Before You Send Out Your Manuscript

Dear Writer,

If our previous post deterred you from submitting your manuscripts, read on:

Writing is an act of self-exploration and submitting your work to a publisher can be the scariest act of your life. As publishers, we are aware of this and sympathetic. In the event that we select your work for publication, we would do our very best to make the process pleasant for the writer.

However, to increase the chances of your manuscript being picked up by a publisher, we advise that you adhere to the rules of grammar, punctuation and submission.

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Before You Send Out Your Manuscript

Some mornings, we log into the submissions account and there are hundreds of emails waiting to be read, most of them with manuscript excerpts. Unfortunately, our request for more hours in a day hasn’t been granted (yet), so we can’t afford to waste any of the 24 we get. If you are a writer submitting your work to a publishing house, here’s how you can make our lives (and the lives of other editors and editorial assistants) easier.

Do Not Show Off

Contrary to what your friends and family members might have told you, you’re not the best writer since Shakespeare or Soyinka. But even if you are extremely talented, we won’t read your manuscript unless your email contains a synopsis of your novel and an excerpt of reasonable length (we suggest three chapters). We do not want to read a list of every award you’ve won since Primary School. We know every book we’ve published; don’t list them in your email or tell us that your work is better than those of seasoned authors. Allow us to judge that.

The moment we see emails like the one below, we know we won’t download or read the submission.

“If kachifo would like peharps, a demonstration, i would e-mail them my worst poem and they will be bewildered by beauty and admiration my stock of quality can give. I do not beg because i know writers like me would catapault the industry. My goal: to exceed Ngozi Adichi, ECHEBE, WOLE SOYINKA and to messure above SHAKESPARE and MILTON. Please e-mail me! (Sic)”

Do Not Send Your First Draft

Do as much work as you can in cleaning up your manuscript before sending it in. Does your story flow? If we can’t make sense of it, we won’t read past the first paragraph or chapter. Spell check! It doesn’t say much about your commitment to the written word if your manuscript is riddled with grammatical errors.

Send a Synopsis

Besides doing all the work you can on your manuscript, do even more on your synopsis – it often determines if your manuscript will be read or not. We rarely spend more than a minute on each email. In that minute, we read the synopsis and decide if we should download the manuscript excerpt or not. Do not send your manuscript without a synopsis, and do not send your synopsis without a manuscript. Both are important! And please, do not send a link to your blog, telling us to read your works there. We can, but we will not.

Obey Instructions

Often, submission guidelines request that you send in a synopsis, and attach an excerpt from your work to the email. Your synopsis can be sent in the body of the email (we prefer this), but do not send your sample chapters in the body of the email. We don’t have the time or inclination to copy text from the body of an email into a Word document for offline reading. If we can’t download the excerpt for offline reading, we’ll forget about it. Save your excerpt as a Microsoft Word document and send it as an attachment to the mail. However, do not assume this is all a publisher will ask for. Every publisher is different. Find out the guidelines of the publisher you want to send your manuscript to and follow the guide to the letter! If you will not dedicate time to reading and following the guidelines, the editor will not dedicate time to reading your work.

Copy Editor vs. Fairy God Editor

We are copy editors, not fairy god editors. There are no fairy god editors waiting in the wings, dedicated to turning ALL writers’ rags into fine cloth. We won’t edit your story and send it back to you “even if it won’t be published.” Also, it’s very unlikely that we’ll to send you an email when we are done reading your excerpt just to tell you what we didn’t like about it… jeez. There are simply too many submissions and like we said, there aren’t enough hours in the day.

So if you don’t get a response within 8 weeks, it means Kachifo will not be publishing your work under our Farafina imprint but we wish you all the best.

All the best!