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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Submitting your manuscript

I was browsing around the blogosphere and found this older post from Day by Day Writer on when to submit your manuscript. I’ve been at this stage a few times with different approaches. I really like the third paragraph, which states the advice that agent Kate Schafer Testerman gives (kt Literary—takes YA and MG!)—scroll on down and give it a look.

It’s easy to get bogged down in revisions—after all, we’re told time and time again to make it as polished and shiny as possible before submitting. For me, that can lead to being overly paranoid, and I end up changing a paragraph five times, only to realize I liked the first version best. It can be overwhelming, but my method is:

1) Write first draft, making notes on a separate document of things to go back and improve/check for later (i.e.—give Character A more personality, create more tension, check for realistic dialogue). I don’t want to slow down momentum, so I usually just push through—still, if a plot point occurs to me, I just add it to my Suggestions/Corrections page and work through it later.

2) Go back and fill in any holes, utilizing the above-mentioned separate document.

3) Read-through and improve dialogue, check for grammar/spelling.

4) Solicit the help of a beta reader—at the same time, post first pages for feedback on sites like AW—lots of agents ask for the first 5-10 pages with a query, so it’s important to nail these.

5) Hopefully find beta #2 and #3 (even finding 2 is great though)

6) Take beta advice into account and apply to manuscript at your discretion.

7) Start querying and continue to tweak manuscript a little

8) Send out letter, and pay attention to rejections with letter only versus rejections with pages attached—consider changing opening or query based on rejection type.

9) Repeat step 8.

10) Repeat step 8.

Anyway, check out the post—I’ll list links to the agent advice she mentions on a side bar.

When to submit your manuscript-Day by Day Writer
March 22, 2010


This will definitely be my last revision before I submit, but the question of when to submit a manuscript, when to know it’s done, always leaves me a bit nervous. I submitted my first novel too early, then did a bit of a rewrite and submitted to new agents. Ultimately, although the book got lots of great feedback, it wasn’t as good as it should have been and it didn’t land an agent. I don’t want to make that mistake this time around, but how can I be sure when it’s ready?

There is advice on this out in the writing blogosphere, such as agent Mary Kole‘s post, agent Jessica Faust‘s post, and one from Omnific Publishing. They all talk about revising and revising, getting other writers that you trust to read it and give you notes, leave your manuscript for a month or so and look at it again. But after you’ve done all that, how do you know if it’s as perfect as it can be?

I like agent Kate Schafer Testerman‘s advice best: If you’re down to just tweaking, i.e. fixing word choices, etc., and the main story and characters are as good as they can be, then you’re ready to submit.

I’m at that point. I’ve fixed my story holes in previous revisions, fixed plot problems, made the characters stronger. I’ve also had the manuscript read by several beta readers and gone through the book with their notes. Now, I’m tweaking. I’m fixing word choices, making sentences stronger and paragraphs clearer. So, when I’m done with this round, I’ll start submitting.

Of course, there’s always that nervous thought that maybe I’m too close to the story to see other faults or that maybe my best won’t be good enough for the publishing world. For the first, I’m trusting my beta readers. For the second, well, those thoughts will always be there, so, my advice to myself: Trust yourself. Trust the work you’ve put into this book, your heart, your time, your passion. Trust that you have done your best, because that’s the most important thing.

And ultimately, if I don’t get the attention of someone in publishing, I can always try again with another book.

What do you think? How do you know when you’re done with a manuscript?
Write On!

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