I Finished My Manuscript-Now What?

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Now that you’ve written an amazing manuscript, you can’t wait to send it out into the big wide world of publishing. Don’t do it! Well, not yet anyway. If you want to see your book in print, always have that as your goal. But, you’ll also need to do a lot more work on it. So let’s talk about what you need to do to get your book agent/publisher ready.

First, once you’ve finished your manuscript, let it sit. Most editors and agents will tell you to not look at it for at least a couple of weeks, a month is better. Work on another project. Then when you go back and look at it again, you’ll be able to see things that you can improve on.

Now that you’ve let it stew for a bit, read through the entire manuscript from beginning to end. Resist the urge to edit. Make notes in the margins, or if you use Microsoft Word, use the “New Comment” tool under under “Review.” Now that you’ve read it through, go back and start your revisions. Do this at least two or three times. With Soulfire I must have edited and revised that book multiple times over a span of about seven years. However with my most current manuscript, it only took me a month to revise it, (after letting it sit for several weeks). It just depends on the individual book. My seven-year book was highly research involved.

When you are happy with your manuscript ask for a couple of readers. No, you may not ask your mom or best friend.  If you need your ego stroked, then have them read it. They are bound to tell you it’s perfect. But if you want to be published, get a real beta-reader. They will give you your most valuable helps. What’s a beta-reader? It’s someone who is a writer or someone who is an avid reader. Just make sure you give your book to someone who will give you great feedback.

I like to send out my manuscript at least three different times and to at least three different readers each time–for a total of nine readers. I always have a goal in mind when I send my manuscript out to my beta readers. The first time, I ask readers to look for inconsistencies, anything that reads poorly, anything that feels out of place or wrong. I ask them to give their honest reaction to the book. After I get the manuscript, I take a serious look at what they have to say and make more revisions. I send it out again with the same instructions to my second set. My third time out I ask specific questions. For instance, in my current WIP I needed to make sure that I had all my football terminology correct, so I gave it to a football player.

Now, I’m incredibly lucky to have a final beta-reader, whose opinion I’ve really come to rely on. She’s my last set of eyes before I send it to a publisher/agent. Her specific goal is to look for misspellings, grammar, commas–basically line edits. I just got back notes on my WIP this week, and I plan on spending a couple of days going over her notes, and then it’s off to the publisher, who, by the way, has asked for a full manuscript based on my pitch session with him. Wish me luck…and happy revising!

Are you ready to send your darling out?