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A Pacific Islander’s Guide to Getting Published: The Submission Package Part 2

Welcome to the second part of our series dedicated to helping Pacific Islander creators navigate the publication process. In this post, we'll delve into the submission package. If you missed the first post, you can find it here.

No matter which literary agents or publishers you’re sending your work to, you will need a submission package for your manuscript. Before digging into what that includes, remember that you should always polish your manuscript to the best of your abilities before submitting it to industry professionals. Have people (preferably not your family and friends) read and assess your manuscript. These are called beta readers. Take your time to revise and edit your manuscript using objective feedback. 

Once your manuscript is in its best possible shape and the only feedback you get is praise, determine what your book’s genre(s) and target audiences are. Is it fiction or nonfiction? For adults or children? Is it high fantasy or contemporary fantasy? This will in turn help you come up with a list of literary agents and/or publishers interested in the type of book you’re pitching. For example, if your book is general non-fiction, you might want to consider academic publishers as well as non-fiction editors. If you have a picture book, you’ll want to consider agents or presses specialized in children’s literature. If you write poetry and literary work, academic presses may be of interest to you.  Genres and Age Categories:

As you make your lists of agents, read books similar to yours that were published in the last 4 or 5 years. Study them, their lengths, their craft, etc. For example, if you write a Middle Grade novel, be sure to have a manuscript that fits publishers’ expectations in terms of length (the average word count for MG is 35-60K for fiction). See this blog post for more information on word count. For non-fiction work, publishers usually expect you to have an author’s platform and/or credentials showing that you can reach your target audience (check out this post by Jessica Faust to learn more about writers’ platforms). Reading books that have been published recently will help you at every stage of your journey, from drafting to preparing your submission. 

Now that you know your book’s genre(s), age category, and word count (metadata), you can prepare your submission package. A submission package includes: 

  • a query letter (or pitch letter)* with a short pitch, the titles of books comparable to yours (or comparative titles), and a short biography about yourself

  • sample pages of your work (usually the first 50 pages or first three chapters of the manuscript you are submitting for consideration)

  • a one- or two-page synopsis**

We also recommend having a one-line pitch or logline for your book at the ready, as some literary agents and editors may ask for it. How you will use this submission package will depend on whether you seek representation for your work and/or submit it to publishers.

* Here are some valuable resources for crafting effective query letters: Writer’s Digest’s query tips; Keala Kendall’s Query Tracker interview featuring her successful query letter and insightful tips; Query Shark’s query critiques for the dos and don'ts. ** Writing synopses is allegedly one of the most dreaded tasks for writers—understandably so! Summarizing your 90,000-word manuscript into a single, compelling page that includes spoilers is an exercise in frustration. A great resource for fiction is Susan Dennard’s method. For non-fiction, the synopsis is called a book proposal and has its own set of rules (check this page). Lastly, have someone who hasn’t read your book and isn’t familiar with the plot read your synopsis. If they’re able to tell you what the book is about and/or give you a correct summary of the plot, it’s a good indication that your synopsis does its job. In our next post, we'll delve into the roles of literary agents and the various types of publishers to which you can submit your work. Stay tuned for more insights and updates by following us!


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