So you’ve done it. You’ve written your first book, had favorable feedback from everyone you’ve shown it to, and spell-checked it for the millionth time. Now all that’s left to do is send it off to an agent or publisher, right? The answer is of course, yes, but before you do you might want to ask yourself the following questions…
Is The Work Ready?
Is it the best it can be? Are you kind of there but figure it’s good enough? Are you hoping a good agent will see past any flaws because they can recognize the gold underneath? You might get lucky and that could happen, but generally, agents and publishers are busy people and don’t have time to look at submissions that are ‘good enough’.
It needs to be as perfect as you can make it.
Submitting is cutthroat, and lots of people are doing it. If your work isn’t the best that you know it can be, then all you’re doing is wasting everyone’s time (including your own) and collecting rejections. The work must be ready, so before you press submit, make certain that it is.
Are You Ready?
You will be rejected. If you aren’t ready for it, if you’re not mentally prepared to be told ‘no thanks’, consider waiting until you are.
If you’re not in the right head space, just one rejection is enough to make you want to give up on your publishing dream. You don’t want to give up. You haven’t come this far to give up.
Ensuring that you are mentally ready will go a long way to helping you pull past that first, second, tenth or twentieth rejection. I’m not saying you can’t be upset every time a rejection hits your inbox, I certainly am, but you need to be in a place where you can grieve, shake it off, and keep going.
Has Your Work Been Professionally Assessed?
If you can afford to get this done then I highly recommend it. I saved up in order to have two assessments done on my first completed manuscript, and they were both worth it. While beta readers are handy (and free when it’s family and friends), unless they are professional editors, they cannot give you the type of feedback you will need to ensure your manuscript is ready for publisher submission.
A professional assessment covers voice, story structure, grammar, characters, head hopping and all the other intricate elements of a story that only a professional who looks at books for a living can provide.
If you can’t afford to have a professional assessment, find a critic group made up of other writers, either in your local area, Facebook, or on the Internet. While friends and family can give you great reader insight, you also need industry professionals, such as unbiased writers and editors who know how story structure works, the effort that goes into a book, and what you will need to do with your manuscript to get it up to a salable standard.
Now that you know the questions, ask them to yourself, and really assess if you’re ready to hit submit. If you are, take to the task with enthusiasm, and enjoy the ride.
– K.M. Allan