20 Tips for Selling Your Novel, Part Three: Getting it Out There

Every submission matters — but no submission is precious

David Valdes
5 min readNov 26, 2021


Photo: Anthony Shkraba for Pexels

Once your draft is polished and ready to go, you need champions to bring your publishing dreams to fruition.

11. Do your homework on agents and publishers

Just about the most self-defeating thing you can do is to submit blind to agents (or publishers) simply because you’re excited to have a book ready. Why waste your time and theirs by sending a cold submission to an agent or editor who has never signaled that they will read unsolicited work? It is easy enough to find out who is looking for work and what they are looking for. At the same time, you should be reading up on them to see if they are good fit for you; check out their track record with work like yours.

Your best bet for traditional publishing is to get an agent first. It’s not effortless but it will give you help with opening doors and with negotiating contracts once you do. You’ll need to sleuth out not only who to pitch but when. These days, Twitter is a major literary matchmaker, home to pitch events (think speed dating for authors, agents, and some editors). The hashtag #mswl (and its website) will often let you know which agents are accepting what in a given moment. And you can also follow an agent’s (or publisher’s) feed to see when they’re open.

Before you reach out, you need to know three things: 1) if they are accepting new clients; 2) what kind of material they rep; 3) what they want to see as a sample. If they are taking on new authors and you write the kind of work they sell (and only if both those statements are true), then send exactly what they ask for. If they say 10 pages, don’t send 30; if they say three chapters, don’t send one. (The same applies if you are pitching an editor that accepts unsolicited work.)

12. Prepare to pitch

In Hollywood, a logline is that one-sentence slogan — often in an x meets y form — that distills a story to its essence. (I sold my latest book with rhe logline “ it’s Back to the Future meets Love Simon.”) Loglines get joked about for being formulaic, but coming up with one is a great exercise in focus; writers need to be able…



David Valdes

David Valdes is a Cuban-American author who writes about family, race, and LGBTQ issues. His book Brighter than the Moon releases in January 2023.