Submission:Step One - Preparing for Submissions

The quest to submit my manuscript is teaching me how to step out the process. Now some of this may seem very basic to many of you. My submissions in the past were products created for someone else. They were assignments to make someone, someplace, or some event look good. The road to creative writing is a different plane from my old writing endeavors. Much of my writing in the past had to be succinct, void of emotion, instructional, and often just plain informative. I wrote in a world of "turn around" deadlines, proofreaders, corporate style guides, and final sign offs.  Working on my own in the creative writing field is like landing on Mars and it's filled with land mines.

First of all, the ideas are mine. They do not attempt to be aligned with any corporate goals. They are the product of my imagination.   My fiction and poetry tries to entertain or evoke emotion. I want to give the reader a place to go that is different from their current space. The process of submission for a contest, a query for an agent or publisher, or even sharing my work with a critic group is a lot scarier.

I've been told editors and proofreaders can be hired, but if you are a beginner like me your budget is limited. So I thought I'd share my process with you, my readers.  So perhaps those of you who are more experienced could share your tips. 

Preparing for your submissions: No it is not a typo you will have multiple submissions and multiple rejections. Your document has to go through some rigorous edits before you can even send a submission out.

Step 1 - After you have written the entire submission. Print it out.
Step 2 -  Read it aloud. Fix the obvious.
Step 3 - Walk away. Give the document time to cool.
Step 4 -  Make a list of what to edit: consistent tense, locations, and make sure the characters' names are spelled correctly throughout the work. Check the point of view. What voice are you using?
Step 5 - Start second edit. Some writers start from the last line and work their way up the document. Each writer has their own method. The operative word is method. Create a process that works for you.
Step 6 - Progress slowly though your of second edit. During this process think about a 30 second elevator speech you would use to describe the story consisting of no more than three or four sentences.
Step 7 - Send  your manuscript to someone you don't know very well.  You want someone who loves to read. You don't want a proof reader. You want a book lover who will be honest with you. Here are some questions I send with a manuscript:
  • Did the characters seem real to you?
  • How did the story read? Which part was the clearest? 
  • Which part needs to be flushed out more? 
  • What would you like to see explained in the story?
  • What would make the story seem more realistic to you?
Give your beta reader a firm deadline. The deadline needs to be reasonable depending on what you are sending (short story vs. novel). Be sure that you and your beta reader get together to discuss your story. Plan for enough time so you can listen to all the information and have enough time for additional questions.

If you, my readers, have additional comments to editing a submission, please feel free to share with all of us. If you have found some some way to make the process less painful, let us know.

My next blog will give you a report on my adventures on Query Tracker. This is a great step to take while you are editing or your beta readers are reading your work.


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