Coffee Time with Kara: Submission Guidelines, Part I


Good morning! Coffee Time with Kara is a new, weekly feature here on the blog where I–Kara Leigh Miller, Editorial Director for Anaiah Press–will share tips, tricks, and secrets about writing, querying, publishing, and everything in between. So, grab your cup of coffee and get comfy…

Today, I want to talk about submission guidelines–specifically what items are needed and how you submit to a publisher / agent. If you’re a querying author, you’ve probably heard time and time again that you should research and follow submission guidelines. I’m here to loudly echo that advice.

Always follow submission guidelines!

Now, I’m an author, too, and I get how time consuming this can be. Every publisher and agent has different guidelines–they want different items, some attached / some pasted, all formatted to different specifications. By the time you’re finished, you have a million documents saved and labeled and formatted for various publishers / agents. You’re left wondering: Why can’t I just send the same thing to everyone?

Would that be easier? Sure. But that’s not how this business works, and every publisher / agent has those guidelines in place for a reason. I can’t (and won’t) speak on behalf of anyone else, but here at Anaiah, our guidelines are simple: query letter and first 10 pages pasted into the body of an email. We do it this way for a few reasons:

  1. We don’t open unsolicited attachments for fear of viruses, corrupted files, etc.
  2. We want to know we’re dealing with a real person with a working email. Allowing us to send a reply and request a partial or full gives us the chance to ensure everything is working and to get more of an idea of how you interact with us. Besides, don’t you want the rush of excitement that comes from getting a request?
  3. We are all very busy, and we simply don’t have time to read every manuscript that comes our way. Giving us a pitch and small sample of your writing is enough for us to know if we want to see more.
  4. We share submissions here–a lot. We’re always passing them around, ensuring promising queries are seen by all appropriate editors. It’s much easier to pass around a single email rather than a full manuscript.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret… If you follow submission guidelines, you’re already ahead of the majority. On average, I get at least half a dozen queries every week that don’t follow our submission guidelines.

And now, it’s time for an editorial confession: In the past, I used to reply and direct the author to our guidelines and ask them to resubmit accordingly. Now that Anaiah is growing and our submissions are increasing daily, I simply don’t have time to do that anymore. So, if I get a query that doesn’t follow guidelines, I reject it unread.

Is that harsh? Yes, probably.

Do I like to do that? No. I hate sending rejections–it’s the worst part of my job. But it’s your job to not give me a “simple” reason to say no.

So please, I beg you, follow guidelines. It’s not hard, and it shows you’ve taken the time to research what we want, that you can follow simple instructions, and that you respect our time.

Be sure to come back next Monday when I’ll be talking about submission guidelines in terms of content and submitting books that fit your chosen publisher / agent. In the meantime, if you have any questions or have a topic you want me to address, leave it in the comments.

Keep on writing 🙂

~ Kara

Find out more about Anaiah Press at:


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