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
Whatever the reason, your work can not be published until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
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
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
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
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 here
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
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
Copyright 2003 Tina Morgan. All rights reserved