Getting a novel published is never an easy task, and there are many common mistakes writers make that cause agents, editors and publishers to move their submission to the rejection pile. Fortunately, most of these mistakes are easily correctable and correcting them will greatly improve your chances for success. Here are some of the most common mistakes:
1. Submitting a self-edited manuscript. No matter how many times you edit your own work, you will overlook things as simple as missed punctuation and grammatically clumsy structure. After spending months or even years writing a book, you are too close to it to see some of the errors. Pay a reputable freelance editor to review your manuscript. Be sure to check their references, agree on a maximum cost (if they are not charging a flat fee), and request that they send a sample of their editing style. Not every editor is a good fit for every writer.
2. Not following the proper format for submission. Never send an editor, publisher, or agent a single-spaced, 10-point manuscript; it will be tossed before they read the first paragraph. Editors and agents see hundreds of submissions in any given week, and they want the format to be easily readable. Your manuscript should be double-spaced with a 12-point font, with your name, the title, and the page number in the upper left hand corner of every page. The first page should
include your name, address, phone number, and approximate word count. Also include a self-addressed stamped envelope so they can send a response.
3. Following the crowd. One of the biggest mistakes beginning writer’s make is trying to write what is popular at the moment rather than a story they are really interested in telling. The glut of Templar-themed books after the success of the DaVinci Code has countless new writers studying Medieval history and Church conspiracy theories looking for a plot because they believe this is what publishers want. But by the time they finish that novel, if they ever do, the publishers will have already moved on the “next big thing”. As much time as you will spend writing and rewriting, you owe it to yourself to write a book that means something to you rather than just something you hope will make the best-sellers list.
A novel is a huge commitment, emotionally, physically and in time spent. In order to have any chance of seeing your work in print, have your book professionally edited, follow standard submission format guidelines, and write the book you want to write. Who knows, maybe your book will be the next big thing.