Sunday, October 23, 2005

PANEL: Are You Ready For Submitting



Cindy Appel, Lindsay Murdock, Deatra King Bey, Lyn Cote


SORMAG said...

I'll start the questions for today.

For the panel:

How do you know when your book is ready for submission?

I know I have a habit of revision, revision, revision and I never submit. HELP!

LaShaunda - 00

Deatri King-Bey said...

Hello LaShaunda,

I'll copy and paste your comment:
How do you know when your book is ready for submission?

I know I have a habit of revision, revision, revision and I never submit. HELP!

----------Honestly, you will never feel that your book is ready, and there are always rewrites that can be done, BUT, you must send out eventually.

Here is what I do.
1. Work with my critique group.
If the members of my critique group continually say things like, "This is perfect." or "Looks good to me." then it is time to get a new group. Especially on a first draft. You want people who will find the issues you missed. People who are not close to your work. Even when my mother reads my work, I tell her I want to hear at least three things I can do to improve my book.

2. Have readers who always have something negative to say to comment on my manuscript.
Okay, I'm not crazy, but these folks are the best. They will pick your story apart. Remember not to be defensive. Now I'm not saying everything they say will be correct. Just as your critique partners will not be correct all of the time. Take a few days to absorb what whomever said and try to see if they have a point.

3. Have your book edited professionally before you send it to a publisher. I know it is expensive, but this is your career. Plus you can apply lessons from your editing experience to your future projects. Then have your book proof read. Editing and proofreading are two different things.

4. If you skip the proofing, then make sure that you clean your document as much as possible before you submit it. This is of course after your rewrites. Whenever you are writing, you should use the tools that are in MS Word to help you with your spelling and grammar. These tools are not always 100% correct, but they are still extremely useful.

In Ms Word go to the main menu bar and select Tools-->Options-->Spelling and Grammar--> Make sure that Hide Spelling Errors and Hide Grammar Errors are not checked.
Then go to the pull down menu and select Check spelling and Grammar.

I suggest everyone take a basic grammar course if they want to write professionly. Keep your book and reference it. Many community colleges offer continuing education classes. I even take refresher courses.

I wish I could be more specific.

Okay, I'm otta here.

Much Joy Peace and Love

Leann said...

Very helpful--thanks Deatri

SORMAG said...

Thanks Deatri,

Very helpful. I guess it times to start up a critique group.

LaShaunda - 00

Linda said...

Good morning -- This is Linda!

I have listened to people who have become discouraged and tentative about their writing skills due to continuous rejections of their manuscripts. How does one recognize and go about separating constructive criticism from destructive criticism?

Linda! Badge #141

Cindy Appel said...

Hi everyone...

Well, I hate to break it to you but your book will NEVER be ready for submission! That's the bane of being a writer... We can't help but continue to fix, improve, rewrite, revise, etc., our manuscripts. Sometimes we go so far in the "revision game" that we edit and change just about everything that made the story fun to write and tell in the first place!

All I can advise is that you need to send in a "clean copy" (grammar, typos, spelling perfect) and it needs to be your "best writing". You don't get many second chances with an editor or agent, so you need to "wow" them first thing.

How to "wow" them? I think we're forgetting what most people want from a reading experience--they want to identify with the characters and feel the emotions they feel. If your clean copy makes the reader sigh, laugh, cry, worry, get angry, etc., then the manuscript is ready to submit.

After all, if the reader can identify with the heroine and fall in love with the hero, then you're not going to be able to sell your romance no matter how nice it looks on the page! ;)

Cindy Appel #19

Cindy Appel said...

Oops--I meant "if your reader CAN'T identify with your heroine and fall in love with your hero" then you won't be able to sell your romance no matter how nice it looks on the page. :)

(Sorry I should edit my comments first!)

Linda asks a very good question... How do you know when a criticism is constructive or destructive.
I'd say if the comment helps you better your story, then it's a good one and keep it and act on it.

But if the comment is just negative for the sake of being negative (i.e. "I hate your hero because he has a scar on his cheek") then I would sit back and think before acting on it. Is the scar an intergral part of the story? Does it reveal the hero's inner "scarred heart" that needs to heal before he can love again? Don't allow others' personal preferences to cloud your judgment on what you feel is important (or not) in YOUR story.

Criticism should be specific: grammar errors, typos pointed out, etc. Criticism should help make your story better: "I don't quite get a feeling for they heroine's attraction to the hero... Can you make it stronger?"

Criticism should never cut down your writing ability or taste in subject matter. That's just plain destructive criticism. The person may not realize it, but he/she is projecting his/her own thoughts/ideas/wishes into your writing... You are special and so is your writing. Don't act on those comments. Ignore them politely and trust your instincts.

Deatri King-Bey said...

Hello Everyone,

If I could agree with Cindy more than 100% on knowing which criticism to follow, I would.

I love to have people who tear holes in my books, but they always have a reason for why the do not feel this should be. I call these folks negative, but I think it's just that they do not care about hurting your feelings, they will tell it like it is. Just like when they like something, they say it.

You have to find the happy medium. Too many authors surround themselves with "yes" people. You need someone who will tell you what they liked and why, what they didn't like and why, and give you a few suggestions on how to improve.

Much Joy Peace and Love

Felecia Ellis said...

Deatri I agree with your comments on making sure the right type of people critique your work. I come from a family of writers and they are not shy about their comments. It's never anything hurtful, but always helpful. I've recently been able to have my work professionally edited and WOW what a difference. I've also found that the changes friends, family and coworkers suggested made my novella better. My first book Choas was not professionally edited, but has still received good reviews. My next book Mistaken Murder is being professionally edited and I can see the difference. It makes you feel good when an editor says your work is an easy edit.
Since I self-published the first time, I think that experience has made me adamant about submitting a clean manuscript. It actually takes me longer to make revisions than it does to write the books.

Deatri King-Bey said...

Hello Felecia,

Sounds like your writing career is headed down the correct path. Great job and congradulations on the second book. Keep up the good work.

Having a book professionally edited is a true experience isn't it? As I said, I'm an editor, and I must have my books edited. I need that outside eye to tell me what is actually on the page as apposed to what is in my head and I believe is on the page.

Much Joy Peace and Love

LynCote said...

Hi, So far the answers have been wonderful.
I would only add that entering contests helped me "see" where my ms. was weak. It's very hard for most of us to judge whether our prose stacks up.

Now contests can be a bane or a blessing. But entering several that promise to give back comments on your entry could be a good eyeopener.

It certainly taught me much. At a certain point after the initial forays, contests become unhelpful. But in a way that's good because that tells the writer that she/he's getting close to publishable quality.

For contests, I would recommend RWA. You don't have to be a member to enter most contests. And there are a wide variety of contests.

ONE BIG THING FIRST--Get your first ms DONE-FINISHED-THE END before you enter any contests. I think finishing the ms first is ABSOLUTELY VITAL! Just getting to The End is an education in itself.
And if you start messing around BEFORE it's done, you may strangle your creativity.
That's my opinion. Hope it helps.
BTW, I've listed an article on writing Dramatic SEntences on my website's ARticle Page, Go to and follow page directions. It's the 3rd article on the ARticle Page.
This article was published in the journal for the Writers Diget School of WRiting and many other publications.
Hope it helps.
Lyn Cote
Author of The Women of Ivy Manor series

Ann Clay said...

Hi everyone! I know I'm Johnny-come-lately, but couldn't miss the opportunity to participate. I have a computer novice at home who decided to practice on my computer and do I need to say more...

I agree with the others in saying you'll feel it's never ready, but even when you think it is, a professional editor looks for and find flaws/recommendation to work you thought was the best writing you've ever done.

I think the easiest thing to do is make certain you've done your very best before submitting your work. Consider the reader, make sure there are no holes in the story.

Sometimes having a reader read through your story first will help identify holes. If you keep it simple, I think you're less likely to use confusing words or plots. Elaborate words and phrases are not always needed to tell a story.

I'm still learning this craft, but I find studying and reading helps. It nothing else you should learn from your writing experiences and accept the opinions of people who have a genuine interest in seeing your work on paper.

Most of all, I think finishing a ms is an accomplishment in itself. The more you write, the more confident you'll grow in your work and will eventually learn when your work is ready for submission.

Ann - #41

Deatri King-Bey said...

Hello Ann,

Great words of wisdom. And we'd rather have you late than not at all.

Much Joy Peace and Love

Deatri King-Bey said...

Hello Lyn,

Good suggestion. I know quite a few folks who like contest. And find them valuable. I say do what works for you.

Thanks for your input.

Much Joy Peace and Love

Cindy Appel said...

Yes, contest can be helpful--and sometimes they can be a waste of time. If you have the funds and enjoy the competition, enter contests where you are assured of feedback...

MoRWA's "Gateway to the Rest" is a good contest since the judges have to fill out a long and complicated judging rubric that covers just about everything under the sun! Contests such as the Gateway can help you strengthen your writing and give you ideas on what works and what doesn't.

But if the contest takes your money and only promises a ribbon in return... I'd avoid it. :)

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