A checklist of a few things we find unhelpful in proposals...
1. Proposal emails that don’t tell us enough about you. This is your chance to give us all relevant information about your self – experience, ambitions as a writer or illustrator, the nature of your work.
2. Proposal emails from writers without a three sentence synopsis of the proposed book at the head. This synopsis gives us a thumbnail sketch of what we are looking at – and it’s a pitch that may be useful to you as well.
3. Emails, letters or telephone calls that ask us whether we’re happy to read or look at work. We look at all proposals in our fields of interest. Send the work – don’t waste time with a query.
4. We ask for the first three chapters of books. Don’t send non-consecutive chapters, e.g. 1, 13 and 26. If you’re not confident in your earliest chapters, your manuscript is probably not ready – revise it and send it once you’re happy.
5. Submissions on CD, memory stick or in elaborate boxes arriving by post. Just keep it simple.
6. Proposals that are obviously carpet-bombing the whole of the Writers and Artists Year Book. We know you may approach a few agents but if it looks as if you’re approaching everyone in town, the delete button beckons.
7. An invitation to follow a chain of links to get to your work. One link to your online illustration portfolio is fine - but generally attachments to emails are the easiest for us to consider.
8. Proposals without your manuscript or samples attached. You’ve wowed us with your cover email, but then denied us the chance to read it.
9. We don’t mind if you forget to attach something to your email, but when you realise, please don’t just send us the missing document – resend the entire proposal but with an alert at the top to let us know to delete your earlier proposal. We get hundreds of proposals a week; this just makes it easier for us.