Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Is Your Manuscript Ready for Publication?

Guest Post by
DP Martinez, Co-founder and Senior Editor, Risen Books

Some time ago, I received a query with an intriguing story premise—a soldier returns from Iraq to become the sheriff of his home county, only to find that the dangers lurking in his jurisdiction are worst than any he faced in the Middle East.

Excited about this idea, I skipped the rest of the query and began reading the sample chapter.

I didn’t make it past the first page. The first few paragraphs read like a boring nonfiction volume about war in the 21st century.

Most of the book proposals I receive as an acquisitions editor can be defined in two words: they suck.

It’s a hard way to put it, but it’s true. Usually, the problem is not in the premise—like in the example above—but in the execution.

Just having a good idea is not enough. As a writer you must hone your skills and work hard on your manuscript until it is ready for publication.

Now, ask yourself this: would you try out for the Olympic race team if you can’t even run down the stairs without suffering a heart attack? No, you must first train hard and get in shape. Why then submit a manuscript that is suffering from a heart attack?

Sometimes we are the worst judges of our own writing. That’s why we need others to read our stuff and provide feedback.

Critique groups are fine, as long as you don’t have a large group of neophytes sharing useless advice.

My best advice is to hire a professional editor to look at your manuscript and point the strengths and the weaknesses. Then go buy some books or attend conferences where you can learn how to overcome those weaknesses. Go through several drafts, and submit only your best.

On tomorrow’s post, I will announce a new contest from Risen Books for unpublished authors—you’ll get a chance to show if your manuscript is ready and possibly win a publishing contract.


Marianne said...

Hi Shellie...i look forward to reading some of the new authors you deal with!

Shellie said...

Hi Marianne,

I'm just the messenger:). Risen Books published my debut novel, DRIVEN. Mr. Martinez is the acquisitions editor in charge:D.

He's a wealth of knowledge. I hope you enjoy his posts!

Joanne Sher said...

Great post! Anxiously awaiting the next one :)

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