Writers – Before you mail your manuscript

March 18, 2008 at 8:31 pm | Posted in Writers Write | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

You want to be a writer.  You’ve devoted months, perhaps years to writing your novel.  Now is the time to take a little extra care and prepare it for submission.  It will be well worth your effort to make a positive first impression.

 I highly recommend you seek the services of a professional editor.   No matter how many times you have read your manuscript; searching for misspelled words or grammatical errors; scouring for passive voice, dangling participles and mismatched adjectives; it will benefit from professional services. Sometimes we are just too close to see what is right before our eyes.  An editor will offer a new perspective, unbiased and sincere.

While you wait for feedback, research your market.  Find a list of publishers for your genre.  You can either look at books by your favorite authors; usually the publisher is noted on the first or second page before the Title Page.  Sometimes an author will include acknowledgements, and thank their editors and agents.  There are also several resource books available, with current contact and address information.  Consider the following: 2008 Writer’s Market, Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market 2008 or Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents 2008, which include details regarding specific agents or publishers who are seeking submissions. 

Only when your manuscript is perfectly polished and you’ve done sufficient research on your market, will you be ready to submit your book for consideration.   Most agents / publishers will request a query before asking for the entire manuscript, followed by a cover letter, chapter synopsis, story synopsis and author resume are the second.  Enclose a self addressed stamped envelope (SASE) for a reply.   Once asked, and only when asked, you may submit your complete manuscript.  The first page is a Title Page.  Include your name, address, phone number and email address.  In the upper right corner add word count. Vertically and horizontally center the Book’s Title, double space, Author’s Name.  Your book will begin on Page Two.  Include a header with your last name / book title and footer with page number.  Each page should have at least 1” margin, lines double spaced, font Times New Roman or Arial.  Use good quality paper and print on one side only. 

Pay attention to the spelling (especially your contact’s name!), content and appearance of these “selling” documents.  You are not only selling your manuscript, you are also selling yourself. You need to present yourself in a professional manner. Writing is art and books are business.  Agents and publishers are in business and they will be looking for professional partners to sell books.  If you appear needy, demanding, difficult or unprofessional you’ll lessen your chances of securing a contract.   

Look Back to Plan Ahead

January 30, 2008 at 7:47 pm | Posted in Writers Write | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Have you ever heard the saying about the definition of insanity?  Insanity is doing the same over and expecting different results.  I have many times, usually from well meaning motivational gurus who encourage change. We can become so focused on what doesn’t work we may overlook what does.

Just for the sake of this dialogue, let’s assume that everyone has succeeded at some time in their life, at least once. There may be a thousand failures, but there is at least one success.  If the past is the best predicator of the future, rather than looking back on a thousand failures (that’s depressing!) look back on that one success   

What worked?    

I was successful in landing a job.  How did I do that?             

 – I prepared for the interview.  The interviewer told me the interview would be a conducted as an informational interview. These are especially stressful because you’re put on the spot to answer questions that exhibit your skills, like “Tell me about a time you successfully dealt with an irate customer.”  Knowing I’d be faced with these types of questions I wrote a list of accomplishments that I could use for my real world examples.  I then prepared several questions which I thought might be asked, such as “Give me an example of when you were able to lead a difficult individual.” I wrote the questions on index cards and had my husband and kids “interview” me.               

 – I imagined a positive outcome.  I added my new job title and start date to my resume. They didn’t know it yet, but the job was already mine! I visualized the interview; my relaxed demeanor, professional appearance, ready answers and witty banter.  My hands may not have been as steady or my wit as witty as I imagined; but I was much more relaxed having a positive expectation of the interview.             

  – I presented myself to make a good impression, but I was also authentic.  I didn’t try to hide my nerves, but acknowledged them.  I paused to give myself time to think of my answers.  I thanked them for their time and maybe even gushed in my enthusiasm to make a good impression.  No matter how much I want to appear cool, collected and in complete control; my façade would crumble after a few days on the new job.  It’s better they know I’m human right from the start.  In this one example of success in my life, I can see what works for me:  

            Preparation

            Practice

            Positive Visualization

            Presentation

Once you define what works for you, think of how you’ll apply the same strategies in areas where you may have failed in the past.   For example, I was unsuccessful at selling a manuscript.             

 – I wasn’t fully prepared.  When an agent asked what made my book different, I couldn’t think of an answer.  If I couldn’t sell my book, how could I expect someone else to?  I vowed to be prepared in the future.  I read dozens of books on the subject of finding an agent or publisher. I researched the market, identified my audience and my competition.  Why would someone choose my book over Sue Grafton, Patricia Cornwell or Jonathon Kellerman? I had to know the answer to this question and believe it!           

   – Next, I practiced the fine art of convincing others.  You guessed it, my hubby and kids again. While they’re not the toughest judges in the world, I found that the more times I said “My book features a strong heroine unlike any other in the mystery genre. She is a working mother, conflicted with the demands of work and family, yet dedicated to both.” the stronger I felt about it.              

 – It was easy for me to imagine a big fat advance for my manuscript. I imagined what it would be like to be a best selling writer.   I posted a list of the NY Times Bestsellers and replaced the #1 selection with my book’s title.  I wrote a million dollar check to myself so I could get used to seeing that many zeros in my bank account.              

 – Presentation was absolutely critical to my success. I hired an outside editing firm to ensure my manuscript was in tip top shape before I sent one query letter.  I had my query letter, story synopsis, chapter synopsis, sample chapters and resume ready to mail at a moment’s notice.  

There’s no “one size fits all” formula of success. Take the time to look back in order to succeed in the future.

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.