic with a group, one person said that the best tip she got was “don’t enter the to person’s email until you are sure you are ready to send.” This means you can’t accidentally send an unfinished submission. I’ll write up some more details for a future blog post.
How to resize a picture. A writer (or illustrator) needs to submit an illustration, a cover, a headshot and have a large file, but has been requested for something smaller. I wrote this post to specifically help with this problem. I find people often don’t know how to rename the picture with something meaningful either–it’s okay to name it what it is.
How to keep email organized. Some writers keep everything all in the inbox, which makes for an overwhelming number of emails. Folders to save important emails by topic or event or date can be helpful. Or you can have a folder for critiques or projects. Many email programs allow you to set up filters to sort incoming email automatically into folders as well. You might want to do that for newsletters you like to read. As hard as it may be to believe, one gal didn’t realize she could just delete emails she’d read and didn’t need.
New writers often don’t know about standard manuscript format. This is the way editors and agents will want to see manuscript submissions. Follow this link for details.
New to computer users don’t know about Word’s tables or Excel’s spreadsheets. Either can be helpful in keeping track of submissions, agents, chapter summaries, finances, etc. (Although I prefer the latter for finances.)
Sometimes we aren’t even aware we need help. We don’t know there’s a better or easier way. Many years ago I complained about how awkward something was in Word. My husband showed me tables. Wow, it made what I was doing so easy. Since, I’ve used it for forms many times.
So if something isn’t working well for you, ask others, “Is there a better way?” Or search online for “How do I ________?”–there are tutorials, youtube videos, etc. that explain so much. For example, I’ve learned more about html that way.
What have you gotten help with? What do you wish you could get help with?
Comments are welcome.