Monday, September 07, 2009

The Nuts and Bolts of Submission

Welcome to the launch of my redesigned Joy in the Journey. The purpose of Joy in the Journey is still to chronicle my journey from obscurity to New York Times bestselling author. Mondays are the day I'm most looking forward to. It is Roll up Your Sleeves Day, a reminder I desperately need.

So to kick off our first Roll up Your Sleeves Day, let me welcome Lisa Lickel to Joy in the Journey. Lisa will share a workshop with us in three parts from the Wisconsin Writers connect day coming up October 17.

Welcome, Lisa, and thank you for sharing your expertise.

The Nuts and Bolts of Submission by Lisa Lickel

For beginners--Part I

Nuts and bolts are integral to the framework upholding your final product. In our case, “final product” is that published article, devotional, short story, novel, novella, play, joke, greeting card, poem, song…okay, whatever you’ve written. As in any building endeavor, there are directions to follow in order for the completed structure to stand strong. Publishers already know this. That’s why they’ve developed a particular strategy to weed out the chaff from the wheat. Besides publisher’s guidelines found most often of websites, the Writer’s Market is an invaluable tool that includes lots of advice.

Remember, a publisher can’t say “no” if you don’t submit. They can’t say “yes” either.

So, a few rules:

Start the submission process with a completed project.

Do your homework. Make sure your work fits the publication

Follow guidelines exactly. Seek the publisher’s submission guidelines and do what they say.

Really. Do what they say – no more, no less.

Have patience. Be professional. Be polite. Don’t burn your bridges.

Submissions have a lot of variance according to individual publishing house rules. Let me reiterate: A LOT! You must be very careful to follow something called “guidelines” which we’ll get to. But there are some basic underlying documents to prepare and keep on hand that can be adjusted as needed. Even if you don’t use each document, it’s still good practice to prepare. The preparation will help you understand and bond with your project. Enthusiasm is important when pitching your project, both verbally and in writing. For most written work, you’ll put together a “submission packet” which will probably include some or all of the following:

Query/ or query letter

Cover letter

Synopsis which will include a hook or theme or log line

Writing sample, which will usually be the first few chapters or completed piece for shorter items

If needed/available: Resume, Clips, for non-fiction or marketable information about yourself

Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope if sending by land

Only the above items should be included, and only on industry standard supplies in industry standard format. Keep in mind, though, that different companies have different requirements. You may be asked to include a resume or fill out extensive information about yourself and your goals and experience.

What not to use or include:

Fancy stationery of any kind
Perfume or scent
Gifts of any kind
Voice messages
Revelations from God or anyone else
Underwear or any other personal items (one CBA agent recently revealed that he had received such an item included with a proposal and considered the sender “nuts”)

Thanks again, Lisa, for sharing. I never would've thought some of these things would be an issue with aspiring writers. I look forward to next Monday and Part II of The Nuts and Bolts of Submission.


  1. OMG... too funny about the "extras" sent along with a proposal!! "Nuts" is exactly how I'd describe that writer. ;)
    Great basics to jot down. Going to make a special folder to keep close at hand.
    Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Who would've thought of doing something like that? I'm so happy to have so many talented writers who agreed to make Joy in the Journey a fun place to hang out.

    Thanks Mid for stopping by.