I’m the acquisitions editor for two small presses – one specialized in short stories, and another specialized in children’s books. Only one of them is open for submissions at the moment, but the other one was open for a brief while, and got a buckload of submissions. The quality – or lack of quality – of some of those submissions was surprising.
I’m an author too, and I’ve send my fair share of query letters. Never once have I thought to submit that first draft I just finished, or to write my query letter in ten minutes and then click the “send” button.
Apparently I’m part of a small percentage, because most of the queries I read in the slush pile were barely readable, riddled with grammar and spelling errors, and even some glaring continuity errors on the first page.
Do these authors have a good story? I don’t know, I couldn’t stomach to look past the errors. They annoyed me so much that I could barely read through their query.
Make sure your manuscript is polished before you send it to a publisher. I don’t expect it to be completely free of errors, but at least make sure you don’t have errors in every single paragraph. Send your work to critique partners and betareaders. Use spellcheck. Have your friends read it over once more, to make sure there are no glaring errors. Proofread it yourself, before sending it out to a publisher.
Because trust me, even if you have written the next bestseller that makes the Harry Potter series pale in comparison, the acquisition editor will never notice if you send them a manuscript riddled with errors.