Only a couple of months ago I compiled a list of publishers to query. I made up a spreadsheet with details such as contact details, whether they accept e-mail or postal submissions and a link to their submission guidelines pages.
Today as I was polishing up a query letter to send out to one of the publishers I thought I should double-check their submission guidelines. I’m so glad I did, because some of their guidelines had changed drastically since my last visit. Their biggest change: previously they only accepted postal submissions, now they only accept e-mail submissions (postal submissions are now ignored). Imagine if I had simply gone by the details I had saved only few months ago – I would have been prepared to send my submission by post.
On double-checking another publisher’s guidelines I noted they are no longer accepting unsolicited submissions. If I hadn’t checked, I would have sent my submission and it would have been a waste.
The lesson here is to ALWAYS double-check the submission guidelines before you send, even if you think you know them already. Guidelines change, submissions close or open and editors/agents may leave. Yesterday the guidelines may have said to post your letter with your first three chapters to Paul Newton, but today the guidelines may say to e-mail your letter with a synopsis to Lisa Simpson or submissions are now closed until June.
And if you’re the kind of person to keep a spreadsheet or Word document with publisher details, make sure you update it regularly (and still double-check the publisher/agent’s website before you send).