Dos and Don’ts of Submitting Your Manuscript

Filed on July 25, 2016 - Comments (1)

Around 20% of books published by Penned in the Margins originated from unsolicited submissions. It’s an important source of new authors for us. Although it’s a struggle to keep up with the workload (we receive about 30 proposals a week), I’m happy to say we read and respond to every one individually. Our submissions window is always open, and I hope to keep it that way.

But… it remains dispiriting to read submissions that are poorly put together: from the merely careless to the downright arrogant. So in the interests of making potential authors aware of common pitfalls, here are my Dos and Donts of Submitting Your Manuscript. These are all personal tips, but many will apply to other publishers. If you can think of any more, please leave a comment at the bottom of this page!

Tom Chivers



Don’t send blanket submissions (and never, ever CC other editors)

Don’t start with ‘Hi’ or ‘Hey there’ – you’re entering a publishing relationship, not ordering a Big Mac

Don’t attach a covering letter to your email – your email is the covering letter

Don’t send an entire manuscript when we ask for ten pages

Don’t send your ten pages in ten individual documents

Don’t send your manuscript in a format we cannot read (we ask for Word or PDF)

Don’t send your manuscript as a web link

Don’t send manuscripts that are obviously inappropriate for our list (chick lit, crime fiction, short stories, etc)

Don’t send an ‘updated’ version of your manuscript unless we request one

Don’t send manuscripts that have already been self-published

Don’t assume anything about the person reading your letter

Don’t tell me how to do my job or put words into my mouth

Don’t say things like ‘you’re going to love this’ (or ‘you probably won’t read this’)

Don’t make grand claims

Don’t use words like ‘truth’ and ‘beauty’ unless you really know what you’re talking about

Don’t make inadvertent confessions, e.g. that you’ve never read our books, or that we’re the fourteenth publisher you’ve approached this week

Don’t tell me about your hobbies unless they are relevant to the publishing relationship you want with us

Don’t chase your submission after one week

Don’t ask for feedback if we are unable to give any

If your submission is rejected, don’t ever, ever write a spiteful email back



Do follow our guidelines carefully

Do address the editor personally – for avoidance of doubt my name is Tom and I’ll have a pale ale and a packet of scampi fries

Do your research

Do mention which of our books/authors you have read and enjoyed

Do give thought to why you have chosen this publisher

Do say nice things about us if they are genuine (but there’s no need to be obsequious)

Do proof/ spell-check your submissions – it’s a small courtesy to someone who is reading a lot of emails in a short space of time

Do tell me what the book is about (this applies to poetry collections just as much as novels)

Do tell me who you think will read your book, but don’t go into audience segmentation – this isn’t The Apprentice

Do tell me about yourself – your writing history, credits, any awards and so on – but no more than a paragraph or two

Do let me know if another publisher has accepted your manuscript

Do remember to attach your documents

One Response to “Dos and Don’ts of Submitting Your Manuscript”

  1. karen hart says:

    I have a novel I have written and would like to submit it for reading would this be possible please?
    Many thanks
    Karen Hart

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