Submitting a manuscript to an agent or publisher can be a bit like a blind date: you’re not sure what to expect and you might make a fool of yourself. But don’t worry, by avoiding these five common mistakes, you can increase your chances of ending up with the publishing deal of your dreams:

  1. Not doing your research. Just like with a blind date, you wouldn’t show up to a fancy restaurant in joggers and trainers, so don’t submit a romance novel to an agent or publisher who only represents horror. Research the agent or publisher you’re submitting to, find out what types of books they represent and what their submission guidelines are.

  2. Not following the submission guidelines. If the date says “no flowers”, don’t show up with a bouquet. If the publisher asks for double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman, that’s what they want. Not following the guidelines is going to start you off on the wrong foot and make it less likely you’ll get that publishing deal. Why? Because you’re not showing attention to detail if you’re not following the guidelines.

  3. Not proofreading your manuscript. Spelling and grammar errors are like bad breath on a date, they’ll make the other person want to make a run for it. Make sure you proofread your manuscript carefully before you submit it. And have someone else read it over as well, just to be safe. Same as point two, you’re not showing us that you pay attention to detail. But, we also know that the odd error slips through so we wouldn’t reject your submission for this alone.

  4. Not sending a strong query letter. A query letter is like a dating profile, it’s your chance to make a good first impression. Make sure it’s well-written and highlights the key aspects of your book that make it stand out. There will be specific information that the agent or publisher wants from you, so make sure you give them this but get to the point. We have that many submissions to read through, that we just want our questions answered!

  5. Submitting to multiple agents/publishers simultaneously. This is like dating multiple people at the same time, it’s not fair for the other person and you might end up with a bad reputation. Always check guidelines and individually submit to each agent/publisher. Some are fine with you submitting to others at the same time but if in doubt, let the agent or publisher know if you’re waiting for an answer from anyone else when you submit. Or if the timeline for an answer has passed (e.g. ours is 12 weeks) you should be ok to submit elsewhere.

By avoiding these five common mistakes, you can increase your chances of getting your manuscript accepted by an agent or publisher. Remember that rejection, in publishing and dating, is a part of the process. Don’t give up if your manuscript is rejected.