A Pre-Submission Checklist

We’ve been talking a lot about story submissions, but we never really stopped to discuss all the things you need to consider in general terms. I thought it might be nice to provide you with a checklist so you have no questions about whether your T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted. Print out this list or bookmark this post and refer back to it before you contact a publisher.

Pre-Publishing Checklist

  Create your elevator pitch. (Doing this first helps you with your focus.)

  Compose back cover copy. (Doing this second can keep you on track.)

  Write a hook.

 Only hit the highlights.

 Do not reveal the ending.

 Outline the story.

 Write the very best book you’re capable of.

 Spell check and grammar check.

 Share your work with your critique partners.

 Incorporate their feedback.

 Revise for submission.

 Write the query letter, adhering to the publisher’s guidelines.

 Address your query to the right person, confirming spelling and title.

 Use a 3-paragraph format (greeting, book content, author bio and contact info).

 Use professional tone, but one that is in keeping with the tone of the story.

 Craft your synopsis. (This is the next thing a publisher will ask for.)

 Only use the main characters.

 Do not omit the climax and resolution.

Remember, publishers are busy and receive many submissions a month, so don’t be disheartened if you don’t hear back right away. But if you follow the list, your chances will increase. Best wishes!

Staci Troilo

About Staci Troilo

Writer. Editor. Marketing consultant. Publisher.


  1. I copied your list as a reminder. I like writing a short tight synopsis, but hate doing the summary. It’s like writing a short story. In fact I sold a short story which could have been a summary and years later became a book. Thanks Staci.

  2. Pingback: Author Inspiration and This Week’s Writing Links | Staci Troilo

  3. Excellent checklist, Staci. And I agree with Joan. I’m not too bad with blurbs, but I dread the synopsis!

  4. Great tips, Staci. In my opinion, writing the back cover, blurb, and synopsis is harder than writing the book.

    • Thanks, Joan. Those marketing tools can be hard for fiction writers to craft. It takes practice and patience. The good news is, they get easier. Just think how good you’ll be at novel 20!

  5. Great tips for all authors.

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