Submission Package Review
Sending your manuscript to a literary agency can be a daunting prospect. Writers seeking representation often feel they don’t know where to begin.
When is the right time to start looking for a literary agent? Is there anything I can do to help my submission stand out? Are there any dos or don’ts I should be aware of? Will the agent even look at my manuscript… am I even likely to hear back at all?
There’s a common misconception that literary agents are too busy with existing projects to read through submissions. As experienced literary consultants, we have enough insight to know that the perceived image of the busy and unengaged agent is just a myth. Literary agents may be busy, but they will always have time for a manuscript they first love, and second feel they can turn into another success.
What is the Submission Package Review?
Developed and implemented in consultation with an experienced former literary agent assistant, our Submission Package Review is specifically designed for writers who are actively seeking literary representation. It gives you, the author, professional, industry-specific feedback on your query letter, synopsis and first 10,000 words of your manuscript. The goal is to provide you with something as close as possible to an agent’s perspective on your submission package, but also to make your submission compelling enough for the agent to request the full manuscript.
The Literary Studio reviewed my package of three children’s picture book texts with synopses and query letter. The review pulled apart the query letter and synopses, clearly setting out what literary agents look for in submissions and what was missing in mine. This covered basic information, information specific to each agent and tone. The review of the stories was especially helpful. Reading my stories after the adjustments that were recommended to text and pace was a pleasant surprise! The Literary Studio‘s review was clear, informative and encouraging and I recommend them to you.’
As a writer, you have an intimate understanding of your story, your characters and the universe they inhabit. This very understanding can act as a distraction when it comes to summarising for someone else the why, the who, the what and the how of your book.
Providing an overview of your work that’s both clear and engaging can be trickier than it seems, especially when you have so much to say. This can result in submissions that are overly lengthy, needlessly confusing, or that generally don’t do justice to the manuscript.
In designing the Submission Package Review, we consulted closely with former literary agency assistant, Gabriella Docherty, to design, develop and implement the service in a way that aims to respond adequately to writers seeking representation. Holding a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing and an MPhil in Film and Screen Studies, Gabriella Docherty is also a former assistant to leading literary agents in both the Books and the Book-to-Film department of United Agents in London. Gabriella has not only a wealth of experience in managing unsolicited submissions, but also the skill to identify, restructure and refine promising work and pitch it further.
What’s included in the Submission Package Review?
The Submission Package Review includes a one-thousand-word critique of the three elements of the common type of submission packages: the query letter, the synopsis and the first 10,000 words of the manuscript. It applies a market-aware angle to assess the commercial appeal in the manuscript as a publishing proposal. It invites the author to pay close attention to what doesn’t quite work in their submission and offers constructive feedback on how to address the identified shortcomings.
While services such as a manuscript assessment provide an unparalleled level of in-depth editorial detail, with a side interest in marketability, the Submission Package Review takes a high-level view of the submission, an approach that combines both editorial and marketing feedback.
The method we apply in carrying out the review is that of a proportional focus on the three elements of the package: synopsis, cover letter and extract. This means that the editor will focus more on those elements that need more attention and less on those elements ready or closest to be ready for submission. Taking into account professional experience and feedback from clients, this approach offers the most value and has the highest impact on the improvement of the submission material. In practical terms, while the length of our reports will stay the same, i.e. a minimum of one thousand words, the sections of the report will vary in length depending on the needs of each element.
At the Literary Studio, we know how crucial submissions are when it comes to the success of a manuscript. As an author-centred consultancy, our focus is on helping the author from marketing themselves as an interesting person worth knowing about, to marketing their manuscript as a story worth reading.