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Writing Tips for Fiction Writers!


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  When to Submit:
Are you ready?

by Tina Morgan

Knowing when to submit your work can be a difficult decision for many writers. Many get caught up in the euphoria of finishing their first manuscript and send it off as soon as their printer finishes the last page. I confess I did this with my first novel. However, I might have saved myself some rejection if I had waited a few weeks and re-read my novel with a fresh perspective.

Other writers get caught in the trap of editing and re-editing long after they should have stopped and started submitting. For some, this intense need to edit is a fear of rejection. For others it can be a perfectionist personality trait.

Whatever the reason, your work can not be published until you submit it to someone.

Here are some tips to help you give your work that final polish:.

1) Put your work away. For how long depends on how long you need in order to read it with a fresh eye. Suggested amount of time would be 2 weeks to 6 months. The longer the work, the longer the time.

2) Run a spelling and grammar check. This is number 2 for a reason. Most writers will do this automatically however, there are always those who submit their work to readers without bothering and inevitably they're told to fix it before the other workshop members will critique it. Why? Because struggling through a lot of misspelled words distracts from the story and is frustrating to the reader. You do not want your readers to be frustrated.

3) Allow another writer to read it, preferably not a friend unless your friend is a writer and will give you an honest and helpful critique. Consider submitting to a workshop, either online or face-to-face.

4) Have someone read just for grammar and punctuation mistakes. If you have serious grammar or sentence structure problems, now is the time to fix them. An editor will not have the time or the inclination to fix spelling and grammar mistakes.

5) Save the critiques. Read them but don't act on them yet. If necessary, remind yourself that a critique is never personally about you - it is that reader's response to the words you wrote.

Give yourself time to consider what was said. Are there any problems that are noted in more than 2 critiques? If more than one reader has the same problem then it is something you might want to address. The reason for not rewriting as soon as you receive the first critique is simple. You might not agree with what's said. Take the time to think over the suggested changes. Use the ones that will improve the story you want to tell.

Disregard the other critiques. Not every reader is going to like your story. That's not a problem. Remember: You can't please everyone.

6) Once you've finished your rewrites, print your story. Consider using a different font than the one you've been working with. Use a clear and easy to read font. Punctuation and word problems are often easier to spot in a printed copy than on the computer screen. Read through the story for continuity, especially if you've made any major cuts to the story. Read for punctuation and spelling. Your spell checker won't catch wrong words: he instead of she, here instead of hear. Repeated words will slip past some spell checkers as well. Nothing takes the place of the human brain when checking for punctuation and grammar mistakes.

Once you've made it through the checklist, are you ready to submit?

Not Yet!

Now you need to do a little market research.

Take the time to locate a publisher that prints the type of story you've written, then check and double-check their guidelines.

A member of a writers' group once said that he didn't have time to jump through all the hoops publishers put in the way of new writers. Sometimes it may seem like this is the case, but that's not necessarily so. Those rules are there for a reason - and those hoops were made to be sure your manuscript would actually stand a better chance of being read fairly, instead of rejected unread. You can see an article on manuscript formatting

Some e-publishers won't accept e-subs because they're afraid of computer virus. Having been hit by a virus or two, I understand this concern. Some print publishers want certain fonts and print sizes. This may seem overly restrictive but it is usually to try to keep writers from submitting in hard-to-read fonts. Many editors read for hours a day, by the time they get to your submission you don't want them to pitch it because their eyes are tired and they can't focus on the small, fancy font you've chosen.

Once you've done your homework on researching your market and you've followed the checklist, now you're almost ready to submit.

The sad truth is - once your manuscript is finished - that's only the beginning. You will still need to create a
query letter and a synopsis of your manuscript, and this is when you should be starting to think about promotional activities. What will you do to ensure that your sales actually happen?

Yes, the odds of rejection are high but do the best work you can, present it in a professional manner and you just might receive a publishing contract instead of a "no thanks".

Copyright 2003 Tina Morgan. All rights reserved


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