Okay, so you have written the novel of the century, you have pored over the writing websites until you are blue in the face. Your bright, shiny novel is sitting hopefully by your side while you glean what you can about submitting a query letter to the first publishing house, which, of course, will be picked up immediately because it’s THAT good. Just to be on the safe side, you send your query letter and first ten chapters to three publishers and wait…and wait…and wait. Suddenly, it occurs to you that they may not be getting back to you. Maybe, you think, the manuscript got lost in the mail, or cyberspace, or the dog ate it on the way to the publishing house or a freak tornado swooped down unexpectedly and thrashed the poor person who was going to deliver it. You make a mental note to send flowers to the poor mail carrier because surely, he or she must be in some serious pain after that tornado. I’ve been a publisher now for several years and have seen a lot of queries, a lot of submissions, and more chapters than I want to admit. While I love discovering new talent and am still excited to see what comes across my desk, there are several peeves I have when I see a query, and since there are numerous websites, blogs, and even books on how to get published, I figured I would write how not to get published.
1. Make it Boring.
Write a synopsis that includes every dry, boring detail, down to the color of the grass in your book. Make sure to take several pages to do so. Also, be sure to be devoid of any personality when querying a publisher. Use absolutely no action or dialogue in the first ten pages of your book.
2. Include References
Tell the publisher how much your friends and family love the book. Include quotes.
Do not follow the guidelines set forth by the publisher, and definitely don’t do your research when it comes to what the publisher publishes. So what if the publisher only takes horror novels and you wrote a romance? They’re sure to love it so much, they will take it no matter what. Make sure to submit your work of art without the word count and no query letter. Include this in your submission statement: “I know you don’t usually accept unsolicited books, but…”
Tell the publisher how you should be published not because of your stellar book, compelling storyline, but because of your complete and utter awesomeness. Make sure to remind the publisher just how lucky they are to consider you, that you actually took the time to allow them to consider you. Make no mention of your book while doing so.
7. Who Needs Help?
Do not, under ANY circumstances, get your book professionally edited. That’s what publishers are for, they will see the book for what it’s worth, why do you need to put in the extra effort and money to make it look polished? Your book is perfect just the way it is…
8. Ignorance is Bliss
If, on the off chance, you follow all these rules and a publisher shows a glimmer of interest, including a request for more information, please ignore him or her at all costs. Do not reply to queries for more information or answer any questions. That will surely make the publisher think that you are mysterious and intriguing…
So now you have a shiny, new manuscript and a roadmap of what to do to tick off any publisher around, get out there and start bugging!