You’ve written your romance novel and are ready to start submitting it to publishers. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for, and perhaps dreading a bit. Where do you get started? Whom do you send your manuscript to and how do you send it? While each publisher has their own processes and procedures, follow these three steps to submit your romance manuscript to publishers and you’ll be one-step closer to making a living writing romance!
Step One: Research publishers. When you’re getting ready to submit your manuscript for publication, you’ll want to first research publishers to find out which one is right for you. You’ll be looking for a few key things in the beginning:
- Do they publish romance?
- Do they publish your sub-genre? For example, they may publish romance but not your sub-genre of historical romance or paranormal romance.
- Do they accept manuscripts from non-agented writers?
- Are they a print publisher, electronic or both?
- Do they accept manuscripts in your word count range? For example some publishers only publish 80,000 word romances while others insist the romance be over 100,000 words
- Do they publish new authors (hint, if they accept unagented manuscripts the answer to this one is probably yes.)
- Where are they located? It used to be that if an agency wasn’t in NY then forget about it, however the internet has changed the market in many ways and publishers are now all over the country/world and some digital publishers have little more than a PO Box.
After you’ve conducted this research, you’ll likely have 10-20 potential publishers to submit your romance manuscript to. Take this list of potential publishers and prioritize them. At the top of your list will be your ideal publishers and at the bottom will be those who you’d be happy to have publish your book but aren’t your dream publishers.
A good place to begin researching, and perhaps the most comprehensive, is the Writer’s Market annual publication of Book Publishers. You can grab last year’s copy at your local library or pick it up at your bookstore for about $50 for the deluxe addition which also contains magazines, agents and a wealth of how to content written by industry experts.
Step #2 Read the submission requirements of the publisher at the top of your list. Look for how many chapters they wish to receive, how they want the manuscript formatted, how long of a synopsis they want (some only want one page while others want longer) and how to submit. Standard submissions are 1-inch margins, times new roman font 12-point double-spaced, first three chapters, and a one page synopsis. Along with your query letter, putting together your submission package can be quite a process.
You’ll also want to read if they want to read your manuscript exclusively or if it’s okay that you send to multiple publishers.
You’ll also want to determine whom you’re supposed to send your manuscript to. Most often, this information can be found at the publisher’s website however, you can also check romance industry news at the Romance Writer’s Association website in addition to a variety of other romance writing and industry resources. When in doubt, call the publisher and ask who to send your submission to. It’s important to get your manuscript into the right hands and “Dear Editor” doesn’t do it.
Finally, find out if they want a paper submission or if they accept email/digital submissions. Digital submissions are of course preferable because you don’t have to pay for printing/mailing and you’ll generally receive a confirmation they received your submission much sooner which means you won’t do the “I don’t know if they received my package maybe I should call them and check” mind game. Publishers hate it when you call, or email, to check on the status of your submission.
Step #3 Prepare your submission package. This will include a well-crafted query, your manuscript chapters which are polished to perfection, and your synopsis. Before you click send or drop your package in the mail remember, if you’re mailing your submission, to include a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) so you can receive a response.
Additionally, and this may sound tedious, but create a system to track your submissions. It can be as simple as an excel spreadsheet or a notebook but write down who you sent your manuscript to, when you sent it and what you sent. This will come in handy in the future when you’re sending multiple manuscripts to multiple agents and publishers.
And when you’re rich and famous, and making a living writing romance, you can look back at who treated you well and who didn’t. Editors move around from house to house so it can be immensely profitable to track your professional communications. If you can create
a binder to organize your submission then it also gives you a great place to store the letters (ahem…rejections, yes there will be rejections. It’s part of the process and not everyone will be able to see the money making potential of your romance novel.) from publishers and agents too.
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