Competition in today’s literary marketplace is fierce. Writers have access to more resources than ever–computers instead of fountain pens, internet search tools and industry insights published far and wide across the Web. This means that the technical prowess of writers has increased and so have publisher expectations. While we at SLJ intend to offer editing and mentoring to today’s generation of emerging authors, we can still offer tips on how to catch the eye of our acquisition team, and how to avoid rejection. Our editors can spot fatal flaws in a manuscript very early, sometimes within the first line or paragraph. It’s the author’s job to keep us reading until the end. This means writing with the audience in mind, understanding and respecting conventions, and stringent self-editing before submission.
More than ten years ago, J.A. Konrath published a blog article about how not to write a story. The points he made are still salient today. If you want an insider glimpse of what slogging through submissions is really like–and common reasons that manuscripts get rejected–have a look at his article HERE. It’s an eye-opener. But we have to admit, most of our editors read it with knowing nods and rueful little smiles. We reject submissions for some of the same reasons, after having the same reactions he has described.
Dialogue formatting is another key point of manuscript failure. While a story may be compelling enough for us to publish it on narrative elements, we will expect the author to correct any flaws with formatting according to industry standard. More information about formatting dialogue is found HERE.
Find a good article about story arc HERE.
Our own editors discuss story arc HERE.
Headhopping will kill you. Or, at least it will kill your submission. Learn more about POV and our standards for publication HERE.
Grammar, syntax, and spelling are only one part of the editing process. Developmental and content editing play a huge role in publication. If you submit to SLJ, it’s almost a certainty that we will require changes. Don’t take this personally. It’s our job. It’s also our job to make sure the best possible version of your work is published for public consumption. The pro-tips you’ll find at the links on this page will give you a very good idea about the quality of work our editors expect.