With the way publishing is going, with fewer and fewer books being accepted, having your manuscript polished so it needs little work is going to give you your best chance of success. No matter how good your story is, if the publisher sees that they have to pay an editor thousands of dollars to make it ready for publishing they will reject it.
If writers write without the necessary skills and prior knowledge of what publishers are looking for, they end up with the kind of manuscripts I read weekly; ones that are nowhere near publishing ready. If the writers of these manuscripts don’t take advice on how to improve them and self-publish, they end up as the type of eBooks that are flooding the market and giving self-published books a bad name. The authors of these books are also giving themselves a bad name and spoiling their chances of ever being published by a publishing house.
After the first draft, a writer needs to know how to edit their writing and polish it to the standard necessary before it is submitted. They can’t do it themselves if they don’t know what is necessary. One alternative is to hire an editor to polish it for them and pay thousands of dollars. Wouldn’t it be better to invest in a little education and never have to pay an editor again?
Would you go to a doctor who just decided to be a doctor without learning how to do that first? Becoming a successful writer is the same. What we learnt at school is not enough to make you successful writer. My advice is to take as many writing courses as you can to improve your writing.
Below are some of the things I find missing in the manuscripts I read.
Strong well developed characters, each different from the other.
Many writers make the mistake of having characters who are too similar to each other and not well enough developed. Humans are not the same; we are multidimensional beings. While some people may have one or two similarities, we also have several different beliefs and habits. To keep our readers hooked on the story we need them to relate to our main character or characters and care enough about them to want to read on and find out what happens to them.
A sense of place is another thing that is frequently missing. When we read a novel with a graphic description of the setting, we are transported to that place. If the description is too brief, then we have no idea what physical situation our characters are in and we lose interest.
Passive writing is another problem. Passive sentences flatten a scene – especially an action scene. Some are okay, but the industry norm is no more than 6% of passive sentences in a manuscript.
Emotion is often missing. Many stories I read tell us just the facts. If we don’t understand how our characters feel about a situation they are in then we won’t relate to them.
Do yourself a favour and invest in workshops that will save you thousands and cost you much less.