So you’ve finally finished writing your urban fiction novel. You even took it a step further and had it edited (because you are serious about your craft) and now you’re thinking “Now What?” Do you give it a swing with a traditional urban publishing house or do you pay for self publishing? Decisions, decisions well before you even think about submitting to the big boys in urban publishing you first need to know what they expect from you. Every publishing house is different, which means they all have different requirements. Though they vary there is a few requirements that are standard practice with most of them. Below is a list along with explanation of each requirement and how not following one of them will surely get your manuscript thrown into the trash.

Query Letter

Most urban publishers and traditional publishing houses generally want a query letter. Query letters are formal introductions of you and your work, without this type of letter you are considered a solicitor. unsolicited work is equal to receiving a telemarketing call during dinner time, unwelcome. A great query letter will have your contact information (generally at the top left hand corner) include name, address, email address and best contact number. It should also include a brief intro stating who you are, if you have been previously published and a brief summary of your title. Your final paragraph should be brief explaining why you think their publishing house is a good fit for you. You’re a writer but please keep it brief it should never go beyond one page or you may lose your audience.

Sample Chapters

Sending sample chapters can be tricky and you should only send the recommended amount. Never and I do mean NEVER send your entire manuscript without being asked. I know, I know its great, awesome a pure masterpiece but it will never be read if you send it unsolicited. Generally speaking the first three chapters is acceptable, some companies may request five. Sample chapters can be included with a query letter. Sample chapters are the bait that will catch a big publishing opportunity. Your best work is done in those first three chapters because they have the power to determine if the reader will want more. If after reading the first three chapters the publisher isn’t interested you will either get a rejection letter or no letter at all. Try to eliminate any grammatical, spelling or tone errors in these three chapters. First impressions are usually lasting ones and its hard to do a comeback when someone has already made up their mind about you.

Synopsis 

For many of you new or first time authors a synopsis is a condensed version of your story. It tells the publisher beginning, middle and end of your story in two pages or less. It can be difficult to share the ending of your story when shopping around for a publisher but you must do it. One of the many complaints publishing companies have is that authors don’t want to give the ending of their story in fear of it being stolen. That or authors think they will be able to entice the publisher by giving them the beginning and middle but not the end. (A quick word from the wise, well ME don’t do it) Publishers are turned off or more politely annoyed with a synopsis that doesn’t give it away so to speak. Many urban fiction publishers don’t require a synopsis but be prepared if you find one that does.

Formatting

One of the most important urban fiction publishing requirements is formatting. Not following this step will provide your manuscript with a one way ticket to the garbage can. Standard formatting means Times New Roman, 12′ font size, double spaced one side of the paper. Margins should be 8.5 x 11 Microsoft word already sets that up for you but double-check before submitting your manuscript.

Word Count

I get a lot of questions about word count for urban fiction novels. 75,000 words generally adds up to about 256 pages which is standard for a fiction novel. First time authors should steer clear of writing anything over 80,000 words. To many words can work against you and not just because your audience may lose interest. Books longer than 80,000 words cost more money to put into print, which equals less money for you in the long run. Unless you are writing a novella you may also want your story to be more than 40,000 words. Having too few words can cause you to be overlooked also.

I hope this list was helpful and that it gets you on the right track for literary success.

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Comments
  1. Justin says:

    Some great instructions for authors pursuing publishing via traditional publishing houses! In order to avoid the “slush pile,” it’s so important to follow each publishers’ & lit agents’ submission guidelines…

  2. Thank you so much advise well needed I appreciate you.

  3. Great post, really loved it. You may be interested in this novel about witches

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