On Queries and Proposals: How To Get an Ooligan Editor to Read Your Submission

We’re two months in as the new acquisitions managers/editors, and we’ve been immersed with submissions in our inbox. Unfortunately, most of those queries haven’t fit within our submission guidelines. But every once in a while we open our email to find a query that gets us excited. We decided to sit down and share a few things that catch our attention in potential queries.

MAEKO: Submissions that fall under the categories Ooligan Press actually publishes. Nothing makes us happier than to see a query submission for a manuscript that falls under the types of books we seek to publish. That’s not to say it will become an automatic request for a proposal, but it’s important for us to know that you’ve thoughtfully looked at our submission guidelines before sending an email. We know that your manuscript is precious, like a child or well-loved pet, so by doing research about a publishing company prior to sending a query, your chances of getting a response are that much greater. Sending queries that fall outside of our guidelines will result in disappointment on both your end and ours.

VI: A strong, well-thought-out cover letter. Cover letters are like handshakes: the most important formality in a new business relationship, and the first impression we have of you as a person and a professional. And like handshakes, cover letters can be either strong, warm, and authoritative—or floppy, damp, and noncommittal. Here at Ooligan, we value potential authors who know the facts, have given them serious consideration, and can articulate them clearly. What is your target audience? What kind of marketing potential does your book have? What credentials do you possess that make you the perfect person to write this book? Answering these kinds of questions in a friendly, professional way will increase your chances of having your proposal requested. (And please, double-check for typos! Believe me, we will notice.)

MAEKO: Submissions that strive to represent the diversity of the Pacific Northwest. As our guidelines state, “We recognize the importance of diversity, particularly within the publishing industry, and are committed to building a literary community that includes traditionally underrepresented voices.” We hope that during our stint as the acquisitions managers this year, we will see more manuscripts that seek to represent diverse voices. We want our backlist to grow and create conversation about important issues that are happening in the Pacific Northwest, which ultimately reflect what might be happening in the world. A few of our more recent titles, like Memories Flow in Our Veins and Untangling the Knot, represent those marginalized voices, and we are eager to expand that diversity even further.

VI: When submitting a proposal that includes consecutive chapters from the beginning of the book. Maybe your favorite moment in your manuscript takes place on page 125, or your most vibrant character walks into the story during chapter seven. But as acquisitions editors, our goal is to try and replicate what a reader might experience upon opening your book to the first page. Sending us anything other than the beginning of your book through the first fifty or so pages will make it difficult for us to accurately gauge the potential quality or readability of your book. We might be able to tell you’re a great writer, but we are looking for more than just how well you put words together. We need to know you can introduce new characters, set the stage, hit plot points at a good pace, etc. This kind of information is only portrayed if we get to start at the beginning and follow it all the way through.

These are just a few of the things an acquisitions editor at Ooligan has to consider when looking at a new query or proposal. Making sure you check these suggestions off the list before submitting to us will greatly increase your chances of piquing our interest. So get out there and start composing the perfect query—we look forward to reading your submission!

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