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July 29, 2021

Advice for Authors

SCORE is often approached by individuals who want to write a book, as well as by authors who have already written a work that they want to sell. Here is some advice from a member of the publishing community to those hoping to “get published.”

Rules for Writers

Rule #1 Get an agent. Editors don’t usually accept unsolicited manuscripts. An unagented submission can sit around forever without being read.

Tips for finding an agent:

  • Look for agents in a reference book called Literary Marketplace (often called the LMP). It should be available at your local library.
  • Get recommendations from writers who are doing well and are happy with their agents.
  • Never, under any circumstances, pay an agent to read your material. Agents work for “free” untilthey get you some money—then they get a percentage.

Rule #2 A first novel should be complete—have your entire manuscript finished before attempting to submit it to anyone. Shorter manuscripts have a better chance than 800+ page manuscripts. The average is 380 pages.

Rule #3 To save money when submitting material to multiple agents, write a strong submission letter. In your letter, describe the plot in a paragraph or two, then list any credentials you have that might make a difference in the literary world. Submit the letter with the first 60 or so pages of the manuscript. A good agent will know in 60 pages (probably more like 10) whether he or she is interested.

Rule #4 If you’re not going to get an agent, look in bookstores for authors whose work you admire. Note who published the book, and see if the editor is thanked in the acknowledgments. Write to that person with a “Because of my admiration for ___________, I am writing to you about my ...” letter.

Resources for Writers

Contact your library for the following (These are available at the Lawson McGhee Library):

  • 2001 Writers Market (8,000 Editors who buy what you write) Editor: Kirsten C. Holm
  • Lists who will publish by type of story. Their web site is:
  • LMP Literary Marketplace 2002 – The Directory of the Book Publishing Industry. Includes e-mail addresses. There are also similar books for poets and songwriters.
  • -Contains topics on getting published
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