by John Vonhof
Manuscript Retrieval Coordinator
One of the benefits of attending the Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference is the opportunity to submit manuscripts for review by faculty. You may submit two manuscripts, pre-conference, by following the guidelines on the conference website. In this blog post, I’ll summarize the process.
Pre-Conference Manuscript Submission Guidelines
You have several options. You can request an editorial review (not a critique) by an editor or agent as a possible match for their needs or you can request a critique by a professional writer. You may submit one or two manuscripts – one for a review and one for a critique, or both for one or the other. Not sure which to do? Here’s help.
- Critique – If you primarily want an honest evaluation of your writing, its marketability, and to learn how you can sharpen your writing. You may receive a line-by-line critique of three to five pages, some general editorial pointers, and sometimes direction on places where you might submit the manuscript for publication.
- Editorial Review – If you want to discover if a publishing house or magazine would be interested in publishing your manuscript or if an agent might like to represent you, request an editorial review.
- A manuscript for pre-submission consists of:
- One article or short story (1800 word maximum)
- One article query, with outline (3 pages maximum)
- One book proposal. Please do not send complete books.
- Up to three devotionals or fillers (250–400 words each, maximum)
- No more than three poems (24-line maximum each)
- Manuscripts are limited to 10 pages plus the other components (a cover or query letter, a book proposal, a 1 or 2-page outline for nonfiction or synopses for fiction, etc.).
Complete details are on the conference website. Here’s a direct link to the page with submission guidelines. It’s important to read the instructions for submitting manuscripts.
- Manuscripts should be typed, with your name on each page.
- Your manuscript should be double-spaced and single-sided. Other parts of your of your submission package may be single-spaced.
- Manuscripts must be original (your work) and unpublished.
- The Pre-Conference Manuscript Submission Form must accompany your package.
- Submissions must be received by Monday, April 3.
What to Include
It’s helpful to understand the different parts of what you may submit. Use this link to learn about query letters, book proposals, and the fiction and nonfiction components of each.
If you are unsure how to write a query letter or book proposal, you are encouraged to check out any of the books available about proposals. My favorite book is Ryan G. Van Cleave’s The Weekend Book Proposal: How to Write a Winning Proposal in 48 Hours and Sell Your Book. It includes fiction and nonfiction proposal examples, a chapter on query letters, and lots of tips on the different components of a successful proposal. You can also Google query letters and book proposals to see examples.
Make sure whatever you submit is your best work. Double-check everything for spelling and grammatical errors. If you are part of a critique group, have them review your proposal and manuscript.
Choosing Whom to Review or Critique Your Manuscripts
The Editorial Needs By Genre is an excellent resource to help you choose whom to send your submissions to. Use this list to learn what the editors and agents are looking for. For critiques, use the Critique Team information to learn how they can help and the team member page to see who is on the team. Once the conference has started, the Manuscript Retrieval Team can help you think about faculty to approach about your manuscript.
Digital Pre-Conference Manuscript Submissions
We are trying something new this year. Four faculty members have agreed to look at digital submissions:
- Andrea Doering (editorial reviews for Revell Books)
- Susan King (editorial reviews for The Upper Room)
- Sarah Rubio (editorial reviews for Tyndale)
- Cynthia Ruchti (critiques as a freelancer)
If you wish to submit to any of the four, please send your submission in a Word file to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your submissions must conform to the same guidelines as the print submissions. Include all of your submission in one file. Have each item start on a new page in the file. If you include a query letter or book proposal, please have them at the front of the file. Please name your file like this: NAME-Title.doc. Submissions must be received by Monday, April 3rd.
Your submission will be emailed before the conference starts to whomever of the four you designate. You will receive your file and comments back in digital form too, so please bring a USB thumb drive.
Packaging and Sending Your Manuscripts
The Advance Manuscript Guidelines page has detailed information on submissions and the Pre-Conference Manuscript Submission Form that you need to print and fill out. It needs to be sent with your manuscripts. For each manuscript submitted, you need to fill in your: name, title of manuscript, email, cell number, circle the type of manuscript, check either critique or editorial review and by whom, and add any comments. Make sure you read and follow the instructions on how to package and send your manuscripts. Be sure to check the appropriate box on the manuscript submission form—Critique by a Published Author or an Editorial Review.
Each manuscript must be in a 9×12 manila envelope with the submission form taped to the top front side. Do not seal the envelope. If the envelope has a metal clasp, please tape over it and do not use it. Manuscript pages should not be stapled, clipped, or bound.
Make sure you do not send your only copies of your manuscript. Either print an extra copy and bring it in a folder or bring your files on a USB thumb drive. The Hospitality Center can make copies from either source as needed for a nominal fee.
If you hope to submit manuscripts to additional faculty at the conference, please bring a few extra 9×12 manila envelopes.
Deadline for Pre-Conference Submissions
All pre-conference submissions must be received at the conference center by Monday, April 3. Make sure your manuscripts are mailed early enough to make the deadline.
When You’ll Get Your Manuscripts Back
Saturday after lunch is the first opportunity to pick-up any manuscripts the faculty has returned. Others are returned after that, depending on faculty’s timing. Depending on what you submitted, and to whom, there will be a form inside the envelope providing feedback on your submission, whether the faculty member wishes to meet with you, or suggestions on other places to submit.
Submissions After the Conference has Started
Once the conference has started, you may talk to a faculty member who asks to see your manuscript. Request a signed form from the faculty member and process your manuscript through the Manuscript Retrieval system in the Hospitality Center. The Manuscript Retrieval Team will get the manuscript to the faculty member. The faculty’s first obligation is to those who submitted pre-conference submissions.
All manuscripts must go through the Manuscript Retrieval System for tracking. Please do not hand your manuscript to an editor for review. Likewise, do not allow an editor to hand you your manuscript if it has not been checked back in through the system.
The Manuscript Retrieval Team
The Manuscript Retrieval Team, located in the Hospitality Center, is eager to help you with your manuscript questions. The team can look over your manuscript, query letter and book proposal, help you practice your pitch, and help with ideas on faculty that you might talk to about your manuscript. We’d also be happy to answer any questions you may have about the manuscript process.