Submitting Your Picture Book Manuscript by Jean E. Karl

The first step in sending your manuscript is making sure it is in the best possible physical shape for sending. Check over your last draft. Examine the punctuation and the spelling. Look at the quality of the typing. Does it need to be typed again? Your manuscript should be typed double-spaced, or even perhaps triple-spaced. You need not (and even should not) type what you think of as separate pages on separate sheets of paper. If you wish, you can leave extra space between the sections that you think of as separate pages, but the object of your presentation is to make the whole read as easily as possible. Many sheets of paper with only a little typing on each makes for more difficult reading at the publishing house, increasing the chance that the reader will not finish what you have done. Also, the more pages you have, the more it will cost you to send the manuscript out and the larger the envelope you will need. Number the pages and put your name either at the upper left or the upper right on each page, so that every page can be identified as coming from your manuscript. The first page of the manuscript or the title page, if you make one, should include your name and address. Whether you include a title page or not depends on the length of the manuscript. A title page for a two-page manuscript seems a little foolish, to say nothing of a title page for a one-page manuscript. But a manuscript of five or six pages can certainly have a separate title page. Try to make all the pages as attractive and as blemish-free as possible.

Once your manuscript is typed in the form that you think best suits it, it is time to think about a cover letter. Your cover letter is the first thing a publisher’s reader will see, so it needs to be good. Unfortunately, many people, in my experience, seem to think that “good” means telling me everything they have ever done. This is not true. You do not need to tell an editor your whole life history. In fact, if you do, your letter will not be read. No editor, not even a first reader, has time for that. Yet, you should send a cover letter. It has always seemed to me that a manuscript received without a cover letter indicates a manuscript that the author does not care very much about; it is as if the author were sending a child off to school without telling the school that the child was coming.

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