Guest Blog: Submission Tips from JMS Books

Today I am thrilled to welcome J.M. Snyder to the blog. J.M. owns JMS Books, and she is here to share some submission tips for authors.

1) Tell us a bit about yourself and your company.
I’m J.M. Snyder, and I’ve been writing and publishing LGBT romance since 1998, when I self-published my first book, Operation Starseed. Since then I’ve worked with a variety of e-publishers, but in 2010 a lot of my older stories were coming out of contract and I wanted a way to republish them. A friend suggested I start my own small press, and after I gave it a lot of thought, JMS Books was born.

2) What are the top things you look for in a manuscript?
If our decision-making process were a flowchart, the first yes/no choice is whether the story is the right genre for our particular niche market; i.e. is it an LGBTQ-positive romance with a happy ending? If it isn't, no matter how much we might like the story, we will decline because it will not sell in our market.

Let's assume the story is the right kind of story for us. Then we look for a well-written manuscript. It needn't be perfect, but we want to see the author spent time proofing and refining the work. This implies a good use of language and grammar and a story flow that is logical and well-paced.
After this, we will look deeper into the story, but those the first considerations.

3) What are the biggest turn-offs when you read a submission?

Unformatted, poorly punctuated text. Anything that makes it hard for us to read turns us off. No matter how good the story might be, if it's hard to read, we don't care and will not spend time trying to read it.
Otherwise, stories that are too short (under 12,000 words) or not LGBTQ+ romance. (We do consider such stories, but only from authors who already publish with us.) Stories that contain things we don’t publish, such as bestiality, gratuitous violence, erotica-only stories, and incest (a more comprehensive list is available on our site).

4) How can an author maximise their chance of acceptance?

Make sure your story is free of errors and as clean as possible—don’t send in a submission without reading and rereading it thoroughly. The story should grab us from the moment we start reading.
So take time to present your best work. Believe me, we can see when a first or second draft is submitted. The mere fact that the author did not respect themselves or us enough to present polished work, gives us pause. This includes email communication. Keep it short, to the point, and professional.

Follow the submission guidelines. If an author can't follow the submission instructions clearly stated on our website, we don’t have much confidence in how well he or she will collaborate with us on edits, blurbs, cover art, and marketing.