Besides being a multi-published author, I lead another separate life as an editor for an electronic publisher. To preface this advice, you should know I love editing and helping other authors develop their careers, (and with a large GRIN on my face), I take pride in each success I've played a small part in along the way. If this information helps anyone then pay it forward. Share your success by pulling someone with you up the steep incline.
One thing I've noticed about submissions (which sometimes tells more about the author than the manuscript) is how the guidelines are followed. So if you are thinking about submitting to anyone, anywhere, read this first...because editors know every manuscript comes with an author attached.
In school each teacher repeated, "Read and follow the directions before beginning..." and now I think, Great advice. If only more people paid attention to details. (To this day, when I shove a boxed microwave dish in to warm before reading the instructions, I think, I've done it a million times. What could be different? Then my conscience kicks in. I pull it out, read the directions, and sometimes discover the directions have changed.)
Moving forward in life there are similar examples. Therefore, when something is vitally important to you, SHOW it. Remember "Show don't tell" from every writers' advice column you ever read? It's the same when submitting. If you don't understand the concept of SHOW DON'T TELL this is a perfect example.
"Talk is cheap." Prove it. Show me. Cliche after cliche can be applied here for good reason. Cliches are tried and true. (Ha-ha again.)
In your query letter, you can TELL me how important your book is, how many times you've edited your manuscript, how well you work well with others (your critique partners), or how you'll cooperate with your editor. But SHOWing is more effective. The QUERY letter shows all that if you know how to follow directions.
Carefully check the company submission guidelines, (which includes being familiar with what the company publishes) and take the submission process seriously (every step of the way).
The true reflection of how you feel about your career, your book, and the person you are submitting to will show when you follow the guidelines carefully and COMPLETELY.
- Don't get sloppy.
- Don't skip steps.
- First impressions do count.
- Pick the right publisher for your book!
This is your chance to present yourself and your book in the best light. Clean your book 'til it glows like a shiny new penny. A well-groomed manuscript SHOWs you care about it and take pride in a job well done. It also SHOWs the effort you put into your writing.
Then, all that effort will be rewarded because the person you submit to will see you cared enough to make it the best it could be, and hopefully will take you and your book more seriously when they make that important decision.
All that being said, a rejection doesn't mean you failed to do all this correctly. It means this publishing world is subjective, and the impression of a book is the result of very personal taste. You (pointing a finger at YOU) KNOW that's true! So do NOT be discouraged.
Revise. Submit. Revise. Submit. Revise. Submit. And keep writing. If you've done your homework...according to directions...the A+ will be that contract.