I started out writing this blog about how to find a literary agent and whether or not it is your best route. To help those of you who are wondering if getting an agent is worth the time and effort or if you should just go ahead and send out your manuscript and hope for the best, I want you to have all the factors. While writing about this, a funny thing happened- my blog morphed. I found myself talking about the different kinds of publishers, the things you should do before sending a manuscript to a publisher or agent, and also whether or not I felt an agent was necessary. I found I was writing a book instead of a blog! So I decided to write a series of blogs on publishing and agents. Your individual goals will dictate the best route for you, and learning about today’s publishing world is key to making an informed decision. Since there are certain things that need to be done before you even think of sending out your manuscript, I thought I would start with that. So without further ado….
Wait…don’t send that out yet!
Congratulations, you just completed writing your novel! So now what? Well, after you heave a sigh of relief at having finished and maybe have a celebratory glass of wine, it’s time to decide on the next step. There are many routes you can go, so how do you decide which path to take? Do you submit to the big publishers and hope for the best? Should you go with a smaller print? How about an eBook? Self-Publish? POD? An author’s head could spin with all the different choices! There are several questions we need to ask ourselves before we start sending our manuscripts out, whether it is to publishers themselves or to literary agents we hope will represent us. The first question to ask is: is it really done? I find that when I finish a manuscript, I need to put it down and walk away for a while before I can go back and edit. If I try to edit it right away, I am too close to it and tend to not see the flaws that will inevitably be in it. If I wait for a while, not just a day or two, then I can look at it with fresh eyes and maybe see changes that need to be made. Once I have edited and rewritten, and I truly believe it is ready to go, I have one more thing I need to do before I send it out to anyone. The next step I take is to have it professionally edited.
Is professional editing worth the time and money? In my honest opinion, YES! The last thing we want to do as authors is send out our sweat and tears manuscript and have it discounted without even being read all the way through. Why would that happen? Well, if it has a lot of typos, the formatting is incorrect, if the grammar is incorrect in spots, if the timeline doesn’t work, if the continuity is off…I could go on and on, but I think I have made my point. A professional editor will not only check for grammar and sentence structure; he or she will check for continuity, pace, and flow as well. Writers Conferences, associations, and clubs are an excellent way to find a reputable editor. I also highly recommend Jeff Herman’s book: Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents. Once you find an editor, make sure that your editor will work in the world you have created. Ask for references and check them out –talk with authors who have worked with that editor. There are many people out there who fancy themselves editors and will truly try to do a good job for you, but just don’t have the experience you want in an editor. Would you trust your baby to an inexperienced caregiver? Then why would you trust an inexperienced editor with your labor of love? While a new editor may be good, a proven track record is a plus. Having your manuscript professionally edited greatly increases your chances of publication, but it does not assure it. Unfortunately, there are a number of factors to consider in today’s world of publishing. Keeping that in mind, I will continue this series on publishing and agents as quickly as possible.