We’ve talked a lot about querying and entering contests and subbing here on the Sub It Club blog. And rightly so. That is what we’re about, after all.
But today, I want to take a half a step back and discuss a vitally important step in the subbing process. Before you hit “send” on your query or your contest entry, take a moment to ask yourself: “Is my manuscript really ready?”
As well as this series of tweets from Agent Julia Weber:
And this one from Agent Molly Jaffa a few days ago:
I’ve seen this advice over and over again from agents, editors and contest judges. If you send out your manuscript before it’s ready, you’re giving a poor impression of your abilities. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot. Be patient with yourself and take the time necessary to get it right.
So how do you know if your manuscript is ready? Agent Lara Perkins explained it very well in this post from last year’s Write On Con. To sum up:
1. Finish writing the full manuscript. Unless you’ve already proven that you can write a book… in other words, unless you already have impressive publishing credits, agents cannot sell your novel on the idea alone. Everyone has good ideas. The test is whether or not you can pull it together into something magical.
2. Then, revise and polish. No one writes a perfect story in one draft. Not even bestselling authors. Writing “the end” doesn’t mean you’ve finished!
3. Get critique from people who know what they’re talking about. Critique partners are an essential part of this process! You know your story and your characters better than anyone else, and so you will naturally fill in the blanks on plot holes in your mind. It takes another perspective to see that you haven’t fully explained Johnny’s motives for stealing the teacher’s favorite coffee mug, for instance. And maybe if we knew why he did it, we’d sympathize with Johnny, instead of writing him off as a spoiled brat.
4. Make sure your story has a great hook. You must catch and keep a reader’s attention.
I once had a close friend call me to ask, “I want to get my book published, but I kind of need money quickly, so I don’t want to waste time and money on those writing conferences and seminars and all that stuff you waste your time with. Can you just give me a quick run-down on the basics, so I can publish my book and start earning money right away?” I told her that the basics are simple. But publishing is not a quick process. Take your time and do it right. When you have a manuscript that shines, you can send it out with confidence, knowing that when rejections come (and they will), you don’t need to worry. Acceptance is right around the corner.
So, where are you in the process? Are you ready?