Let’s get this party started with the second “conversation” topic: How do I know when my manuscript is ready to submit?
The following is just my opinion on the matter. Different things work for different people. I’m assuming you don’t want to know about my failed submissions, so I’ll tell you how it worked for me with MATCHED. And as you read on, you’ll find out why the girl in the picture below is my secret weapon when it comes to revision…
*First, I wrote the book, which took from Fall 2008 to August 2009. (I was working on another project at the time as well-BEING SIXTEEN. But it does usually take me nine months to a year to write a book. I am slower than many authors I know.)
*I knew from writing my other books that I had to give myself time off from the manuscript in order for it to be good. So, after I’d revised it several times, had my first-round readers go through it, and made all the changes I could, I took a month off before coming back.
*Then I had even more people read it. By the time I was ready to submit, I had had thirty people read it. That is wayyyy too many, FYI. While all the readers were great, it was just way too many voices. So I wouldn’t recommend thirty readers. Maybe five. Five would be good, if they are good readers. You MUST get a reasonable amount of feedback and work through it. Over and over.
*Then I revised it again. Significantly. Several times. And then, the key…
*I have an “it’s getting worse” reader. Elaine. My sister (pictured above) is unbelievable. She has read MATCHED so many times. And she is fantastic at being honest and discerning. So, as she read the revisions, she was able to tell me when I started spinning my wheels. When she sent it back and said, “This is getting worse, not better,” I knew it was time to fish or cut bait.
*And, also: I had a deadline coming up for another book with Deseret Book and I was almost out of time to get that in.
So here is my equation (which is super scientific and very, very mathematical) regarding how you can know when it’s time to send your book in:
Manuscript + extensive revision + a month off + feedback from x amount of trusted readers + more revision + your most trusted reader telling you it’s time to let go + other important things in your life getting overrun by book = time to submit.
And if you do want to know why my previous submissions failed to result in an agent, I can sum it up for you in this second, also very scientific equation:
general badditude* of writing + not enough time spent away from manuscript/in revision = rejection.
Opinions? Questions? Let’s talk.
*I think this should be a word, and you read it here first.