~Make it your Best~

You only get one chance for a good first impression

 Before submitting your manuscript do some simple things to make sure it’s your best work. 

`Run your word processor’s Spell/Grammar check – this is by no means the best way to edit, at the same time you’ll be surprised just how much it catches. Have a trusted friend (preferably another writer) proof your work.

`Grammar does count. Publishers do employ editors. They are not there to police your use of commas or find your dangling participles.

`Send the cleanest manuscript you can present. Examine your work for lazy, unnecessary, or repetitive words. ‘That’ is one which invades a novel without the writer noticing.

Also look for where you can delete unnecessary descriptors. ‘She sat back down glaring at me.’ ‘She glared at me as she sat.’ 

Every line of dialog doesn’t require a tag (said, answered, etc). Show the emotion in the lead sentence and you don’t have to explain. Simple is better. Use said.

Examine your sentence structure. Look for diversity. Are you starting your sentences with ‘ing’ or ‘ly’ words too much? How many begin with he, she, character names or the?

Are your sentences too long with endless connectors? Or do you have a rash of sentence fragments which should be put together?

The right word – No spell check program will catch these errors consistently. As a writer it is your job to make sure you’ve got the right usage. 

Their – They’re  

Your – You’re

To – Too  

Complement – Compliment 

People ‘lie’ Things ‘lay’

`Does it start in the right place? As the author you need to know everything about your characters, all of the history which makes them act the way they do. The reader often doesn’t need to know or it can be worked into conversation as the story unfolds.

`Start the story where the action begins. Giving the reader pages of back story can put them off and you want to grab them from the first paragraph.

`Too much information, information dumps, are common and at times necessary. Examine these to see if they can be presented in conversion or action. If it isn’t necessary to move the story forward consider cutting it. Paragraphs of back and side stories can become tedious and put your reader off.

`Consistent point of view (pov). Every character does not need to have their pov shared with the reader. Give pov to your lead characters because what they know, see and think propel the story. Avoid jumping from one character to another every other paragraph. It can be confusing for the reader.

`Show, don’t tell: 

Troy saw a dog cross the road. 

Motion caught Troy’s attention. A scruffy, brown dog loped across the dusty road and into the trees as if he owned them.

`Writing is a process of constant learning. Be willing to listen to comments without getting defensive. If you’re still protective of your work, get over it or wait until you do. Submitting to Agents and Publishers can be a brutal business. A writer needs to develop a pretty tough skin.

Take Care

~Writers Be Aware~

There are countless entities on the prowl for the unsuspecting, naive or desperate writer. Publishers don’t charge their authors; they pay them

Whether you choose to publish with a Self-publish (pay for print services), Traditional or EBook press, read your contract thoroughly and completely. Negotiate the parts you are uncomfortable with.

Do not enter into any agreement you are not comfortable with or do not completely understand.

 A reputable, traditional, publisher will not ask you for money for any reason.

 Self-publish press is an increasingly popular option. The reputable ones will lay out all of their fees up front. Hidden fees and representing as something other than Self-publish is common.

Do your research.

 Publishers and Agents should not charge for or refer you to a fee edit service, nor should there be a ‘reading’ fee. Publishers and Agents make their money from selling work.

 You will get a specified number of copies of your work at no charge. If they charge for every copy you receive be suspicious.

 You will be encouraged to network and promote your work. You may even decide to purchase pens, bookmarks and the like, at your expense, for self-promotion.

 Self-promotion is an important part of any successful printing. The publisher should never ask you for money or insist you spend money to promote.

In the Publishing world the money always runs towards the author.

It bears repeating.  ~Publishers don’t charge their authors; they pay them.~

You’ve written ‘The End’. Now what?

‘The End’ It’s been written, you’ve come to the conculsion of your story. Joy, Elation! Congratulations you’ve finished a full length novel. Many dream, many aspire, and you’ve completed the goal; to write ‘The End’.

When I was writing my first manuscript (ms) I had my best friend (the one person in the world who would tell me if it was crap) beta reading as I went. In as much I did clean up editing along the way. Little did I know how far from the finish line I was; probably a good thing in retrospect.

I bought books on how to query and be published. Very quickly I discovered I was a guppy swimming with sharks. One needs an agent to find a publisher. Agents like to take on authors who have an interested publisher. Huh? I need an agent to get a publisher, and to get an agent I need a publisher?

Confused, I set about sending queries and writing my next book.

What I didn’t know?

I had a first draft, not a finished piece. Reject letters came in and I kept writing.

Fast forward to a contest. I got out my ms and started to read in hopes of polishing it into a winning submission. Gasp! I wrote that? It’s littered with infomation dumps, saidisms, head hopping.. good gracious no wonder all I got were reject letters.

Time for the first real rewrite/edit. Good news? I still love my characters and the stories I’ve written. Bad news? As I learn and grow as a writer I find myself back in the orginal mss looking to clean them up.

The journey from ‘The End’ to Published is a long road.  I made it, and stand as a testiment that hard work and perseverance does indeed pay off.

My debut novel, Safe Harbor, is available through Second Wind Publishing LLC.