Final Checklist before Submitting

By Allison Carroll

Congratulations on surviving—and thriving—for another fantastic week of So You Think You Can Write. It’s time to cross that finish line and submit your manuscript!

But first, let’s make sure you’ve covered all your bases.

You’ve revised and polished your manuscript. You’ve done your research and targeted the perfect line for your work. And somewhere in the midst of all that, you’ve started planning or perhaps even launched your awesome, easy-to-use and informative author website.

Now it’s time for the gift wrap—very simple and no-frills gift wrap. Presentation matters, folks. Here’s a handy checklist to help you with formatting your cover letter and manuscript.

  • Contact information, including a valid email address.
  • Clearly stated title, word count and subgenre.
  • Brief summary of your book, focusing on hooks, internal and external conflicts, the plot and the emotional arcs of your characters. While you want to intrigue the editor, you should not use back cover copy in your cover letter. You want to be more specific and explicit than that.
  • Relevant bio information such as RWA membership, contest wins, other publishing credits, etc. If you don’t have such credentials, that’s ok! Do not use page space explaining that.
  • Clearly labeled cover letter, synopsis and manuscript. If you are submitting electronically, save each as individual docs or have one flow in to the other in one document with clear markers for each.
  • Use a standard font, font size, margins and line spacing.
  • Submit electronically. It’s free and the editor receives your submission instantly!

If you can check off these simple but important items, you will have the makings of a professional submission. You might be a fantastic storyteller, but that won’t matter if you make a poor first impression with the content of your cover letter and the presentation of your submission.

Still have questions? Check out the Live Chat on the DOs and DON’Ts of Submitting, today at 1:00pm EST.

11 replies on “Final Checklist before Submitting”

I was under the impression we only needed a 100-word pitch along with the first chapter.Do we need a synopsis too or are these items things we need if chosen to submit the ms? Thank you Allison!

Theresa and I are pretty much on the same page. I was understanding that the Synopsis was the 100-word pitch. Are we now to submit a cover letter involving the bio? Is it possible that a new post or blog can outline all that should be included in the first chapter entry for the SYTYCW2013 contest? Or if it already has been posted can someone post the link? Much confusion going on for me, a brand newbie!

Hi Theresa and Julie,
Good question! These tips are for submitting a completed ms, both to SYTYCW and to Harlequin in general. I’m sorry for any confusion!

Thank you, Allison, for clarifying that. It would be nice to see exactly what we need to do when we submit the completed MS for SYTYCW (forward thinking) so we are prepared early for that.

Thank you in advance

I uploaded the first chapter of my manuscript. but the formatting I had all set out for it… didn’t follow and now it is a blur and I can’t fix it! Do you think it will effect the reading of the chapter? I hope not.

I haven’t had a confirmation that my entry was successfully submitted. I have two email addresses; the former and this . The latter will be chnging soon. I checked where it said to when one doesn’t get a confirmation but still no confirmation. What do i do now?

I’m also concerned that my entry doesn’t look the same as what I submitted. It is single spaced but I sent it in double spaced. Is that ok?

@Kathy — It is normal for the spacing to change to single, the form re-formats the chapters for the web. If you still haven’t received your confirmation email, please email sytycwhelp @ harlequin . ca with your name and the title of your submission.

@Jessica — Not to worry if there are some formatting issues with your entry. The editors are looking for a good story & writing and that will shine through anyway 🙂

@Starry — For Harlequin, please see our writing guidelines at for what each of our lines publishes and is looking to acquire.

I wrote a series of 5 books in a series called Lindsay and I got the first Lindsay self-published from Xlibiris but I do not want to go that route now-I would like to submit the second book in Lindsay Finds Love but I did not know if the book is accepted if they could possibly re-publish Lindsay book 1? Do you need a table of contents an a summary and a cover letter?

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