The publishing industry is constantly changing, and this has had a dramatic effect on traditional manuscripts. In the past, an agent or publisher could have easily passed on a book based solely on the writer’s lack of name recognition. However, in today’s digital age of self-publishing and marketing platforms like social media, that same lack of name recognition can be your greatest asset!
So before you submit your manuscript to an agent or publisher, make sure it includes these key elements:
You may be wondering why you need a cover letter. The answer is simple: there are many people submitting manuscripts, so it’s important to make yours stand out from the rest.
A good cover letter should include the following:
- A sentence or two explaining why you’re submitting this manuscript, who it’s for (if it’s nonfiction), and what your goal is in writing it. If you have the time (and space), talk about how long you’ve been working on this book and how much research went into its creation.
- Information about yourself and what qualifies you as an expert on the subject matter of your book. This can include previous work experience or knowledge gained through education or personal interests in related subjects such as science, politics, etc.
- A brief paragraph explaining why publishing houses like Lucid Books (for example) should pick up not only your manuscript for this book title but also any of your future works (i.e., \”I’m excited about these ideas because…\”).
A one-page synopsis is a brief overview of your book. It’s a distillation of the main story points, characters, and themes. A good synopsis should be able to clearly communicate what your book is about in less than one page. We know that seems short but you certainly don't want to overwhelm the reader to whom you’re presenting your work. It’s just not necessary at this stage of the publishing game. Make sense?
The best way to simplify your synopsis is to take out all the unnecessary details so that you can focus on what matters most for this particular book title. To do this, write down only the key plot points, then you can work from there.
One-Line About Yourself As An Author
This portion of your manuscript should be reserved for a short bio about none other than yourself. Include any of your relevant background information and any contact information you would like to include.
Some examples might be:
- Social media links (Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, etc.)
- Author Website URL
- Professional Email address
- Phone number
- Book title(s)
- Chapter Headers and Number of Chapters
Editing Note: Be sure that your chapter headers are bold and italicized. Remember to also include the number of chapters so the reader can get an idea of the length of the book in its entirety.
No Page Numbers Needed
As you are putting together your manuscript, you should keep one thing in mind. You most likely won't want to include an exact page number on any of your work. This includes your synopsis, sample chapters, market analysis, and cover letter.
However, an exception to this rule would be if you are writing a novel that has multiple parts. If it’s necessary for the reader to know how many pages they have read in order to stay on track with understanding how much longer there is left before finishing the book. In that case, it would be appropriate for them to know the exact page count. However, other than this exception, you won't need to include page numbers anywhere else on anything related to your manuscript or query submissions.
The sample chapters of your manuscript should be from the first half of your book. The first three chapters are typically where most readers get hooked on your story, so try to include those in your sample. You can also include some later chapters if they’re particularly strong or unique, but make sure to keep them balanced out with the earlier ones whenever necessary.
Sample Market Analysis
A market analysis is not required, but it is recommended. This could include a description of your target audience, a summary of your book’s plot and its characters, and an overview of your social media presence.
If you have no social media following yet (or even if you do!), this section can be very helpful in setting realistic expectations for your potential reach in readership.
You’ll want to describe the type of readers who would particularly enjoy reading this book—are they primarily women or men? What age group do they fall into? Is there anything about the story that might be more inclusive than others?
THINK: What could make your book title jump off the shelves to your ideal audience?
When you’re ready to get started on your manuscript, be sure to keep these guidelines on hand. The more organized and detailed you can make your submission, the easier it will be for the publishing house to review it.
If you have any questions about the process, feel free to reach out to us via our contact page or on our social media pages! For more tips and advice about publishing your next book, check out the rest of our blog articles here!