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Submission Services For Writers: Poems, Short Stories, Novels, Books, Essays

Submission services promise to get writers the help they need to submit to literary agents and editors. As with most things, some literary submission services are legitimate, efficient, and respectable, and some take advantage of unsuspecting writers.

Writer’s Relief is an established literary submission service that has been helping writers submit their work to literary agents and editors since 1994. We also track submissions, write cover and query letters, proofread and implement corrections, format manuscript submission pages, advise if tricky issues arise (via our trained submission strategists), and much more.

We take great care in our targeting and research. Most of our business is based on referrals—writers frequently recommend our assistance to other writers. Our system works.

But there are submission services out there that don’t work. Here are a few things to look for when you’re considering working with an author’s submission service.

Query Spam

Some submission services take the approach of “spamming” literary agents and editors, based on the theory that it’s more effective to submit to everyone rather than submit to the right people.

While it sounds lovely to sit back and have your query “blasted” across the country, this method gives us cause for concern.

1. “Query spam” services mostly rely on email, which eliminates a large percentage of editors and literary agents who request paper submissions. (At Writer’s Relief, we target via a mix of mail and email.)

2. Mass emailings are often identified as spam and immediately relegated to the junk mail folder: in other words, spam doesn’t get read. Writers end up wasting their time and money.

Factory-Style Submissions

Some submission services do not pay personal attention to each client—and as you know, everyone’s writing is different and should be handled on an individual basis. Cookie-cutter queries are causing serious annoyance in the publishing world.

At Writer’s Relief, we understand that each of our clients is unique. Query and cover letters are created in close collaboration with each individual client. Be certain that the submission service you choose respects and appreciates your work.

One indication that a submission service takes a one-size-fits-all approach is a willingness to take on any and all writers. If a submission service truly cares about its professional reputation, it will need to reject certain submissions simply because not all writing is suitable or appropriate for submission (for example, what on earth would a publisher do with a 550,000-word book?).

If there’s no screening in place or no consulting offered for submissions that are subpar, then steer clear. At Writer’s Relief, authors who wish to enter our Full Service client list must first receive Review Board approval. About 80% of writers are turned away, and there is usually a waiting list of writers hoping to use our services.

Shoddy Targeting and Research

Be sure your submission service offers you the best targeting. Relying on a single market book for research isn’t enough.

At Writer’s Relief, here’s how we research and target. First, we cross-check every single market book out there to avoid the errors that arise from dated or inaccurate materials. Then, we confirm submission guidelines with the agent or editor in question by referencing the appropriate homepages and other sources.

Finally, because we’ve been tracking agent and editor responses since 1994, we have lots of information that isn’t available to the general public. If an agent notes, “I don’t like books in first person” on a rejection letter, we make that note in our database. Nobody else has been tracking feedback as closely as we have since 1994.

Submit to Review Board

If in doubt, keep the following points in mind when comparing submission services:

Avoid services that keep you out of the loop. Your work should be submitted in your name, not the service’s.

Find out about clientele. While Writer’s Relief doesn’t release all of our clients’ amazing accomplishments, you can find some here: Client News.

Check references and testimonials. Does the service provide a list of satisfied clients with publication credits that you can confirm? Does the staff have writing or publishing experience? Resumes and testimonials should be accessible to any prospective clients. (Wanna see our testimonials? We’re very proud! There are literally thousands!)

Get specific fee information up front and in writing. (It’s a bad sign if this information is not made public or is hidden.)

Assess the quality of editing services, if offered. Find out how stringent the qualifications for proofreading or editing are for this company. Our proofreaders are top of the line!

Avoid fancy “extras” like cover mock-ups or 8 x 10 glossies of you by the pool. Editors have enough to sort through without fancy binders and clippings and photos.

And lastly, get a feel for the level of personal service. If you call, does someone answer the phone (or do you get a call back)? Are you treated well and your questions answered courteously and promptly? Or are you ignored? Given the runaround? Writing is a highly personal endeavor, and the people handling your work should be sensitive and caring enough to treat it as such.

Want to get to know Writer’s Relief? We strive for transparency: The Real Scoop on Writer’s Relief.

In general, there are no shortcuts in the publishing business. And there’s no way to bypass the hard work and devotion required to be a good writer. But there are some legitimate services that help take some of the frustration out of the process and free up a little time for creativity.

Writer’s Relief is here to do just that. Our database of editors and agents is constantly being updated so that your work is targeted to the people most likely to accept it. Our fees are up front on our website, and our clients have full control over the level of service they want to pay for, which can include record keeping, personal databases, and itemized expense lists for tax purposes.

And yes, all these things you certainly could do for yourself. Our clients are quite capable of writing a powerful query letter and researching the market for themselves—but they relish the opportunity to devote more time to their writing, while we take care of the details. If you want to be a client of our submission service, call today!

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