Need help submitting your writing to literary journals or book publishers/literary agents? Click here! →

Creative Writing Submissions Etiquette: Submitting To Literary Agents and Editors

Literary agents and editors are faced with mountains of fiction submissions on a daily basis. Creative writers know it’s tough to get their poetry, short fiction, and novels published, but there are things you can do to increase your chances of getting more acceptances. Knowing the etiquette of submitting your writing to literary agents, publishers, and editors of literary journals is key.

When submitting your fiction to agents or editors, always follow the submission guidelines to the letter for the specific literary agent or editor you’re approaching, or you risk losing the opportunity to have your work seriously considered.

At Writer’s Relief, we specialize in targeting your writing to the right markets. The following are a few pointers (based on our experience since 1994) that can help you avoid the slush pile.

** Do NOT bind your manuscript in any way (no staples or clips).
** Do NOT force a literary agent or editor to sign for your package, query letter, or any delivery. This is an inconvenience. First-class mail is fine.
** Do NOT send your only copy of your manuscript. Be certain you have another hard copy and a backup file or three.
** Do NOT annoy editors and agents by calling or e-mailing them to verify they received your package.

** DO include your SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope) with every submission. Send only a business-sized envelope (#10) with appropriate postage for a response.
** DO thoroughly research your markets. Check Web sites, market books, send for guidelines, or have a reputable submission service like Writer’s Relief do it for you. Avoid agents or editors who require “reading fees” or any up-front money.
** DO become familiar with submission terminology.
** DO your best to comply with requests from agents and editors. An agent or editor does not want to sign a contract with someone who is difficult to work with.

Learn more: How To Make Online Submissions To Literary Agents and Editors.

If you’re making submissions to literary agents and editors, the above etiquette tips can help you avoid embarrassing mistakes that just might take you out of the game before you’ve even started. Writer’s Relief can provide time-saving help in preparing your submissions, preparing professional query letters, and targeting the markets that are most likely to accept your work. For other useful tips of the trade, sign up for our FREE e-publication for writers.

One Response to Creative Writing Submissions Etiquette: Submitting To Literary Agents and Editors

  1. I have fallen in love with email submissions–they’re cheap, fast and can use all or few of the usual steps for submitting a manuscript. Think of saving all that postage you need when you submit an ms. by email!
    Some standards remain, however; and I would definitely go with submitting a cover letter that combines an attention-getting query and a brief bio of yourself. And always, always, proofread your work for correct grammar and to eliminate typos. They stick out even more in emails.
    Most editors I’ve had contact with by email are a lot more personable than the standard form letter you get when submitting in hard copy. And they seem more willing to talk to you about changes they want made in your ms if they accept it. Some will go so far as to cite line by line; others will just give yout their impressions.
    I think it’s a better relationship all in all, unless you become selected by one of the top 5 publishing houses in thes country!

Leave a reply

Learn More
Live Chat Software


This page was chock-full of great info...
and there's so much more here to help you meet your publishing goals!

Be sure to sign up for our FREE guides as you enter each site.

For advice, marketing ideas, and step-by-step guidance through the self-publishing process!

Featuring smart ways to boost your online presence, build your author website, or improve your existing website.

For everything you need to know about writing, preparing, and targeting submissions to literary agents and editors!

Free Publishing Leads and Tips

Our e-publication, Submit Write Now!, will be delivered weekly to your inbox.

Join the 50,000+ writers who receive:

  • FREE submission tips
  • Hot publishing leads
  • Calls to submit
  • And much more!

Close this popup

Sign up Today!

BONUS: Receive a free copy of formatting guidelines—our gift to you!

We promise not to share your information.