1) Have a query letter and synopsis that piques the publisher’s interest. At this stage, your synopsis should be one page at the maximum.
2) Make sure your best writing goes into those first three sample chapters, which you enclose with your query. If your best writing starts in chapter four, start the book in chapter four.
3) Don’t start your novel with a weather report. A lot of writers do, but you want your book to stand out from the crowd. Hook them from the first line. I know people who refuse to even consider buying books which start with weather reports.
4) You don’t necessarily need a professional editor at this stage, but do get at least one other person to read your manuscript to catch any glaring errors.
5) If you’re sending three sample chapters, have a hook at the end of each chapter, and especially chapter three, so they’ll want to read more. If the publisher/editor wants to read the rest, it makes sense that readers/book buyers will as well.
6) Get used to singing the praises of your book. Why should they pick yours? What’s so special about it that they will want to publish it? What are you offering them that’s unique or different?
7) Include any details of short stories, articles in newspapers or magazines, even the web if your work has been selected. Don’t list your own web page as a writing credit.
8) If you’re sending out your manuscript as a hard copy, print it on white paper, double spaced with generous margins. Don’t send the copy you’ve spilled coffee on and don’t send off your only copy either.
9) A lot of books on writing tell you to research the market before you actually write the book, but that has never worked for me. The market changes too rapidly to gauge what will be popular when your book is ready. Write what you want to read, if you’re bored writing it, readers will be bored reading it.
10) And finally, “Never give up, never surrender!” (With apologies to Galaxy Quest!)
Annette Gisby is the author of Silent Screams, a thriller about family secrets coming soon. Two of her short stories appear in the sci-fi anthology, Alien Light and later this year her story, A Knight Without Armor will appear in the Romancing the Soul Anthology. She is also the editor of the Twisted Tales Webzine.