My daughter Ann works with analysts who are always being asked for materials to present to high-level executives. Often her conversations sound like this:
Coworker: “I don’t have any idea what they want.”
Ann: “Create something, show it to them, and let them tell you how to change it.”
This process has proven successful time and time again.
I share this because it’s some of the best advice a creative in any field can use. An agent or editor can’t work with a blank screen. A critique partner can’t offer advice or feedback based on nothing.
You may be nervous about putting your thoughts on the screen. Will they seem as fascinating as they were when you were plotting during a steamy shower? Write them anyway.
And sending chapters to strangers who, because of the sheer volume of amazing manuscripts they receive every day, may be looking for a reason to reject your work, may make you nervous. Nervous is normal here. But often I’ve worked with authors through more than one manuscript and many ideas before we hit on one we both felt would be successful. However, without any words, I could not have identified the author’s talent and ability. As for changes? A willingness to make changes shows the author’s dedication and work ethic. Both are critical, especially during several layers of edits that occur during a publisher’s editorial process.
Change is inevitable. Give us something to change.
How many drafts do you usually go through before you feel your manuscript is ready?
Do you have critique partners? How do they help you the most?
What makes you the most nervous about sending your manuscript to editors and agents?