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If you’re submitting to agents in order to attain representation for a traditional publishing contract, you may be wondering what to do after you’ve completely exhausted your list. This article will explain what to do next. Hint: Wait for a response isn't an option.
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Learn How to Survive an In-Depth Book Critique Without Losing What Remains of Your Sanity Writing a book is a very personal experience. While the thoughts, feelings and actions of each character are their own, the author creates these things with his or her own experiences, either conscious or subconscious. this means that every time a book is written or a book is read, a piece of the author is inside that book. For that reason, receiving any sort of critique or hash words about the material can seem like a personal insult. The thing to remember is that critiques are meant to help you improve the material, not to insult your intelligence or creativity.
1. Disconnect from the Material
The first thing you should do is try to disconnect yourself from your material. While your book is a personal reflection of parts of you, by the time you get into the critique stage, you need to look at your book in the same light that you would look at someone else's book. In other words, forget you wrote it and start looking at it with the eyes of an editor or book marketer. this will make the comments in the critique easier to handle, and you may even understand what the critiquer was really trying to say. Not to mention, you'll preserve your sanity and sense of self-worth.
2. Evaluate the Strength of the Critique
The critique you receive should be detailed. If you've handed your critiquer a document in Word, LiberOffice, GoogleDocs or another work processor, there should be comments in the margin and the text the critiquer is referencing should be highlighted. If your critiquer didn't do that, there should be detailed notes either at the beginning of each chapter or the end of each chapter. The style will depend on your critiquer, but it should all be detailed. If the individual did not like your plot, there should be many reasons listed. If the critiquer did not like a character, they should have provided reasons. If the critiquer merely said - I hate X character or X plot item, dismiss it immediately. There must be reasons to back up the claims. Otherwise, the comments are useless and not worth another moment of your time.
3. Determine Whether or Not You Agree with the Comments
Read the critiquer's review or summary and reread the highlighted text or chapter. Do you agree or disagree, and how strongly do you feel about your determination? If you partially agree or disagree, what do you think needs to be changed? Remember, your critiquer is trying to provide you with valuable advice and relay a feeling about the material. It is up to you to translate that into actionable items.
If you strongly disagree, why? Do you think the critiquer missed something, didn’t understand the material or just plain wasn’t the right reader for the book? Your answer to this question is important. If you feel like the critiquer missing something or didn’t understand something, is there a way to make it clearer? If you feel like the critiquer wasn’t the right reader for the book, you can dismiss the comments immediately. However, it’s important to weigh their critique with other critiquer’s comments. If something you disagree with shows up multiple times, you may want to take another look at it.
4. Make the Changes You Feel Are Valuable and That Enhance the Work
As the author of the book, you are not obligated to take anyone’s advice into consideration (unless you happen to be under contract, and then, you better change something if you want to keep your contract). If you are an indie author who is going to publish under your own name or brand, you can accept all of the advice, some of the advice or none of the advice. It’s completely up to you, but remember, what you are trying to create is a book that is interesting and appealing to readers.
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The first thing you should know is that agents want you to have an absolutely technically flawless manuscript before you start submitting. This means there cannot be any punctuation, spelling, grammar or sentence structure errors, and ideally, you’ve got one hell of a plot and some amazing characters too. This means that submitting your manuscript to agents and publishers prior to having it finished and perfect is highly frowned upon. You are risking looking like an amateur at best and a crap author or not a serious author at worst. If you are even considering this, you better clear your schedule, and you better bring your writing “A” game.
Why You Maybe Want to Start Submitting Anyway
If you are still contemplating this treacherous time-saver, here’s some reasons and the drawbacks to those reasons.
1. The Submission Process Can Take Months and Sometimes Years
Humans, unfortunately, do not have an unlimited lifespan. This means there may not be years to wait if you want to be a successful and published author and enjoy the fruits of your labor, and this can be especially true if your an older author who already had a career is and is now doing the author thing that you’ve always wanted to do. If you want to cut weeks and months off your agent or publisher search, you start submitting the minute you can guess a word count, and you have a solid first 30 pages or three chapters.
When you send out your initial submission packet via email, agents typically want a query letter, short or long synopsis and the first three chapters or 30 pages. If you have this much, and it looks damned good, you can start.
The Potential Problems
The caveat is that once you submit those pages, you cannot touch them again. You better damned well leave them alone and not change anything unless you find a typo or missing word.
Your second problem is that whatever word count you listed in your query is the word count you have to meet or stick to. This means that if you told the agent you have an 80k manuscript, you better have a word count that rounds to 80k by the time any agent or publisher requests your full manuscript. To have a significantly different word count than your query alerts the agent that you were still working on it when you began the submission process.
2. You’re Losing Steam and Not Making Progress
How long have you been working on your manuscript? Has it been months or years, and it’s still not done? Starting the submission process can light that fire under your tail because once you start submitting, you could have as little as 2 to 3 weeks before someone requests your full manuscript, and you better have that manuscript finished and formatted.
The Potential Problem
Once you get a manuscript request, you have 24 to 48 hours to get that material sent to the agent, and the faster the better before they forget you exist. This means that if your book is not done, you better be prepared to pull an all-nighter to get it done, or you better be prepared to send in a less than perfect novel.
3. You’re Only Waiting on Beta Readers or a Final Edit
If you’re within two weeks of finishing your manuscript via one final edit or waiting on your beta readers, there’s no reason to not start the submission process. At this point, you’re so close to being done that nothing significant should change within the book and especially not in the first three chapters or 30 pages between now and the time you finish the book.
The Potential Problem
The caveat is that your beta readers and/or editor may find errors in the plot or subplots that require a significant reworking. If you get devastating news on your novel, you need to be prepared to rework it fast and remain within your queried word count.
Reasons Not to Start the Submission Process Early
If you are considering it, remember that there are very real reasons not to submit your manuscript before it’s completely finished, proofread and formatted.
1. You’re Not Even Close to Done
If you just started your novel and haven’t even completed the first draft, you’re going to need more than two weeks to finish it. Even the fastest writers need at least a month to write a book, and most writers need two or three months to write a book, even if they’re writing for several hours every night with no days skipped.
2. You Don’t Have Time to Speed-Write Your Novel
If you have obligations that tend to suck up all your free time, you don’t want to start the submission process early. Those obligations could slow you down so much that by the time you get a full manuscript request, you’re still not ready. I don’t know about you, but I can’t write and edit 80k words in 2 days. It’s not possible.
3. You Found Major Errors in Your First Draft
It goes without saying that you better have a completed first draft that’s in good condition before you start submitting and that means reading it after you finish it. If you find major errors or gaps in your manuscript, you need to hold off on submitting. Major errors and gaps can significantly impact your word count and make it impossible for you to estimate a final word count. It can also take more than two weeks to fix major errors and put the final edits on your book.
Before you begin submitting to agents, ask yourself how close you are to being finished. If you can’t finish your book within two to three weeks, it’s best to wait.
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There are a few elements that a great book is going to have.
The first element is the theme of the book. This is what the book or story is going to try to tell us. This is something that might even be able to help you in your own life. Even though not every story is going to have a theme, but it is usually a good idea if it does. It is best for the theme to grow out of the story so that the readers can feel like they have learned about the theme themselves.
The second element of the book is the plot. This is usually the struggle or the conflict that the main character is going to be going through in the book. Sometimes the conflict will be with another character is the book, something that is inside of the character, or with the way that things on going on in the book. Most of the time, as the character begins to grow in the book, then they are going to be able to solve the problem that they have. Therefore, the conflict is going to get more exciting throughout the book.
The third element is the structure of the story. Therefore, this persons the story is going to be in first person or third person. If it is first person, then you are going to be telling the story of something that has happened to you. If the book is in third person, then the story is going to be about other people. This means that the story is going to through the eyes of another character like the main character of the book. You will also need to decide it is going to be in present tense or past tense.
The last element of a book is the characters inside of the book. The main character is going to be a person that the readers are going to care about or have something in common with. Even though you don't have to have a full description of the character, but you will need to say a few things about them like the way that they look, speak, or move. It is also important for the main character to have some type of weakness or flaw in order for the reader to have a better connection with the main character.
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Writing a book does not have to be a long, complicated process. There are people every year who write and publish multiple books. The key factor is to set goals and accomplish those goals on a daily or nightly basis. Here are some author tips to get you started.
Dedicate time every day to write.
You need to set aside time every day to write. Pick a time when it is quiet, and you will have no interruptions. A good time might be in the morning, or before you go to bed at night. Do not start writing when you are going through a big change such as a new child, a new job, or have just got married. These changes take up time that will distract from the writing process.