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Agents and editors speak: What you should know about submitting your manuscript, part 1

You have written a draft, revised, edited, revised some more. Now you’re finally ready to query an editor or agent. Do you want to improve your chances?

Here is what you should know based on feedback from editors and agents at the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association Conference July 19-22.

Follow the instructions on their websites. You would be surprised at how many people don’t follow the submission guidelines, some going as far as using odd colors and funky typefaces. Do you want to stand out? Submit polished writing and format and send your manuscript according to their instructions.

Revise and revise again. Speaking of polished writing, if you’re writing a memoir, don’t submit a collection of scenes about your life. A memoir should read like a novel with a narrative arc: beginning, middle, and end. Whether you’re writing a memoir or novel, stay on theme. Each scene should relate to the theme and have a reason for being.

Have a hook. It’s the cold hard truth: agents and editors ultimately have to see how they will be able to position and sell your book. You have to have a clear hook that leads to a target audience of book buyers.

Know your competition. What are the other books in your category? Agents want to know. You should not just know who they are, but read them and be prepared to say how your book is different.

Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll share four more tips from agents and editors for getting your work noticed.

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