It’s funny how a writer can think a piece is done, then when the moment comes to submit, she realizes that in no way is it done. When I submitted my manuscript for the Soon to Be Famous contest, I knew it wasn’t ready, but it was due. Luckily, it was ready enough.
Since that submission, I sent it to Beta readers for feedback. As always, many people said they’d read it, but not so many actually did. I gave everyone a month, then received only one response. Ouch. The one I did get back, however, was extremely helpful (thanks, Carolyn!). I made some changes.
When I was announced as a finalist, a few people expressed a wish to read it. So, I obliged, wanting a few more bits of feedback. I got them! Turns out it’s much easier to get someone to read my work when they ask me.
I read through the manuscript again. It had been a while, and with time comes perspective. I made notes on what I wanted to change, then made those changes. The feedback I got solidified I was on the right path, for the most part, and assisted me in making more improvements. For the last step, I printed out the entire novel and read it out loud. Mostly, I did this when I was home alone, but a few times, I went downstairs or, one night, read in the bathtub with the faucet running. Call me crazy, but though I have no issue reading aloud to a crowd for the purposes of marketing, I have no desire to be overheard just reading my stuff. My husband had a good laugh. Whatever.
The novel could potentially never be finished. I could tinker with that baby indefinitely. However, I’m ready for it to move to the next stage. Copy editor! If I hadn’t won, I’d probably still be dorking around with it, but the prize gave me a nice urgency. So, I’ve reached out to my “handlers” at RAILS. I hope to hear this week about the time frame for the copy editing. Once that’s completed and I’ve made the appropriate adjustments, my novel should be ready to query (pitch) to agents. It’s pretty exciting.
Once the copy editor gets hold, there’s nothing I can do to the manuscript until it’s returned to me. In the meantime, I have the query letter ready and a very, very rough synopsis (play-by-play of the plot). So, I can spiff up the synopsis, have a short and long version, and take another look at the query and make adjustments there. I also need to do some research on comparative titles.
Agents and publishers like to have an idea of where a novel falls within the genres out there. This is one place where an “original” novel is a bad thing. Publishing is a business and they want to know that a novel they purchase is going to sell. If they can’t peg a market, then they don’t buy. So, I have to peg my market. It’s a business-y goal that sucks, since I’m not naturally business-y minded.
I listen to Writing Excuses, which is a great podcast, and they recently had an episode on comp titles which gave me a little hope. They couched it like a Venn diagram. The intersection of fans of X and fans of Y. I just need to figure out the X and the Y. It maybe doesn’t sound like progress, but it actually is for me.
Hitting benchmarks helps writers keep going in this long, slogging process. This week, I hit a really big one.