How to Submit Your Manuscript to an Electronic Publisher



 by Carla Ledbetter

 Until a few months ago, much of the reading public hadn’t even heard of electronic books, much less read one.  However, once the news about an upcoming release of one of Stephen King’s books in electronic format was announced, a huge spotlight was suddenly thrust upon the world of electronic publishing.  Readers all over the world immediately sat up and took note of this little-known publishing venue.  It was ironic that, in a matter of a few days, everything that electronic publishers had been steadily working toward for years suddenly gelled.  The shining hour of electronic publishing had finally arrived  -- and most electronic publishers weren’t about to let it pass them by!

Electronic publishing is the wave of the future, for a number of reasons.  First, electronic books are sold over the Internet, which is accessed by millions of people every day.  These books can either be read on computers or downloaded onto a variety of hand-held reading devices.  Electronic books cost less than paperbacks and offer a variety of talented authors.  And, most importantly, electronic books are available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.  It doesn’t matter if it’s two o’clock in the morning, or two o’clock in the afternoon.  Once your credit card transaction is completed, you have IMMEDIATE access to your book!

The number of electronic publishes seeking manuscripts from writers over the Internet has increased dramatically in the past three years.  (If you type “Electronic Publishers” in the selection box for any search engine, you should be able to find the most current list of electronic publishers and their web site links).   Most of these lists give you the name of the electronic publisher, what type of genre they carry, and a direct link to their web page.

The steps for submitting a novel to electronic publishers are very similar to the submittal process for traditional publishers.  First you send a query letter and wait for their response.  If you get an invitation to submit your manuscript, you send your manuscript file electronically to them.  It normally takes between one to three months after you submit your manuscript to an electronic publisher to learn whether or not they are going to offer a contract.

One of the major advantages of electronic publishing is that, in addition to receiving a higher royalty percentage, an author’s work is released for sale almost as soon as the contract is signed (depending however, on the amount of final editing that must be completed).  The author doesn’t have to wait from six to sixteen months for their novel to be released for sale.

Barnes & Noble publishes a “Best Seller List” for electronic books, based on genre.  To access the list, you go to their web site and select “Advanced Search”.  The next step is to go to the four drop-down boxes in the center of the page.  You need to select the two drop-down boxes on the right.  Select “electronic book” in the upper box, and then select the category you are interested in on the lower box (i.e. Horror and Suspense, Romance, etc.).  A current list of electronic best sellers will appear on your screen (usually from one to four pages long).   This list is updated frequently, and book rankings can change on a daily basis.

Just because your book is first offered for sale electronically doesn’t mean that you forfeit the chance of having your novel printed in paperback.  If sales for your electronic book are doing very well, some electronic publishers will offer a separate paperback contract to “complement” the electronic sales of your novel.  Because most electronic books are professionally edited and the covers are professionally designed, the move from electronic book to paperback book is very easy to accomplish.  Electronic books are already formatted to look exactly like a paperback book on your computer screen, so the only thing a publisher needs to do is format the file to fit the selected printer’s requirements and submit it to the printer!  A lot of publishers are going the route of “Print On Demand” publishing to defer costs, so this means that fewer books will be printed on your first release, but it also means that the majority of them will already be sold before they’ve even hit the bookstores, so that is actually good news!


The main steps to remember in submitting a manuscript to an electronic publisher are:

            Make sure your manuscript is ready to be submitted (it must be edited for content as well as grammar)  Remember to run “Spell Check” one last time !

            Do your research  — make sure the electronic publisher you select is actually looking for your story genre, and make sure you follow their submission guidelines to the letter.  Check their web site, and if you have any questions about submission requirements, send them an e-mail.  You should receive a response within a few days

            If you haven’t already done so, you might want to fill out the paperwork to copyright your manuscript.  It will help to protect your work in case of a lawsuit. The US Copyright web page can be found at :      This web site is very informative, easy to read, and will answer all your questions about the copyright process, including the current cost ($30.00).

            Draft a query letter and send it to the electronic publisher.  Many of them are very prompt about sending replies.  If you don’t hear back in a week or so, send them a short but polite e-mail asking if they got your query letter

            If they send you a positive response, follow their instructions and be patient. This is the hardest part.  If you haven’t heard anything back in three months, send them a short but polite e-mail asking if they’ve had a chance to review your work.  You should get a response from them indicating how long it will be until they read your manuscript

            If you are lucky enough to be offered a publishing contract, read it carefully.  This is your only chance to negotiate for what you want, so take your time.  You might want to have someone who’s familiar with publishing contracts take a look at it.  Most electronic publishing contracts are pretty standard, but it pays to be prudent in this type of negotiation, and different publishers offer different royalty percentages.  Is your royalty percentage close to the average amount generally offered?  If not, ask why


Once you’ve signed the contract, you need to work with your publisher on any final editing they want done to your manuscript.  Remember, they are on your side, and only want to make your book the best it can possibly be.  You are the author and it is your work, but -- at the very least -- please listen to their suggestions with an open mind

Your publisher will probably give you at least two professionally done covers for your book and ask your opinion.  Take your time and pick the one you like

Work with your publisher in promoting your book.  The key thing to remember is that the more people who know about your book, the more chances you have of making sales.  If you have any ideas for promoting your book, let your publisher know and they will work with you to help market your book in as many ways as possible

Enjoy !  You’ve made it !  Congratulations !

About the Author:

Carla Ledbetter is the author of Blue Moon. Since its release two months ago, the book has owned a position on the Barnes & Noble ebook bestseller list. It has proven itself a worthy contender in both the suspense and romance categories, at times surpassing the rankings of Stephen King and Mary Higgins Clark.

Blue Moon has also been published in paperback by DLSIJ Press. $16.95. Available in local bookstore or call 800-937-8000 or click here.