Blog 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Submitting Your Writing to Publishers Publishing veteran and former Head Buyer for Waterstones, Scott Pack, brings his Guardian Masterclass, How to Perfect Your Submission for Publishers, to the Woking Literary Festival on 29 April 2019. Here he is to give us a teaser of what's to come by sharing some of the common mistakes writers make when submitting their work to publishers. We'll let the expert take the reins on this one! I reckon about two-thirds of the submissions I am sent by authors have something seriously wrong with them, and they are often rejected as a result. My class at the festival is designed to ensure you don't fall into that group and, ahead of the event, here are the top five most common mistakes writers make when submitting their work. Lack of Research If you have written a memoir, why send it to an agent who only represents fiction? If your work of genius is a novel, it is a waste of time sending it to a non-fiction editor. This stuff may sound obvious, but poor research is probably the number one reason authors have their submissions rejected. I go into great detail on how to conduct the right sort of research, and how to identify the right agent for you, in my class but a good place to start is by visiting an agent's website and finding out what they say they are looking for. This isn't a hard thing to do, so why do so many aspiring authors fail to do it? Not Following Guidelines And when you do submit to your agent of choice, it is important that you follow any guidelines they have set out. The chances are that they want some sort of cover letter, a synopsis of your book and some sample chapters, and they may well have specific font and layout requirements. Whatever they are asking for will be clear from their website, and ignore these requests at your peril. Not Being Ready Most of the manuscripts I am sent are a few drafts away from being good enough to submit. For goodness sake, do not start submitting when you only have a first draft on your hands! Most books will need several drafts and rewrites before they are good enough to share with anyone, let alone an agent. Make your book as good as it can be before sending it out. A Poor Synopsis Writing a good synopsis is hard, and agents and publishers know that so they aren't expecting perfection, but it is important that your synopsis is a clear and concise (500 words is usually more than enough) summary of your book's plot. Impatience It may take an agent a couple of months to respond to your submission and a surefire way to get on their nerves is to chase them up after just a week or two. Be patient. Take up a new hobby. Start binge-watching lots of box sets. Do something to distract you while you wait. There is a lot more to my class than just avoiding these mistakes, but hopefully they give you an idea of how to avoid the most common pitfalls. I look forward to sharing lots more with you at Woking Literary Festival soon. Book your place on the Guardian Masterclass. You can follow Scott on Twitter at @meandmybigmouth.