While you are waiting…on that book contract – Advice #2

So…you’re still waiting on that glorious contract for your completed manuscript to come through?  It’s been months of toe-tapping, nail biting, hair pulling exhaustion but you’re still alive and, for the most part, emotionally intact… until now.  You need something else to do.  Have you thought of:

—– Your Future, i.e.  coming up with a back-up plan —–

First of all, give yourself a deadline, an estimated time-frame for when you expect to receive a contract from that reputable publisher.  Mark it on a calendar, or even better, on a dry-erase board.  Next, really consider what you will do if a contract never arrives.  What’s your next step?  Consider your options, every angle and determine what’s best for you.

Should you self-publish, go with a vanity publisher, a small press publisher, or maybe ‘throw in the towel’ for now and re-visit the idea of publishing your book at a later time?  You can also consider the possibility of going into another creative arena you haven’t considered instead of writing books.  Whatever you do, consider your ‘end goal.’  What do you ultimately see yourself doing in the future?

If, for instance, you push the book aside to re-visit it later, give yourself a bit of time to step away from it and the hair raising stressful period you went through to try to get it published.  Continue living your life, doing things you like, enjoying your time apart and then come back to your book and edit it.  Polish up, at least, the first five chapters for that’s what publishers concentrate on.  As soon as they open your book, they want to be drawn in immediately- by the conclusion of the first chapter if not by the ending of the first three paragraphs of the manuscript.

Gone are the days of opening up the first chapter by rambling endlessly about the color and formation of the clouds in the sky or the crispness of the grass underneath among other references to nature that would have any modern day editor or publisher passed out and foaming from the mouth.  Unfortunately, the average reader wants immediate action at the very beginning of the book.  The slow periods can come later, when the characters are established, in Chapters 10-13 or even 27.

Look at action vs. passive words and tenses.  Eliminate filler words that are unnecessary to get the point across.  Do all this before re-submitting your manuscript a second time to different agents and publishers.  If you’ve self- edited the book and still don’t think you have it quite right, you might want to consider investing in a professional editor that could review the first couple of chapters if not your entire book.  Sometimes there are opportunities to have your first couple of chapters reviewed, as part of the fee you pay, when registering for writing classes online.

Have you considered a local writer’s critique group?  I must caution you on this, though.  Granted some critique groups may be awesome and filled with useful tips and information but be careful.  I would suggest attending one as a guest at the beginning, listening to the attendees read pieces of their work  and scoping out the writers in the group to determine if they are open to your genre.  I attended a critique group a few years ago, excited by the prospect of being among my own kind:  dedicated individuals who wrote books, were passionate about it and knew everything I was going through.  I looked forward to the camaraderie and support but what I got instead was personally insulted at the very beginning of the group session by a female writer who hadn’t even heard my work yet.  Of course, when she learned I wrote paranormal romance, she then insulted my topic while several others followed suit, unable to appreciate that I was writing a fictional story for pure entertainment purposes.  So, take heed my friends- joining a writing critique group can be a double edged sword.

Lastly, consider if you re-submit your work and there are still no takers.  What is your back-up plan then?  Create one and stick with it…just in case.

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