Because I was an author first, I opened EG with the intent of being author friendly. I want to pull back the velvet curtain and expose the wizard - to shine some light on the darker corners of the publishing process, so that my fellow authors understand the industry better - perhaps giving them a heads up on what we publishers look for. If I can help just a handful of authors with the opening of European Geeks, I'll be happy, regardless of whether they are EG authors or not. I have and will continue to maintain an open door policy at EG - whether I'm answering questions for my own authors or others.
With that said, here are some tips to help you stand out when submitting to smaller publishers.
Take Time With Your Query Letter
Do not rush through your query letter!!! I cannot stress this enough. It does not have to be exceptionally personalized... you don't need to creep around on my blog or Twitter account to create a query. If you happen to follow and feel there is something worth mentioning, that's fine... but there is no need to go crazy with the personal research. What is most important is that your query letter contain all of the important information - your name, background & basic resume, synopsis, and genre information for your book. Pay close attention to the publisher's requirements. If they ask for X amount of chapters to be pasted into the body of the email, include EXACTLY that amount: no more, no less - and make sure not to include it as an attachment, unless requested. Most publishers won't open an unrequested attachment which ends your query before they've even read your submission. The most important thing to remember is spelling, grammar, and tone. If your letter is misspelled or poorly written, you can bet I won't be reading your included work.
Send Your Best Work
While this may sound like a no-brainer, you would be surprised at how much this piece of advice is ignored. While writing the last page of your manuscript is a momentous experience - in no way does that mean it is time to hit the send button! Small and Indie publishers usually operate with a smaller staff, which is why their royalty rates are the most competitive. However, this generally means that they won't take on a piece that will need heavy editing or story development. Once you have finished writing, put it away for a week to a month. Give your brain a break from it. Then pull it back out and go through your first round of edits. Then, give it to someone you trust - whether it is a friend or family member who is critical and excels in English or a freelance editor or fellow author - to do another round. Of course, one more round yourself will help catch any major errors that were missed in the first two rounds.
Because EG is run on such a small staff (allowing us to offer 50% royalties on print and 55% on ebooks) we won't take on a project that chock full of errors. We do understand that there will be some mistakes - but if I have to spend too much time with a red pen, chances are I won't be taking on your piece.
Set up a Professional Author Website with Accommodating Social Media Accounts
Once I have read your letter, I will check out any links you include in your query. If you don't include anything, my next step is most likely to Google you. It is important to show an online presence in today's literary world, as this is where most of your readers are. With websites such as Wix or Square Space out there now, there is no excuse when it comes to an author website. You can build a professional, eye-catching site in a matter of minutes. If your site is poorly designed, written, or maintained... well, you know the drill.
Keep an eye out for more tips from the founder of European Geeks Publishing, Elisha Neubauer. You can reach Elisha through email, at firstname.lastname@example.org, on any of our social media accounts, or by leaving a comment below. Happy writing!