You have a story with a great hook. It’s unique and you think it can stand up in today’s marketplace. You want to send it out for consideration and of course you want your submission to be its very best! But how do you know when it’s ready? That seems to be one of the biggest questions writers have because let’s face it, it’s hard to judge your own work! Of course you must go through rounds of critiques and revisions. It also helps to have a checklist to go over so you can make sure your manuscript has all those elements it needs to make sure you have created a manuscript worthy of consideration. Of course, there are genre specific elements but some things to put on your list are:
- Character growth
- Problem that the main character resolves himself
- Great descriptive words
- Active verbs
- Definite beginning, middle, and end
- A great twist or surprise ending, or at least a satisfying one
- Emotional depth
- Dialogue flow and believability
- Unique voice for each character, and the story as a whole
- Pace that will keep readers engaged
- Overall story flow
What other things can you do?
Read out loud. Yes, read your manuscript out loud. Perhaps numerous times. Yes, this can take a long time with a novel but it sure makes it easier to pinpoint places that drag, dialogue that needs to be pumped up, and even typos.
Take time off. It is amazing the new perspective with which you can see your manuscript if you put it away for a month and don’t think about it. (It helps to work on other things, of course.) Even a couple days or a week can do wonders.
Trusted readers. Having one or more people (whether they are your critique partners or others) who can read your work a number of times and tell you if it’s getting better…or worse…or can help you figure out which way to go when you are stuck…or can tell you that something is ready to go isn’t a luxury that we all have, but with the internet there are more possibilities than ever to find beta readers for your work.
After working through these elements many times, it seems to me that I decide something is ready to go when I start noticing that I’m just changing the same things back and forth.
So, revise, revise, revise! Take care of the technicalities (spelling, grammar, point of view, etc.) Double check that formatting to make sure it’s good to go. Write that query letter and synopsis (if you need one). Make that manuscript the very best you can make it. And when you think it is ready, send it out on submission and give it a chance. You’ll never know what might happen if you don’t give it a shot.
Want to know how other writers know their manuscript is ready? Read some author insights in How Do Authors Know When Their Manuscripts Are Ready?
Need more to think on? Check out:
So tell us, how do you decide when your manuscript is ready for submission?