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When to submit your manuscript

March 22, 2010

Revision update: On chapter 21 of 30. I had a productive weekend, and I hope to continue and be done in a few days.

This will definitely be my last revision before I submit, but the question of when to submit a manuscript, when to know it’s done, always leaves me a bit nervous. I submitted my first novel too early, then did a bit of a rewrite and submitted to new agents. Ultimately, although the book got lots of great feedback, it wasn’t as good as it should have been and it didn’t land an agent. I don’t want to make that mistake this time around, but how can I be sure when it’s ready?

There is advice on this out in the writing blogosphere, such as agent Mary Kole‘s post, agent Jessica Faust‘s post, and one from Omnific Publishing. They all talk about revising and revising, getting other writers that you trust to read it and give you notes, leave your manuscript for a month or so and look at it again. But after you’ve done all that, how do you know if it’s as perfect as it can be?

I like agent Kate Schafer Testerman‘s advice best: If you’re down to just tweaking, i.e. fixing word choices, etc., and the main story and characters are as good as they can be, then you’re ready to submit.

I’m at that point. I’ve fixed my story holes in previous revisions, fixed plot problems, made the characters stronger. I’ve also had the manuscript read by several beta readers and gone through the book with their notes. Now, I’m tweaking. I’m fixing word choices, making sentences stronger and paragraphs clearer. So, when I’m done with this round, I’ll start submitting.

Of course, there’s always that nervous thought that maybe I’m too close to the story to see other faults or that maybe my best won’t be good enough for the publishing world. For the first, I’m trusting my beta readers. For the second, well, those thoughts will always be there, so, my advice to myself: Trust yourself. Trust the work you’ve put into this book, your heart, your time, your passion. Trust that you have done your best, because that’s the most important thing.

And ultimately, if I don’t get the attention of someone in publishing, I can always try again with another book.

What do you think? How do you know when you’re done with a manuscript?

Write On!

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