Submissions is the part no one in publishing really loves. Ok, maybe a few people who missed out on being treasure hunting archeologists. Most of us though, just want to find a great read that fits the parameters of what we’ve already told you (often in great detail) we’re looking for.
Below is an example of a submissions policy taken from experienced Literary Agent Jeff Herman’s website. (Jeff’s site offers loads of good advice by the way, so read it!)
Author Submissions Policy
We will consider unsolicited submissions. Please send us a letter pitching us about why we should speculate our time to read your entire proposal or manuscript. You may either email the letter to:
or send by regular mail to:
The Jeff Herman Agency
PO Box 1522
Stockbridge, MA 01262
We provide no guarantees about when we will respond. In the event we “reject” your submission, we might not respond if no SASE is provided for that purpose. We do not request exclusive consideration.
With few exceptions, we are a non-fiction agency. Specific areas of interest include:
- How to/self help
- True crime
- Narrative non-fiction
- Practical Spirituality
- Multi-cultural subjects
We look for books that fill gaps in what is already on the shelves. When choosing a topic you need to look beyond what interests you to determine if it will interest any one else. You are asking us as agents to vouch for you, the quality of your work and the potential for book sales. In turn we will be asking an editor/publisher to spend money to obtain, produce and distribute your book to the marketplace. This is a calculated business decision by both the agency and the book publisher. If you want to compete for those coveted spots on a publisher’s list you need to learn your craft as well as the business side of things.
What we want you to notice is the exacting detail Jeff goes into about what he is looking to find. He wants non-fiction. Don’t bother sending in your bodice-ripper novel! Written a book about your time with the LA Dodgers, a great memoir . . . maybe that’ll fly. But do you see the word sports anywhere? So send in your letter, but don’t get your hopes up too high.
If you want to send a query letter to a publishing house directly, observe their submission’s process rules. Send them what they’re looking for, not what you think is going to bowl them over despite being out of their field. And follow their directions to the letter.
FAB does History, Mystery, and Travel, preferably all three combined in one book, but not necessarily. We tell people our interests on our website banner as well as on our front page. If you read the site further, you see we do light fiction, usually 300 printed pages or less, and there can’t be any graphic sex, violence, or swearing. But there isn’t a stated submissions policy anywhere (yet). So you wouldn’t be out of line sending us a query letter regarding say a creative non-fiction book about your hunting Inca treasure in Peru with a rather cross Alpaca named Burt, but you’d be mad to send us a hand-illustrated manuscript of a children’s book about fairies.
If you aren’t sure what the submissions policy is, read a publisher’s recent books, with an eye to finding out where your book might fit into their catalog. A publisher is usually always looking for new book, but older books often lay all the major parameters out for you. At FAB, what we decided to do, was start with a book series that best reflects what are interests and limits are. It’s why we published these books first. They lay out many of the boundaries.
Most companies try to make it clear what they want so they don’t end up with the desk above!