Editing

Is It Ready to Submit?

You’ve poured out your soul. You’ve written your heart out. You’ve struggled and sweated over how to say what you want to say. You’ve paced the floor, clicked your heels, and now you think maybe it’s ready to submit. But how do you know?

Good question.

“Good question” usually means you’re going to get a lousy answer. I won’t promise you anything different now, because it can be so hard to know if your article, story, proposal, or manuscript is ready to send to agents and editors who, if there’s any justice in this world, will be honored to read it and eager to publish it, making you rich and famous in less time than it takes to change your typewriter ribbon.

Sorry. Got a little carried away. And nostalgic.

Seriously, though, writing and publishing is such a subjective business that it’s hard to know if your piece is ready to submit to someone, somewhere. After all, you want to make a good—even great—first impression, right? You want to ensure the best possible chance for success. And fame. And—sorry, started to get carried away again. Still, though I can’t offer you “Ten Surefire Ways to Know Your Piece Is Ready to Submit,” I can suggest “Ten Surefire Ways to Know Your Piece Isn’t Ready to Submit.” That’s almost as good, right? So, here goes:

  1. If you haven’t prayed (and listened) for wisdom and guidance, it’s not ready to submit.
  2. If you just wrote it today, it’s not ready to submit.
  3. If you haven’t written (and “field-tested”) a gripping hook, it’s not ready to submit.
  4. If you haven’t spell-checked it, it’s not ready to submit.
  5. If you haven’t read it aloud, it’s not ready to submit.
  6. If you haven’t proofread it, it’s not ready to submit.
  7. If no one else’s eyes have seen it (to edit or critique), it’s not ready to submit.
  8. If you haven’t made sure the person(s) you’re sending it to actually represents or publishes in your genre, it’s not ready to submit.
  9. If you haven’t researched the genre, it’s not ready to submit.
  10. If you can’t say what other successful books are like yours and how yours is better or different, it’s not ready to submit.

Much of that list is serviceable for both short form (articles, short stories, etc.) and long form (book proposals and manuscripts). I think so, anyway. Though, to be fair, what do I know? I just dashed this off today and sent it off without even spell-checking or proofreading. (I’m really hoping no one can tell.)

How about you? What metric do you use to decide when something you’ve written is ready to submit for publication?

Leave a Comment

Use Your Thesaurus and Dictionary Correctly

Today we look at how one writer uses his thesaurus and dictionary in a fascinating way. The following is a five-minute video from Martin Amis, one of Britain’s well-known literary novelists and essayists. I recommend clicking the “cc” close-captioned on the bottom next to the settings button. That way you …

Read More

The Editorial Process

It is important to understand the process through which a book takes under the umbrella called “The Edit.” I meet many first timers who think it is just a one-time pass over their words and that is all that will ever happen. And many who self-publish think that hiring a high school English teacher to check for grammar is enough of an edit.

There are four major stages to the Editorial Process. Unfortunately they are called by various names depending on which publisher you are working with, which can create confusion. I will try to list the various terms but keep them under the four categories.

Rewrites / Revisions/Substantive Edit

These can happen multiple times. You could get input from your agent or an editor who suggests you rewrite or revise those sample chapters of the full manuscript. Last year I suggest that one of my non-fiction clients cut the book in half and change its focus. We sold this first time author. But the writer had to do a lot of work to get it ready for the proposal stage.

Read More

The Stages of Editorial Grief

Nearly every writer will tell you they have experienced the proverbial “red pen” treatment from their editor. The reactions to this experience can follow the well-known stages of grief popularized by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.

Skip Denial, I’m Angry!

There is no denying that the edits have arrived. And for the author who was not expecting a hard-nosed edit, they can transition from “shocked-angry” to “furious-angry” to “rage.”

And then they call their agent.

Read More

Handi Wipe® Brand Names from Your Writing

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post in this space titled “Details Are Great—Except When They’re Not.” In that post, I said, “Sometimes details can be lethal to an article, story, or book.” (I quote myself occasionally because if I don’t do it, who will?) Soon, someone emailed …

Read More

15 Grammar Rules That Can be Broken

With trepidation I step into the gladiator arena of grammar. Below is a marvelous infographic from ExpertEditor.com, an Australian professional editing and proofreading company. Do you agree or disagree with these choices? Grammar rules are there for a reason. Clarity, consistency, and communication. A sloppy manuscript is a terrible thing …

Read More

Tips on Writing a Novella

Today’s guest post is written by one of our clients, Lynn A. Coleman (www.lynncoleman.com). She is the founder of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), as well as the author of more than 50 novels and novellas. She lives with her husband of 45 years, who is the lead pastor of a …

Read More

Four Myths About Editors

Since even the most prolific authors’ experience with editors may be limited to one or two, editors can seem mythical. Let’s unwrap a few assumptions: 1)  Editors don’t have to worry about the market. Agents advise writers to consider the market when writing. This is because editors do have to …

Read More