I'm anal. No one I know would describe me any differently. I write a book and then take a couple of days off. I come back to it with rested eyes and I begin a self edit. I look for all the telling that I know I do. I insert all the dropped words I know are missing. I look for pet words and phrases. I look for weak spots in the storyline or plot. I look for places where I rushed and could have explained better. When I've done all that, I turn it over to another set of eyes.
When I write a gay romance, the next set of eyes usually belong to a gay or bi man. Most other stuff I turn over to one of three people whose opinions I value as a critiquer. None of the three pull any punches with me. They are hard on me. "You info dumped here, delete it." "Too much scenery here, not enough emotion. Shift the focus." "I really think you have overused the word PINK. You need to search on it and remove it." Sometimes when I worry about how something will be perceived, I get a new set of eyes, a true reader. For Ride the Lightning with it's attempted suicide scene, I wanted someone other than my normal critters and betas to tell me the book was fine with that scene in it. So I handed the manuscript to a fan of the Tales series who is an as yet to be published writer. I needed to know that the readers wouldn’t be squicked out by the scene.
My point here is that when you finish a manuscript... you are far from finished. In point of fact, the real work has just begun. Trying to polish something that is your baby can be very difficult. You've been looking at it so long, you don't see the dropped words and missing commas and hyphens. Having another set of eyes is IMPERATIVE. If you are doing it all on your own and subbing it to publishers you are probably going to get a rejection or at least a revise and resubmit.
And if you get a dozen rejections or R&R’s on a manuscript, don’t keep hawking it to publishers as is. Twelve editors are not wrong. Maybe one or two, but not a dozen of them. Something isn’t good enough in that manuscript and that means you should be looking at it with fresh eyes and seeking someone else, someone new, to look at it and you should take to heart the words of the editors who have rejected you. Did they say your voice is too passive? You have too many grammatical errors? That your plot is too implausible even for a paranormal?
If twelve editors are rejecting you for the same thing, don’t be so fired up to be published that you send off that same manuscript to another half dozen houses who are all on the suspect list at EREC and Preditors and Editors. Because you know, less scrupulous houses may take a manuscript that isn’t good enough for the houses that pride themselves on their products and authors. And do you want to be associated with a house with a bad rep? Or do you want a career that shows you care about your craft and want to be well-known one day? Take that manuscript with all the rejections and fix the things that got it rejected. Hone your craft and don’t assume those twelve editors are wrong because twelve readers in your crit group loved your story. The critters won’t give you a contract. The editors will, so you need to pay attention to their words, especially if they are from one of the houses that are well-respected.
How do I know this? I read submissions for Freya's Bower and Wild Child Publishing for a year. I've seen a lot of authors turn in manuscripts that could have been better if only they had critters, beta readers, and had learned to self edit. Missing periods and scrambled words just don't belong in a professional submission. You should not send your story to a publisher without someone else vetting it first. Even the best of us can miss a dropped word. In fact, most authors miss them because they've just been too close to the manuscript. The other set of eyes is pretty much mandatory for catching those boo boos.
Now, go ahead and crit my blog post. It's a blog post, not a manuscript for a publisher. At the same time, it's nearly 9 pm and I've worked OT today and I haven't been sleeping well. That means SOMETHING is bound to be wrong with this post! Will I see it? Maybe not. Will you? Well, you're more likely to than I am! And that right there is the thrust of my post.
As writers and authors, you should be self editing. But you should also have those manuscripts critiqued by someone who is knowledgeable and willing to tell it like it is. Sycophants need not apply for this job! (Don't know that word? Dictionary.com! GO. Go, now!)
If you are not self editing and you are not using critiquers who know what they are talking about... you are not ready to be published. You deserve all the stinging red marks an editor is going to fill your manuscript with. And if you receive a rejection, well, you may just deserve that too because I am here, telling you what to do to help avoid those things. If you choose to ignore my advice, you're courting the big R or the grumpy editor with the red tracking marks. If you don't believe me, ask the people who have to read submissions.
Avail yourself of the groups out there that can help you. Ask published authors or former editors to read your work. If you are a writer who has never been published, don't hand your manuscript off to a handful of other aspiring writers who are in the same boat as you. Give it to someone more experienced. If you are an author already, give the manuscript to another author or former editor. Perhaps someone who has been doing this longer than you or who has had more success. Don't sit on your laurels and turn in crappy, messy manuscripts to your editors thinking they will take it cause they took the last three... You may find yourself shocked right out of your complacence with a big, fat rejection email.
Go on out there and edit yourself. Then get someone else to crit it. Give yourself a fighting chance to win at the publishing game.
Have a great day!Lex Valentine
Lex has been writing ever since she could hold a pencil and started her career as an author in the 3rd grade, winning a poetry contest at school. Born and raised in Salinas, California, Lex moved to Southern California in 1992. She lives in Orange County with her daughter Nikki and Rott, her long haired tattooed DH. She loves loud music, builds her own computers, and has a propensity for having very weird vivid dreams about Nikki Sixx.
Lex works full-time at a cemetery as the network administrator. Her list of publishers includes: Ellora's Cave, Pink Petal Books, MLR Press, Liquid Silver Books, Noble Romance, Freya’s Bower, Wild Child Publishing, MSF, and Cobblestone Press.
When wildling Corey Green discovers his mate is Seth Dylan, a tough as nails, dour werewolf from the McCallan clan, he thinks his life is set. However, Seth’s not out and doesn’t know if he wants to be. A pivotal sexual encounter between the men has Seth running scared and leaves Corey broken hearted. The men meet again nearly two years later and this time Seth’s out but Corey’s dark depression is about to send him behind the Veil of the Jewel Box to the fae world. Seth’s determined to make up for running out on Corey, but the wildling’s sunny disposition has gone so dark it may be too late for them to build a life together. With love on his side, Seth sets out return the sunshine to Corey’s soul.
Warning: Contains two hot gay men who love sunshine, sex that makes the plants and trees grow, and a big bad wolf who will do anything to win the man he loves.