Don’t expect a long dissertation or bullet points or even common sense at this point. All writers are a little bit crazy when they finish a manuscript.
I just finished a story that I have been working on for years. It has been through more revisions than I have fingers and toes to count on. I’ve sent it to beta readers and read parts to my writing club members. I’ve acted on their suggestions because they are readers and know what they like to read. I even acted on the rejection letter I got from my one foray into the submission process, because the editor provided some clues as to why it wasn’t accepted. I finally feel I am ready to submit again.
Through the years I’ve learned that before submitting, the author should have her work professionally edited. I’d had the work edited for grammar and punctuation, but not particularly for content or style.
What worried me, being too close to the story after all these years, was that I somehow missed the overall scope of the story itself. Are there plot holes I missed? Does the story make sense? Are the characters real, likable, sympathetic? Will anyone want to read it?
This is what I know about publishing: Your chances are better if the acquisitions editor sees that your story has that professional touch right from the first paragraph.
I met a content editor who reads for overall structure, including plot and characterization. I hired her and signed a contract.
Now I am as nervous as if I’d sent it to an agent or publisher. Will she respond that my work is hopeless and that she threw her hands up after reading the first page? Will she be able to suggest corrections for the inevitable flaws she will find? Will she be encouraging or will she suggest I find another line of work, such as Walmart greeter, pronto?
I think all writers doubt their own work. It’s a miracle any of us send out submissions at all. But we build up a hard shell, each rejection providing another layer. Eventually, when that dreaded, “Sorry, we don’t think your story is right for our house, but best of luck elsewhere…” letter arrives in our in-box we don’t burst into tears, but sit down and send out another query.
Well, yes, it does still hurt–I won’t lie–but not as much as that first, second, or third rejection did. We learn that it’s all part of the publishing world. Not everyone gets accepted. The story may not be what the publisher is looking for, or they may have recently published a story too similar to yours, or maybe the person who picked up your query from the slush pile is having a bad day. it happens. We can’t control that.
But we can control some things. And one is making sure the manuscript is as polished and professional as possible before submitting it to an agent or editor.
Maybe I am wasting my money, but I don’t think so. I trust her judgment.
And now I am biting my fingernails, waiting to hear her verdict.