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The Submission Process


Self publishing has become a popular and very easy option for many authors in this new internet age.  So easy that many writers, I suspect, no longer to stop to consider the traditional route of submitting their work to an agent or publisher.  Sadly, in my view – and often wrongly.  By avoiding the submission process, you are losing out on one of the most life affirming experiences you can ever have – that of being rejected continually, and then finally getting an acceptance!  Unless you’ve had that letter saying ‘Yes’ you cannot know just how good that feels.

It’s very easy to dismiss the submission process from the outside, until you have seen a little of it from the inside of the industry.  My publisher is a small house, so new you will probably never have heard of them.  Yet they receive nearly one hundred unsolicited manuscripts a WEEK.  The simple fact is that it isn’t possible for them to read all those submissions, so they have devised a guideline process for their submissions, like every other agent or publisher.  And guess what?  Most of the hopeful authors haven’t bothered to read the guidelines, and their work is just rejected out of hand.

In that rejected pile could be some real gems.  The next Harry Potter, maybe. But the practicality is this: no agent or publisher can possibly hope to read everything they are sent.  They do not have the time.  The submission guidelines are there to help them by reducing the remorseless tide of unsolicited submissions to something manageable by giving them an instant reason to reject an author.

My advice is simple.  Read the instructions. (Yes, I know we blokes don’t normally do that, but this is an exception.)  Follow them to the letter.  The process is designed to give the agent an excuse not to bother reading your magnum opus, so do not give them that excuse.  Whatever they ask for, do it.  Go on, you owe it to yourself, don’t you?


Will Macmillan Jones lives in Wales, a lovely green verdant land with a rich cultural heritage. He does his best to support this heritage by yelling loud encouragement at the TV when Wales plays international rugby. Having been an accountant for much of his working life, he now writes in a desperate attempt to avoid terminal atrophy of his brain. A fifty something lover of blues, rock and jazz, he has achieved a lifetime ambition by extending his bookcases to fill an entire wall of his home office. 

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