Manuscript Submissions to Agents, Review Copies, and Shoeboxes

If you’ve ever submitted a manuscript to a literary agency in hopes of scoring literary representation, you know that the process is (almost) as artful as the development of the manuscript itself. There are scores of tactics that writers have used to get their work in front of their target audience, ranging from the blind query letter (boring), to the literal elevator pitch (really . . . in an elevator . . . which can, depending on the agent, border on assault). A friend of mine sent a copy of his manuscript in a shoebox, with a shoe, mind you, and a note pleading his case that he was just trying to get his foot in the door. Creativity through this process can bring attention to the submission, send a literary agent away screaming for their space, or–quite possibly–land you in jail. (For me, a reevaluation of friends may be in order.)

Agents are inundated with submissions, so who’s to blame the ambitious author who provides their work in a shoebox? Despite its cheesiness, it’s hard to fault the ambitious author who does whatever he or she has to do to break through. Maintaining professional dignity through the process, however, may provide an an agent a desirable client. Indeed, there’s no one right way to get a book published, and agents have a spectrum of sensibilities in regard to submissions. For The Silent Partner, review copies of the book are in development for reviewers, bloggers, and agents and acquisition editors, and some free copies for a grassroots fanbase in development. (In the end, it is the work that matters, and its marketability, but building a desirable readership has its advantages, too, in bringing attention to the material. We’ll see how this goes.)

For me, a shoebox is out. I’ve never seen 8 1/2″ by 11″ shoeboxes that would fit an unfolded copy of my manuscript anyway.

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