Wednesday, February 6, 2019

5 Questions to Ask Before Submitting to an Agent or Editor

Are you tired of not receiving a response from an agent and/or editor? Although I personally never give an automatic rejection to a submission (only because I like to give everyone a chance), the truth is, many agents/editors will delete a submission--even before they have a chance to evaluate it entirely. 

Why, though? Isn't it rude for an agent/editor to delete a submission before even giving it a chance? 

Sure, it might sound that way. But think about it the other side: Editors and agents receive multiple submissions per week. If a writer does not adhere to specific guidelines, then, well--that's an easy way for the agent/editor to separate the pros from the amateurs. And even though it's harsh, many of these agents/editors will give an automatic no ... even without telling this to the writer. It's actually considered "rude" for writers to avoid these guidelines that they've set in place.

So what can you do, as an aspiring author, to ensure that you do not receive this automatic "no"? 

Here are 5 questions you can ask yourself before hitting "submit": 

1. Did I spell the agent or editor's name correctly? 

Remember: This is likely the first impression you'll make (after the subject line, of course). You'd be surprised how many emails I receive that are addressed to "Emily" rather than "Tessa" ... lol! 

2. Am I submitting to the right person? 

Check the site. Ensure that the agent or editor accepts your genre and would make a good match for your works. 

3. Did I follow the specific guidelines? 

There are some writers who think they're better than the rules. But the guidelines are there for a reason! Don't be lazy--unless, of course, that's the impression you'd like to make. I doubt it is, though. You're hoping to work with this agent or editor, so make sure it's obvious that you're a professional. And professionals don't carry an egotistical attitude. 

Remember that agents and editors have different guidelines for submissions. For example, some agents request only the query and first three chapters of the writer's manuscript in the body of the email, while other agents request the query and full proposal attached to the email. There are sometimes guidelines for the subject as well. (For example, the agent/editor may request the title, genre, and word count in the subject line.) This guideline is there for a reason, as it helps us to keep our emails organized. 

4. Have I edited my submission--the query letter, book proposal, and sample chapters? 

Don't rush this process. Search for typos. You are a writer, after all. And even though writers aren't always perfect in the arena of grammar and punctuation, your submission will look sloppy if it isn't clean. (I personally recommend having others read over the proposal/submission to double-check, as we're often blind to our own faults.)

5. Did I submit the right file and adhere to the standard format? 

Again, you'll want to read the guidelines carefully to make sure that you've hit every mark. The .doc or .docx file is typically preferred for a standard book proposal/manuscript--unless, of course, another type is requested. You'll also want to make sure that your submission has been adjusted to the standard font as well, which is Times New Romans, 12 pt font. 

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this process, you might think agents and editors are asking too much of writers--as if they're requesting you to jump through unnecessary hoops. But trust me when I say that these guidelines are set for a reason. Not to frustrate the author, but because it helps the agents in their evaluation process. Plus, it does help us to get an idea as to who is a pro and who is an amateur. Do what you can to come across as a pro!

So if you want to avoid those automatic rejections, do your research ahead of time--even if it requires hours upon hours of prep work. Keep in mind that almost every successful traditionally-published author has gone through this process as well. 

Then, when you're ready--and only then--should you send your work into the publishing world. But not without going over this check-list first, of course! 


5 Questions to Ask Before Submitting to an Agent or Publisher #publishing #askanagent @TessaEmilyHall

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Is Your Publishing Dream Worth the Rejections?

Publishing can be a rewarding field to work in—especially when it involves helping other authors achieve their dreams. There’s nothing like the feeling that comes from offering a writer a contract. 

But when I first took on my two roles in publishing, I didn’t quite take into account the fact that I would have to say “no” more often than I said “yes.” As an author myself, I understand the determination writers have toward reaching their dreams. I can relate with the emotional roller coaster that writers often find themselves on throughout this crazy journey.

And I know what it’s like to work so hard and have your hopes set on a specific publisher or agent, only to have yet another door shut in your face. A door that you thought for sure could be the one to lead you toward your dream.

So trust me when I say that it’s painful for me to write rejections as well. Since I’m passionate about motiving writers to achieve their dreams, it’s hard for me to realize that my rejection letter could accomplish the exact opposite. These letters could be a source of discouragement rather than encouragement.

Of course, I always try to come across as encouraging, even in the rejections. But it could still hurt the writer who is on the receiving end. The simple fact that they reached yet another closed door could tempt them to give up.  

The hard truth is, rejections are part of the journey. It’s inevitable. Yet even though us writers might know this, it still doesn’t take away the sting. You might be prepared to receive these letters, but it still doesn’t take away the discouragement. After a while, you might begin to wonder if the journey is even worth the effort. Besides, how is an aspiring author supposed to reach the land of publishing if every route she’s tried seems blocked—as if it leads to a dead end?

When we reach the point when the rejections seem endless, I think it’s important to take a pause. A breather. Remind yourself of why you’ve decided to set out on this voyage to begin with. Allow yourself to dream again.

Then, the next time you receive a rejection, remind yourself of the following truths…

1 – It’s all about perspective.

A rejection doesn’t mean you’re not a good writer, nor does it mean you won’t be published someday. It simply means that your project is not right for the agent or editor at this time. However, it might also mean that your book still needs some work.

Did you set out on the voyage toward your dreams prematurely? Should you go back to the starting line and spend more time honing your craft?

Remember: This is a journey, not a race.

2 – There are still other options.

The great thing about today’s publishing world is that there are multiple options for aspiring authors. There will always be another agent. Multiple smaller houses are providing aspiring authors with the chance to reach their publishing dreams as well. Self-published authors are beginning to earn more respect in the industry. Plus, you could always put the manuscript you’re shopping in your drawer for now and try to pitch another project instead.

The point is, there are always options. A rejection isn’t the end of the road. You simply need to decide which step to take next.

3 – You’re trying to find the perfect editor or agent for your project. Rejections mean that person was not the right fit. (For now, at least.)

Can I remind you of this genius quote by Thomas Edison?

“I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

If you receive another rejection, remind yourself that you didn’t fail. You just found yet another person who isn’t right for your project. But that doesn’t mean the right person won't come along at the right time. (Why is this starting to sound like a post on relationship advice? Haha)  

4 – Every successful writer has dealt with rejection at some point.

Again, rejection is simply part of the journey toward publication.

“J.K. Rowling’s first ‘Harry Potter’ was rejection 12 times. Stephen King’s ‘Carrie’ was rejected 38 times. I was immensely proud to have beaten them all.” 
– Ashwin Sanghi

5 – The dream will never come to pass if you don’t keep striving toward it.

Wouldn’t you rather try and be rejected rather than live with the regret of not trying at all?

“It is impossible to live without failing at something … unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.” 
– J.K. Rowling

So this year, as you continue to trek along your path toward publication, remind yourself that progress is better than being stagnant. Reaching a closed door is better than to never have knocked on the door in the first place. Besides, the simple fact that you wrote a book and you’re attempting to navigate the waters of publishing should be something to be proud of! You’re already farther ahead than several writers who only dream about writing a book.

The writing journey is simply that—a journey.

A journey that’s often filled with setbacks, failures, and mistakes.

Yet there are bright moments along the journey as well. Moments when you reach milestones that are worth celebrating. Moments when you learn to take constructive criticism and use that to catapult you further in your craft. Times when you hear back from readers who tell you that they couldn’t put your story down. Times when you might win contests or finally sign with your dream agent.

Those are the moments that will make this journey—and yes, even the rejections—worthwhile in the end.

“I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.” 
– Sylvia Plath

~ ~ ~ 
How do you handle rejections? 
Let me know in the comments!


Is Your Publishing Dream Worth the Rejections? #writingcommunity #writerslife @TessaEmilyHall

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

2019 Blogging Changes

Happy New Year!

Wow -- I can hardly believe it's been nine years since I launched this blog! It's crazy to think that I began as a 16-year-old who simply wanted to share her writing passion with other writers. {Check out my first-ever post!} It's been so fun to record my journey on this blog -- in both the writing and the publishing world. I've made amazing connections these past several years and have enjoyed helping you reach for your dreams as well! 

Unfortunately, due to time limitations, I need to cut back on my blogging schedule for this year. I will now post only once every other Wednesday. I am also launching a new column through titled "Becoming an Author", so several of the posts I share on here will be linked to my column posts. 

If time allows, I may post more often -- but for now this is how my blogging schedule will work. However, feel free to scroll through my archives and check out previous posts! 

Also, if you're interested in following my author journey then I would love for you to sign up for my newsletter! You can do so at this link. You can also check out my schedule for this year on my website at this link

I have also officially launched editing/mentoring services as well. If you're a writer who is looking for affordable rates, feel free to check out my services at this link

This isn't a goodbye, of course -- I simply wanted to "warn" you of the upcoming blog changes in 2019. =) I look forward to continuing to accompany you along your writing journey! In the meantime, feel free to let me know if you have any specific blog topic requests or questions you would like for me to answer in a post. 

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and happy New Year!