Giving encouragement

Editors are simply too busy to write personally to everyone who sends them a manuscript but if your work shows promise, some will take the time to scribble a few brief words of encouragement.

Some have two standard letters, one an outright rejection, the other rejecting the piece but asking to see anything else you write. If you receive the second type, send something else off without delay - your toe is in the door.

Occasionally, an editor will phone you, either to accept the piece or ask if you can alter it slightly. If you want to see your work in print, agree to any changes they suggest. You may not like amending your work but it will be worth it in the long run.

It is no good expecting busy editors to teach you your craft. It is up to you to develop the ability to assess your own work and approach the right market, so before you submit a manuscript:

♦ research the market thoroughly to establish the publishers likely to be interested in your manuscript

♦ find out if the editor prefers initial approaches to be in the form of enquiry letters or is prepared to consider completed manuscripts

♦ establish the name of the person to whom you should address your manuscript

♦ allow six to eight weeks before you write a chase-up letter (Figure 11)

♦ take any editorial advice you are offered and act on it. Multiple submissions

Until recently, sending your manuscript simultaneously to more than one publisher was frowned upon by the industry.

Now, however, publishers recognise that having to wait months for an answer can be frustrating and are prepared to tolerate authors making multiple submissions providing this is stated in the covering letter.

Looking at it from the publishers' point of view, by submitting your manuscript to them, you are offering it for sale. If, when they agree to buy it, you tell them you've just sold it to someone else, they will be justifiably annoyed that you have wasted their time. This is not a good way to win friends in the publishing industry.

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