Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Things to Do Right Now While Submitting Your Manuscript

I am working with my publisher now on things he needs for the book catalog, etc. that I should not have to create in a panic, but things I should have already planned to have ready.

Here are things you should get in order while you are submitting your manuscript--

1) A short & long bio.

One that's right to the point (i.e. Kelli Russell Agodon is the author of Small Knots (2004) & Geography (2003). She is the co-editor of Crab Creek Review and lives in the Northwest with her family. www.agodon.com) and another than can be a little more meandering: Kelli Russell Agodon was born and raised in Seattle, educated at the University of Washington and Pacific Lutheran University where she received her MFA from the ...blah blah blah...

2) A decent author photo

This can be done by a friend, but have it look as professional as possible. It can be hard to avoid looking posed (believe me!), but the more photos you take, the easier it gets. Have one in color and one in black and white (they do not have to be the same photo). Extra points for not holding a wine spritzer.

3) Write 1-2 paragraphs about your book (this will be for the catalog, or the description will be drawn from here.

Write it in third person. Here's an example of my first book's description...

Small Knots is a tender and terrifying collection of poems that maps the progress of a disease, celebrates the family and life's daily small joys, and meditates on what connects us to the world. In Kelli Russell Agodon's carefully crafted lines, the small knots are what bind us all, and cannot be broken.

Make sure it's something you love, I got very tired of reading "a tender and terrifying collection" pretty quickly.

4) Blurbs

Ugh, I so dislike blurbs or asking people for blurbs, but if you have friends who are poets who might want to support you or say a few words in your favor, ask them for some. If not full blurbs on the full manuscript, maybe just ask a few of your favorite poets for a sentence about your work.

5) A Mailing List

Keep an email list and a snail mail list of friends, family, and people who'd be interested in book. When you give readings, get names and emails too.

6) A list of people you know in other cities you could travel to who might be able to help you set up readings & a list of places to give readings

While so many people complain about the internet, this is one thing I love about it. My poetry community feels smaller. Now, while I'm not crazy about flying, I do plan to do some out-ofstate things to promote my book: AWP, readings, etc.

7) Keep your artist resume up to date as well as your where all your poems have been published

This is good because the resume helps when writing the bio (sometimes we forget all we've done) and you will need to know what was published where for your acknowledgment page.

8) If you have any reviews or articles about you online, cut and paste them into a MS Word file and save them on your computer.

This just happened to me. I went to get a couple sentences from an old (positive) review of my first book and it's gone. That means I have to find it in the Way Back Machine or cached somewhere else. Had I just had it saved in a document form, it would have saved me much work.

9) Keep track of any info that might be good for you promotional use

This could be anything from an article written about you, to a good Amazon review. Anything positive that a publisher might like to have

10) Get a website for yourself.

Even if you're not ready to share it with the world or the thought of your name = poet makes you feel queasy, you will need a website once your book is published. You will. Our world has changed. Authors and poets do themselves a huge disservice by not having a website where readers can contact them, see where they are reading, read their work online and find out how to get their books.

You can do this pretty inexpensively. I have no designer/techie background and I created my own website: www.agodon.com through a Yahoo template. It costs me $8 or $12 a month and I know if moved it to GoDaddy.com it would be less, but because I know what I'm doing where it is, I spend a little more just out of my comfort level.

Those are the main things that come to mind, but I'm sure there are others. Can you think of anything else?

Do them now, do not wait until your book gets accepted. It's so much easier to have them ready then it be slipping and sliding around looking for info. (Trust me on this, I speak from today's experience...)

Happy Submitting!


  1. that number 8 is a really good tip!

    i finally registered my domain name but i really can't decide who to go with for hosting. a little be daunted about designing my own site but i like that you were able to go with a template :)

  2. Find a bookstore or reading venue that will host your premier reading, and do it a few months before the book is due. Calendars fill up fast, especially in Seattle.

  3. Jessie, I wish I had advice about hosting, but I know little to nothing. I've heard GoDaddy is the cheapest, but I'm not sure about much else or what that includes. Smart of you to register your name!

    R-- Yes, thank you! I completely forgot! That is a huge one. I should really look into it myself!


  4. Thanks so much for these practical manuscript-related posts you've been do. They are so helpful and though I'm not at that stage yet I am filing them away for future reference.

  5. I'm glad, Luke. Thanks for your note.

    Jennifer, glad to help!


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