Literary Agents, Novel Competitions and The Courier, by Gordon JC Campbell

I’m feeling fortunate as a first-time novelist yet unpublished.  The publishing world is complex and demanding but access to support and essential knowledge is available and extensive.  Here are five points to consider when preparing submissions for first novel competitions or literary agents:

-1- Submissions:  the publishing industry expects manuscript submissions to have double spacing and some agencies and contests specify 12 point Times New Roman font and require indented paragraphs. Why let the basics get in the way and miss an opportunity because your font is too small?

-2-Read the literary agent submission guidelines and contest rules carefully.  Literary agent submission requirements vary from one page to multiple chapters,  require a one page query letter and a synopsis of one to three pages. There are helpful blogs published by professionals and agency sites offering advice and examples to assist creation of items necessary to submissions. (A few are listed near the end of this blog.)

                One novel competition requires category, manuscript title and page numbers all in the right-hand corner.  I had the document prepared with 12 point Times New Roman font and indented paragraphs and caught this rule while reviewing contest submission guidelines just before launching the email.

-3-Do your research.  Most of the sites I’ve visited have detailed agent bios and often interviews can be found on the web with further information about the agent’s specific interests.

-4-Learn as you go.  I might have shipped submissions before my manuscript was perfected but the research necessary to submissions and contest applications is educational and negative feedback hopefully leads to improvement.  Check out the following rejection format. This is a template I’ll keep and use to “say no thank you”.

Thank you for your query and for letting me have a look at your work. I apologize for the impersonal nature of this email but I receive so many queries that it makes it impossible for me to respond personally to each one. Thank you for your patience.

Unfortunately, I don’t feel that this is right for me, so I’m passing. Just because I wasn’t quite drawn in, however, doesn’t mean there isn’t another agent out there who will love it. I encourage you to continue to submit elsewhere.
            "QueryTracker": this is a platform assisting your search for literary agents specializing in a specific genre.  Find artists you respect and connect with their literary agents.
Query letters. Jane Friedman's site has useful advice on query letter composition and other practical information relevant to novel publication.

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