Looking for Agent/Editor Feedback

Here at Writer’s Digest Books, we’re in the process of updating our popular title, Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript, and are looking for insight from agents/editors on how the industry is changing. Here are a few things we’re interested in knowing.
  • How have queries and submissions changed for you in recent years? Do you request different information? Do you accept email queries? If so, do you prefer electronic or paper queries? How important is format and formality in electronic communication?
  • What are your pet peeves and turnoffs?
  • What are your dos and don’ts for writers? 
  • Have you changed how you select authors? How many of your authors are found through queries, and how many through other means? Do you want to hear about an author’s platform? 
  • What recent changes in your market do you want writers to know about?

    Writers are also welcome to comment and offer tips.

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3 thoughts on “Looking for Agent/Editor Feedback

  1. Heather Shaw

    # How have queries and submissions changed for you in recent years? Do you request different information? Do you accept email queries? If so, do you prefer electronic or paper queries? How important is format and formality in electronic communication?

    Certainly, the biggest change has been in the digitization of everything – and yes, this is how we prefer to receive material. However, since digitization to many people is synonymous with “instant gratification,” the quality of queries has cheapened. Be aware that just because it’s easy and fast to send an email doesn’t mean that the preparation of said email should be easy or fast. Look upon a query and your one and only meeting with the editor, face to face. Make the best impression.

    # What are your pet peeves and turnoffs?

    I don’t want to receive a standardized query letter. A publisher is a potential partner. Please tell me why you think our partnership would be mutually beneficial.

    # What are your dos and don’ts for writers?

    Please follow the guidelines specific for each publisher. If we ask for a 500-word pitch and a sample of the first three chapters, then don’t send a book cover your mother whipped up or a list of endorsements from your friends. Don’t make the query look like a press release: state clearly in the email heading that you are submitting a query. If you are submitting by mail, don’t bother to send your query marked “Requested Material.” Forget about the drawings from your kids. And don’t put so much tape on the package that we need a table saw to open it.

    # Do you want to hear about an author’s platform?

    Yes, a platform is important. More important is the author’s willingness to create a platform after signing a contract. We require that all our authors immediate start blogging and commenting in topical forums, for example.

    Heather Shaw, Senior Editor, Spirituality & Health Books

  2. beth

    As a writer, I’d love to know some of the nit-picky details, such as whether TNR or Courior is better for submission. Writers obsess over these details, but this book (I have an older edition) would be an invaluable resource. I’d love to know more updates based on advances in the technical world.

    Also: Formatting for electronic submission.

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