How to submit your manuscript to the professionals: is email ok?

Joining us again today is guest blogger and professional reader Cressida Downing. She spends much of her time sifting through manuscripts to pull out those gems with serious publishing potential. So how should (and shouldn’t) you be submitting yours?

Most of my manuscripts are still delivered to me as weighty brown-paper bundles. The postmen around here hate me – I live right at the end of a cul-de-sac – right at the end of a route, and have the heaviest parcels in the village. God knows what they think I actually do.

Today I’ve also read through a handful of emailed submissions, forwarded to me by a literary agent. Pinging your manuscript over as an attachment used to be frowned upon, but is quite acceptable now.To my mind the ideal emailed submission includes information about the submission and the author in the body of the email, set out as a covering letter, with a synopsis and the first three chapters attached as two separate files.

I’ve seen submissions that could have been promising, but I’ll never know because the author didn’t follow these guidelines. One aspiring author cherry-picked three chapters that she thought represented her work best. Unfortunately this left me unable to judge how her style flowed from chapter to chapter, so I ended up having to reject it.

Email may be delightfully informal but my heart still sinks whenever I find a manuscript full of casual mistakes. If grammar isn’t your strong point, do please get an understanding friend to proof-read your submissions before you send them in. Editors and agents, as you’ll no doubt be aware, have a very low tolerance of spelling mistakes.

Yours, Cressida


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