Are you one of those fabulous writers who finishes your books well before deadline? Are there weeks, maybe even months, left before you’re supposed to turn in the novel? Or maybe you’re just talking a week or two. That’s still great. Celebrate!
Should you send your novel to the editor today?
At least, there probably isn’t anything to be gained by turning in your novel early. Most publishers won’t pay authors promptly for an early turn-in. That’s because in most cases, they have to approve your work before they’ll release the paperwork for the check to be cut.
Editors have a schedule. They might be appreciative of the fact that you are conscientious and finish your work early. Turning it in well before expected might earn you some brownie points. But that’s about it. Most editors I know already have their reading scheduled, and have their editors under them scheduled. Everyone is busy reading books that are in process now. The editor is unlikely to stop and read your book to give manuscript approval now to cut your check today. Sorry.
So since you won’t be paid early, why send your work right now when you can use your time wisely? Here’s what I recommend:
- Let it mellow. Wait a few days or weeks. Forget the manuscript. Go do something else.
- A couple weeks before it’s due, come back to it.
- Read it aloud. Yes, that’s right. Read it aloud. I used to do this with my manuscripts. Sometimes I congratulated myself on my brilliance. (Ha!) At other times, I couldn’t believe how cheesy my characters sounded. I was able to eliminate a lot of cheese before the editor saw it. I recommend reading your manuscript aloud to yourself if at all possible before you send it to an editor.
That’s it! Now you have something to do with all that extra time. That, and go out to dinner to celebrate a job done well done, and early.
Do you read your manuscripts aloud? If so, how has this helped you?
How much time do you usually have between the time you finish a manuscript and the time you need to turn it in?
I’ve never read my manuscript out loud from beginning to end.
I’ve read some dialogue out loud, but that’s it.
I used to read to my children when they were little. Even when they got a little older and they were learning to read, I’d slide into bed beside them and read until they were ready to go to sleep. I’ll need to reprogram myself that reading out loud doesn’t mean it’s time to go to sleep. Ha!
Thanks for the great tip!
Tamela Hancock Murray
Jackie, thanks for the chuckle. I’m sure your books won’t put anyone to sleep! 🙂
Aw, thanks Tamela!
I started to read my writing aloud a few years ago and it really helps. I always read aloud now 🙂
I sent the manuscript for my second novel to my publisher about a month early because I found I was spending too much time on compulsively ‘polishing’ every facet of it. This was keeping me from the more pressing need to finish the third manuscript of the trilogy. Thanks for the read-aloud tip – I’m going to try it as I work on Book 3!
Amongst other things, I write children’s books. Short. I try to have someone else read them out loud to me.
What I think reads in one, most obvious way, is not always the way someone else reads it. If I only read out loud to myself, I will always to it “right” and miss how someone not in my head might do it.
Heh…and then there are the typos…
Vickie Petz Henderson
As soon as I began seriously writing I developed the habit of reading my words out loud. When my health prevented me from speaking for long periods of time, my dear mother volunteered to read my entire manuscript back to me. It always sounds different outside of my head. Glad to know I am not alone in finding some cheesyness.
Thanks so much for the timely blog. I was just about to send my finished work to my editor very early. Now, I’ll keep it for a while and give it a final go-over in a few weeks.
Yes, I always read my manuscript out loud. I learned that long ago with my crit group of the time. Fun blog.
When my kids were young, I read aloud to one of them every night, alternating which one with my husband. We’d read a Bible story and something else until they were in 5th grade. (Fifth graders still wanted to be read to even though they read a lot by themselves!) I developed the skill of scanning a half sentence or more ahead while I was reading so I got the emotional expression right.
Then I started reading Nancy Drew novels into an MP3 recorder to play while we travel. (They are all 3 hrs 10 min long, plus or minus 5 min-20 chapters of almost identical length. Talk about precision writing to a formula!). My husband wants me to read my novels into MP3 format as well. I’ve postponed while I did the rewrite from omniscient narrator to 3rd person limited POV, but it’s time for me to start before the next 700-mile drive to Texas.
It will be a great way to kill 2 birds with one stone: hearing what it sounds like and giving my hubby something he wants. I’ll also have something special to give to my future readers. I can envision several ways to give away read-by-author files to my fans.
There’s a Christmas gift idea for someone you love! Whose mother (or daughter) wouldn’t want to listen to such a gift?
Linda Riggs Mayfield
You have highly motivated me to explore MP3 in a way that had never crossed my mind. Thanks!
Linda Riggs Mayfield
I do read aloud everything I write, usually several times. It’s amazing that someone as visual as I am can miss a word that is there in different forms too close together in a sentence or paragraph, but it happens; then when I read the text aloud, the repetitions clang like bells–in the Poe sense! 🙂 I’ve noticed that in the editing notes for my clients, I often write something like, “This sounds odd,” so I think I’m hearing their words in my head as well as seeing them on the screen.
I haven’t had the opportunity to have a book deadline–yet, but for the scholarly and popular press articles I’ve published, I tend to be like Joan–get it done early, then try to “pick at it” to perfection, sometimes to its detriment, and mine. Sometimes hitting the Send button early is a good idea. 🙂
I’m just trying to get a handle on this concept of “finishing early.” (Great tips!)
I’m on the first book, but I do read back out loud and often record as I read. Later, I play back the recording while I’m doing dishes or some other task. Even the recorded version reveals things I’ve missed.
Thanks for the great tips!
Tamela, I transfer my finished Word document to my Kindle, then have the Kindle read my book out loud to me. Helps a lot! Thanks for the post.
Love this blog! I am so guilty of sending work in early! On a brighter note, I read my books aloud to my puppy as I write them! 😉
I used to read my work out loud, but I’d still miss things because I’d read what I intended to write not what was actually written. Now I use text to voice software, and my computer reads my work to me. That works much better for me.
(One reason to turn things in early is to avoid any last minute problems, such as your Internet being down, a computer crash, an emergency, your email going to spam, and so forth.)
Tamela Hancock Murray
Peter, you have a good point about not waiting until the drop-dead last moment to turn your work in. A day or two does give some cushion, especially if, for example, a snowstorm is headed your way and you may lose power.