What Do Acquisition Editors Look For in a Submission?

  1. How does your title fit the submission guidelines? If a publisher is looking for only YA dystopian books and yours is adult contemporary, then it’s likely they won’t even read the rest of your submission. Submitting the correct genre and adhering to the publisher’s interests is step one in being a contender for publication.
  2. What does your literary experience look like? Publishers don’t need to see a resume’s worth of information in a submission, but they do want to know a little about your history. Any literary experience—previous publications, a relevant job, other writing experience, etc.—is especially imperative towards showing your skills.
  3. What’s your social media presence like? This is a big one in current culture. While it might not be necessary to have a huge following on Instagram or TikTok to get a book deal, it is important to show that you have the means and willingness to connect with your audience online. Listing out all of the platforms you are active on and the number of followers you have for each, as well as any website or blog traffic you have, will make your proposal more viable and relevant.
  4. Did you create a market analysis of similar titles? Publishers want to know why they should publish your book instead of somebody else’s, so showing comparative titles and how yours relates to what has already been published is key information for any publisher. Is there already a big market for your book or is there a gap that your title plans to fill?
  5. What is your overall marketing plan for your book? Being able to write a good book is barely half the battle—showing that you are dedicated towards selling your title it is just as important. Do you have any professional connections or local businesses that you know will support your title once it’s published? How do you plan to utilize your online platform to sell your book? Publishers want to know that the time and money they put into potentially publishing your title will be successful and profitable for you AND them.

Preparing Your Manuscript for an Editor

1. When your manuscript is written and edited to the best of your ability (have you checked for grammatical inconsistencies? Did you read it out loud to yourself?), make sure it is as clean as possible to send to your editor. This means making sure the font is the same throughout (Times New Roman and Arial are standard), the margins are consistent, there are no strangely placed images or text boxes and so on. This will make it a whole lot easier for your editor to insert comments and changes, and thus easier for you to communicate and work together in the long run.

2. If you have any particular stylistic choices that are common throughout your manuscript (a certain spelling, handling of a phrase or such), make your editor aware of them. Editors will use the style guideline associated with whatever you or the publisher have specified, but certain decisions on your end are acceptable and the editor should be made aware of them so as not to interfere with an important stylistic choice in your text.

3. Send your manuscript as one Word document (unless otherwise specified). Providing the text sections at a time might be okay if you have set deadlines, but sending the text as one document is usually standard practice. Pay attention to any specific sending instructions from your editor (via email? A file-sharing service?) or ask if they haven’t clarified.

4. Working with an editor is more of a conversation than anything, so be prepared to accept and respond to their comments and queries. Depending on the type of edit you are receiving, there may be more involved changes that they are suggesting, so be ready to consider their edits and have a thoughtful conversation. Editors want to see your book succeed as much as you do!

5. Expect more than one round of edits to your manuscript. After your first draft comes back from the editor, there will likely be numerous changes for you to consider and rewrites to proceed with. Then get ready for the cycle again!

Ten Tips for Submitting Material to Publishers

  1. Regardless of how you found the company to which you are submitting, check their website before submitting anything. This will give you a general vibe for the sorts of material they publish along with important information about how to submit your proposal.
  2. Do some research beyond the scope of the publisher’s website. Look for any news articles or social media presence that could give you a better idea of the other sort of titles they’ve published and other up-to-date news about the company. This will also help you see if the publisher will be a good fit for your title.
  3. When submitting your proposal, make sure to pay careful attention to the submission guidelines. Many publishers will not even look at your proposal if you fail to follow their instructions; this is a red flag that you can’t follow directions. Including the pertinent requirements and contacting the right people is step one in a successful submission.
  4. Take time to craft your proposal to cater to the publisher. Making it known that you have looked through their catalog or done research about their company is impressive, and might give you that little leg up as an attractive candidate who cares about handing over their title to the right people.
  5. Try to find something about the publisher that you can connect with on a personal level. Perhaps you have visited or live where they are located or have come across their books in your local bookstore, or maybe you just identify with part of their mission statement. Making a connection helps to make your query more personal and less robotic.
  6. Make sure your proposal is engaging. Boring, dry emails will connote a boring, dry manuscript. It’s okay to add a little personality; that’s what will make you stand out.
  7. While it’s important to be personal and engaging in your query, make sure to not add too much extraneous detail. Publishers like to hear a little about you, but they don’t need your entire life story. Similarly, make sure you are following the guidelines: if the publisher has asked for a five-page sample, do not send your entire manuscript.
  8. Don’t clutter your submission with fancy text, vibrant colors or large images. It might stand out visually, but not always in a good way. Keep it simple and legible.
  9. Proofread your query before sending it. Remember that this is your first introduction of yourself and your title, so it’s important to not have too many visible errors in your submission.
  10. Many publishers will note, either on their website or in an email receipt, how long it usually takes to respond to queries. Pay attention to this and avoid reaching out until said timeline has passed if you can help it. Great care is taken when selecting manuscripts to publish, and while it’s easy to feel antsy, patience is key.

Need more help? Schedule a free consultation call to ask how we can help with your editorial or book design needs!

Editorial support and book production services

Credentials:

Owned and operated by Jennifer Baum, publisher of Scribe Publishing Company, an award-winning traditional book publisher.

Let Jennifer’s twenty years of publishing + marketing experience guide your next project. See her experience on LinkedIn or read her bio on the Scribe Publishing Company site.

Process:

From concept to completion, we can manage every aspect of your book production. We have relationships with printers in the U.S. and abroad, so depending on your timeline and budget, we’ll find the right fit for you and take care of all the details.

Please email Jennifer to get started.

Our Process

While every project is different, here’s a general idea of the steps we’ll take to get a book in your hands:

  • Initial conversation to understand goals, budget, and whether you need us to write the copy and secure photography (if needed) or you’ll do that in house
  • Timeline and deadlines agreed upon
  • Proposal submitted and contract signed (35% payment due)
  • Design concepts presented, refined and approved
  • Final text edited and proofed
  • Photographer hired, if necessary
  • Design and review (final payment due)
  • Printing (we have a network of printers we work with in the U.S. and around the world, and one will be the right fit for your goals and budget)

Watch a time-lapse video of one of our books being designed by Lead Designer Miguel Camacho: