It’s been close to three years *cries* since I began writing ROTK, and it looks like the end is near. I’ve said this before…so many times I’ve thought “I AM DONE” only to realize I was a filthy liar and not really done.
But this time I am closer than I ever have been before, and with all the new things I’ve picked up after my pitch wars experience, I am setting a March 2016 deadline (flexible because you know how I feel about hard imaginary deadlines) to begin querying.
That gives me about six months to polish my MS for the fifth and hopefully final time before sending it out to agents. I am really excited, because despite my false starts, this time I realize just how far off I really was from being query ready, and now I know what my MS needs to get there or at least, pretty darn close. Here are a few things I recommend for making sure your own MS is ready for agent eyes:
- At least two edits after your first draft – I know it’s pretty easy to believe that all you have to do is write the book and send it off, or give it a once over for grammar etc but unless you’re a seasoned writer (and honestly even if you are) your book is probably not even close to ready after the first draft. It’s probably a big pile of crap with potential. So you most likely need at least two (or three more realistically) edits before you get it into better shape.
- Take a Closer Look at your Plot: Using the note card feature on Scrivener is a great tool to make sure each of your chapters are necessary and help move the plot forward. If you don’t have Scrivener, using a word document or real note cards works just as well. This technique is also great for getting your pacing sorted (or if your word count is too high/low and you need to find places to cut or beef up your MS)
- CP Help : Having critique partners is a great way to catch small mistakes, plot inconsistencies and weak points in your book. Running your MS through one or two CP’s before moving on to the next step is a great way to find out of if your MS is ready or close to it.
- Beta readers: Once you’ve self edited and gotten feedback from your CP’s, get a good group (three is a good number) of readers to give you their impressions on the book overall. Beta readers usually help more with big picture stuff, but I’ve had my beta’s point out more specific issues here and there as well.
- One more read through! – Just in case yo.
If you haven’t done this, at a minimum, you’re probably not ready to query. I would say most writers don’t go through all this fuss for their books, which makes sense considering the high amount of agent rejections/people who are new and still learning when they query. Querying too soon is one of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen among writers, take your time and make sure your MS is as tight as possible before sending it out. Don’t take the “Let me just see what happens” approach when you know you haven’t done as much as you should. I can tell you right now, “what happens” will probably be you not getting an agent. Sorry if that seems harsh but it’s better to consider these things NOW and not after you’ve queried.
I will be going to the Frankfurt Book Fair this month, and trying to work on the book whilst there though I probably won’t get much done with the crazy schedule. I’ll be blogging helpful stuff for authors from there/posting pictures on my Instagram so follow me if you’d like to see my face + beer and German food. I’ll blog another book update closer to the half way mark, so be on the look out for a Christmas time ROTK update. Thanks for reading!