If you consider yourself a professional writer--whether published or not--it
is expected that your manuscript reflect this professionalism. Most
writers are hoping to obtain a contract with a traditional trade publisher
who will bear all production costs, promote
the book, and pay the author a royalty of from 10 to 14 percent. And,
of course, there is the expected fat advance. Since less than one
percent of all manuscripts are going to be accepted by traditional
publishers, writers need to be prepared to face the reality of their work
being rejected. As an
editor of Guidepost once told me, the difference between professional
writers and non-professionals is how they handle rejection. Assuming
that you believe in your work, consider the rejection slip to be a
Hopefully, before submitting your manuscript to an agent or a publisher,
you have done your homework and followed their specific instructions or
guidelines. If not, you are wasting your time and theirs. By the
way it is just as difficult to find a reputable agent as it is to find a
reputable publisher. If you are targeting the big traditional
publisher, you will most definitely need an agent; however, if you are are
targeting smaller presses, an agent may not be necessary. You may wish
to purchase the Guide to Literary Agents or a current edition
of Writer's Market to find proper representation.
Writer's Market is available online and is a great investment for serious
Be aware of Common Mistakes Made by
Self-publishers or POD authors
If you haven't read the article
Publishing that has been
made available to you on this web site, do so now as it contains valuable
information that you need to understand.
With the ease of self-publishing and printing via POD, our reviewers see
mistakes that instantly label the book as one that has been produced by
someone unfamiliar with the publishing process. Or perhaps the
writing itself shows lack of talent, an uncertainty when it comes to
technical skills, or just plain carelessness. Please check
the following before you go to print:
1. Note the difference between a foreword and a preface. The
preface is written by the author; a foreword is written by someone other
than the author. Also note the spelling of the word foreword.
Over and over again, we see the word spelled forward. Wrong!
2. Do not have numbers on blank pages...no exceptions.
3. Make sure curly quotes are used throughout the book and the back
4. Use the em properly. See the following examples:
To most people it seemed Tommy was older than
Melvin—not in stature
but in valor.
There was one particular place—a deep water hole—where a woman was said to
have drowned many years before.
5. Note how the front matter is displayed in other books; although
you have some freedom, you should know where and how the copyright page is
displayed, where the dedication should appear, etc. Also check out the
various ways of numbering the pages, especially in regard to the front
6. Be sure that your manuscript has been proofread by several
people. We see many POD books that have a good storyline but are
peppered with spelling errors, improper punctuation, and flaws with sentence
construction. In regard to the writing itself, we see problems
with characterization, shifting point of view, weak plot line, wordiness,
irrelevant material, an obvious lack of research, etc. Just as
publishers and agents want to work with experts, your self-published or POD
book should show your expertise in regard to the writing and
presentation. If using a POD publisher, do not allow the book to
be printed until you are satisfied that it is as perfect as possible.
Download this Free English Handbook for Writers
In order to help you with your writing career, we have provided an e-book
for you to download that will help you with your punctuation, sentence
construction, etc. Punctuation and grammar count! To receive your free
e-book, click here.