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Monday, March 18, 2013

Ready to Submit - The Submission Packet

Let's pretend all the major work of writing a novel is done. You wrote it. You edited it. You let your beta readers vivisect every scene. And you polished into perfection.You've done your research, found the perfect market, and you're ready to send that manuscript out into the world! Once you get past the formatting (Times New Roman, 12pt font, normal margins, double spaced, pages numbered, author's name on each page) you start running into the confusion of submission guidelines.

Agent Polly Perfect want the first 10,000 words, a 3-4 page synopsis, and a two sentence biography.

Agent Wesley Wellread wants the first 5 pages, nothing more.

Agent Andrea Alltogether wants the first two chapters and a 1 page synopsis with a query that's under 500 words.

If you're working out of one .docx document labeled MY NOVEL this will mean cutting and pasting and reorganizing everything for each submission. And if you run into a submission form where you need to load a document? It's not pretty.

Rather than reinventing the wheel every time you send out a query it's best to make a submission packet. Big advantage? A submission packet saves time and it means you won't accidentally send your rough draft to your dream agent.

In a new folder labeled NOVEL Submission Packet

- 1 full manuscript properly formatted
- 1 copy of the first 50 pages
- 1 copy of the first 10 pages
- 1 copy of the first 5 pages
- 1 copy of the first chapter
- 1 copy of the first 3 chapters
- 1 full length synopsis (3-4 pages)
- 1 one page synopsis
- 1 biography

This is less daunting than it sounds. Save the full. Save the fifty. Keep cutting words and saving. It's a matter of deleting and saving with the right label. Any time a new agent asks you for something - marketing plan, thoughts on cover art, character bible - you save it here in the submission packet. You won't notice during the first few queries, but by query #16 the streamlined process will save you oodles of stress.

Plus? It's great to be able to have a 5 minute turn around when an agent requests the full manuscript and a full synopsis off your query. That's not a situation where you want to wait until you need the materials to write them.


  1. I do this and save it to a folder on my desktop.

    1. I have three projects that are "live" right now so I have a group folder, with a sub-folder for each project. It's the only way I can keep track of everything.

  2. "That's not a situation where you want to wait until you need the materials to write them."

    ...You meant I SHOULDN'T wait until an agent request my novel to write it? O:) :D