Writer Q&As: When Is a Manuscript Ready to Be Submitted?

When do you know the manuscript is finished or polished enough to send it out? Nikki Hillman

This is the most frequent question that plagues writers, Nikki. We tackled part of this question in my September 4th Writer Q & A post but I will elaborate more this month because it’s such a vexing question with so many variables!

In my September 4th post I wrote:

“…writers struggle with [this question] no matter how much you have published… you will say “I’ve finished it” several times before you have…this happens throughout one’s entire writing life.”

Having just finished the final, 11th hour tweaking on my Final Proofs for Oscar of Between this morning, this process is very fresh in my mind! Here are three tips.

  1. Accept you’re in for a drawn-out process of checking everything from the macro (focus, structure, pacing, etc.) to the micro (details, consistency, clarity, authenticity, grammar).
  1. Shift your relationship to the manuscript by printing it off in a different font and in actual book page-sized format and see how it reads then seek an independent, skilled literary editor’s opinion.
  1. Ultimately, it must soar flawlessly. It’s finished when all the small, nagging edits are completed. These are the bits that distract the reader and cause them to lose their focus, trust, or interest; these are the bits that make you, the writer, squirm a little (“If I skim over this maybe my reader won’t notice I don’t know what I am saying here and skim over it too!”). This part of the process takes far longer than we expect BUT it is the part that makes all the difference between a good book and a great book. It’s finished when there are no more questions!

Answered by Betsy Warland.

Do you have a question about the craft of writing that you would like to have answered in this series? Please submit your questions to lindsay.glauser@gmail.com.

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Posted by: Lindsay Glauser