• Don’t just write what you want to write; write what readers want to read. This is the insight which successful authors have, and which makes them stand out from the crowd.
• Do your research. Once you have established what a publisher or agent’s interest is, drill down and find out more about the specifics of what they handle; for instance, do they do general historical fiction, or just sagas or romances?
• Accompany your submission with a professional query letter. Look at it like a job application. Tell them a little about yourself, and if you’ve had any previous writing successes like winning an award. Don’t be desperate!
• Include a word count (a fiction novel should be between 45,000 and 100,000 words). Identify the genre you are aiming at.
• Make sure your story sparkles from the very first page. The reader must be compelled from the start, and if your book only really gets going around page 100, you are in trouble!
• Pay attention to spelling, punctuation and grammar. Maybe enlist the help of a literate friend or critique partner to proof-read before you submit.
Tessa Shapcott is a freelance editor and writer. She can be contacted via www.tessashapcottbookeditor.com