So You’ve Written a Manuscript . . . Now What?

Manuscript babyDespite my lack of words when it comes to blogging and/or new work over the past couple of months, I have slowly but steadily been working on editing the manuscript of my YA/NA novel that I finished a full draft of last December. Along with that draft I had written a sample Agent Query , a sample Submission Cover Page, and a summary. I sent that (along with a revised chapter) to my Instructor for the course I was taking, all before my father passed.

To tell you the truth, the day after my father passed away, I completed a major edit of  the full document because I needed to focus on something other than my sadness. That may seem weird but it was what I needed to do.

As I waited for a response from my instructor, I sent the draft to some readers, and then did another revision based on their feedback. I finished that completely last week (or maybe two weeks ago, I don’t remember). The response from my instructor came about a month ago, followed quickly with my “diploma” for having completed the course. His comments and suggestions made me feel like I had a solid submission packet ready to go, with a few minor corrections/changes.

Still, it took me a long time to face the process. I kept finding excuses, such as I was waiting for updates on publishers or didn’t have time to find agents, or my office was too much of a mess to work in, or I forgot to bring the notes I needed to make the edits, no matter how minor, or . . .

The real problem, beyond my personal struggle and sadness, is my fear of rejection. If I send it out there and get nothing but rejection, will I ever have the courage to publish it anyway? Or will it lie gathering dust in my pile of discarded dreams, along with the manuscript of Giving Up the Ghosts that I gave up on long ago?

Here’s the reality that we all must face as writers. There are, of course, those of us who write purely for the pleasure of putting words on the page, with no intention of sharing those words. (I have journals and journals of those kinds of writing). However, if you have even the tiniest desire to have someone else read what you write, then  you must do something to put it out there, to have people read it. It does no good sitting in your computer or printed out in a pile of manuscript pages where it does nothing but gather dust.

An unread piece of fiction is nothing more than words without a home.

So what do we do with these manuscript babies?  In our world we now have several options:

  • Find an agent (which means being prepared for many rejections or simply non-responses)
  • Try to submit to traditional publishers on our own (which is hard as so many publishers want agented submissions only, and it also means being prepared for many rejections)
  • Self-publish

I’m not against the self-publishing option, and may end up going that route. However, over the past year or so I’ve read a lot of self-published books. Some of them have been excellent. Many of them could have been excellent if they had a once over from an editor or an outside-eye. It’s difficult to edit our own work, especially for beginning authors. Add to that the pressures of doing layout, creating covers, and promoting our own works and sometimes the work seems to suffer.

I don’t want that to happen to my work.

So, I’ve decided to try the traditional route first. I’m looking for agents. I may submit the full manuscript to one or two publishing houses that accept unagented works. While I wait, I intend to look into formatting the manuscript for a professional looking self-publishing approach and decide on the best platform if that ends up being my path.

All of this, of course, requires a plan and action on my part. Something which I find challenging at the moment, except in brief bursts of focused energy. Yesterday I finally got over my excuses, brought the notes, fixed the edits and prepared the material to submit to the one agent I had already selected. Now I need to buy some ink, and send it off. Once I had done all that, I began to search for other possible agents. I found a couple who looked interesting, who only accepted submissions on-line. The ink excuse no longer worked. So, I cut and paste and submitted. (I also had to write a one page summary which has now been added to the materials I am ready to submit.)

Today I signed up for a writer’s conference this May (I wasn’t really procrastinating on this one, there was a big mess-up with my pay this month so I had to wait until I had some money). I plan on submitting the first chapters for a feedback session at the conference.

Excuses are no longer acceptable.  The book is written, now it needs a home.


18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. deborahbidwell
    Feb 21, 2013 @ 13:57:02

    Thank you for the inspiration, I too have the beginnings of a book that has been traveling with me daily without much attention to it (I add more to it during breaks at work, and on evenings that I don’t feel the need for sleep). I will also forward a copy of your blog to a co-worker who is skilled, I have read a couple paragraphs of her work and she has skill, maybe you can inspire her too 🙂


  2. deborahbidwell
    Feb 21, 2013 @ 13:57:47

    Reblogged this on DeborahBidwell's Blog.


  3. thebestdigger
    Feb 21, 2013 @ 14:00:04

    Way to go! Getting all that done is the essential thing. So much tedium against no creativity is very hard for creators. Waiting for what seems to be the slowest of professions….how can deciding what will sell or not is what their experience is, no? You put out your best effort. Someone will love your baby. Or not. What matters is that you believe in your work. Bravo! And thanks so much for laying out the traffic. Rejection is a small matter. But a big hurdle. You got it done. Let’s hope someone is smart enough to recognize your winner.
    Barbie Ayars


    • Lisa Wields Words
      Feb 21, 2013 @ 15:06:42

      Thanks Barbie. This post was partially inspired by your comment on Facebook yesterday, so thanks for that too.


      • thebestdigger
        Feb 21, 2013 @ 16:15:32

        So many of us abandon really good stuff because we don’t know where the doors ar on which to knock, or we wander around knocking on wrong doors because we don’t know right from wrong. More of us might be published if we knew how to begin. Who gets a query, who gets a summary, when and how, and what’s the procedure and I’m still asking after two expensive courses on how to. Why so much mystery? So many people hold that info secret. I don’t get it, so your step by step is so helpful. Again, thank you.


  4. Andra Watkins
    Feb 21, 2013 @ 15:10:00

    Lisa, I’m so glad to hear that you’re proceeding with this book. You’ve worked so hard on it, and you’re taking a logical, systematic approach to what can be a very maddening, demoralizing process. We don’t often get ‘yes’ in life without a whole lot of ‘no’ in many areas. I try to remember that every time I get a ‘no’ on a manuscript……and I’m not far behind you. I get my book back on Monday and should be submitting by mid-March. Please keep me posted on how things are going for you.


    • Lisa Wields Words
      Feb 21, 2013 @ 15:11:50

      You’ll be one of the first to know, especially since this manuscript is found in a folder called “Andra’s Story” the title is actually The Power of Words, but both seem appropriate to the inspiration behind my main character. 😉


  5. lisaspiral
    Feb 21, 2013 @ 19:05:00

    I agree it’s really scary to take the next step but it’s scarier to think of that manuscript in a drawer collecting dust. Go for it!


  6. joannevalentinesimson
    Feb 23, 2013 @ 00:12:20

    Lisa, Glad to see you’re out of the funk! Go ahead and take the next steps.
    I’m kind of stuck in the same process. Revising, revising, revising and afraid to send out to agents. I had several rejections and “non-responses” last year and should try again soon, if I can get myself up for it.


    • Lisa Wields Words
      Feb 23, 2013 @ 06:22:47

      Hi Joanne,

      I’m not sure I’m fully out of it, but I’m pushing through it and making myself do this was helpful. I realized that, even though rejection is painful, its really not the end of the world. It’s worse not to try.


  7. 4amWriter
    Feb 23, 2013 @ 16:08:44

    I, too, have been going through a rut. January/February/March tend to bring me to my knees anyway because I suffer from SAD. But, I did manage to kick myself into gear.

    I’ll be cheering you on, Lisa. I know how tough it can be. 🙂


  8. Kathy
    Feb 23, 2013 @ 16:09:53

    I hope your work will find a home. I felt that same fear of rejection more than once. Guess we all have to face it…face it squarely, and stand strong no matter what response the Universe gives us. I wish you much luck!


  9. Victoria-writes
    Feb 26, 2013 @ 05:53:36

    Good luck Lisa!


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