The best way to get published traditionally? Give editors what they want. Bottom line.
And what do editors want? They want a well written story, that requires minor editing AND which you deliver on time.
Authors have to face the fact, you get no more than five seconds (and that's stretching it) in that query letter to grab the editor. So no need to put the tasty morsels of your work in the third paragraph or on page two. It's got to be in-you-face or as the marketers call it, guerilla tactics, from the jump.
Once you pique their interest, your manuscript has got to be polished. Yes, editing costs, but not editing may cost you more. Use the latest technology (text-to-voice translation, speller checker) as well as a human editor and have your work spit-shined and honed to the best of your ability before you send it to your agent to shop.
A story an editor or their reader knows "flows" nicely and in which they actually "get" the message you are conveying the first time out of the gate has a better chance of being published than the I-like-it-but-it-needs-a-lot-of-work story. Time is money and the less time spent editing on their end, the quicker they can make money for both the writer and publishing house.
And always note your deadline. This needs to be every published authors mantra: Deliver what they asked for by the time asked for. A deadline is given for a reason and it's normally because: That's when they need your material in order to reach their next deadline in the production process. Let your reputation be for delivering on time.
Having done the self-published as well as traditional route, I would also have to say, putting your work out there gets you noticed. When I first queried agents, I stuck the self-published version of the work inside. They didn't have to guess what came after the first three chapters. It was there from beginning to ending.
Despite what many critics say, taking a chance on self-publishing has never been a downside for me. Heck, I've already got a product and track record so they can judge for themselves whether I've got the writing style they want.
In my opinion, the biggest secret is this bottom line is: Give the editors what they want.
Thanks for having me!
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