When your book is ready for an agent/publisher
It’s hard to figure out when your book is ready for an agent, an editor, or a publisher. You write it, revise, send it to beta readers, revise again, stare at it for a few more weeks, hate it, love it, then hate it again. That’s about right, correct?
But when are you done? When is your book ready for querying or publishing?
You’ll never think you’re done, but there are a few things you should do before you stop clicking that keyboard.[bctt tweet=”It takes more than you’d think to know you’re done #writing your book. #amwriting #writetip #writerslife #writingtips” username=”CayceBerryman”]
When to look for beta readers
At some point, enough is enough. If you’ve been revising, great. If you haven’t started yet, I have a seven-part series on revising to help you out here.
It’s time to look for beta readers after you can’t find any plot holes, character flaws, or unnecessary scenes/chapters/etc. Condense your story as much as you can. If you’re down to chopping words, it’s time.
Some writers seek an editor from the beginning. They revise their manuscript a few times then go editor hunting (Don’t use weapons. We bleed ink, and you don’t want that much red on your manuscript, do you?) Others use beta readers before an editor. Some go straight to the editor and skip the revision stage completely. I don’t suggest the last one.
No matter what you do, keep in mind that you’ll always get feedback. However, you need that feedback. When you’re just picking apart your manuscript—changing sentences around that don’t matter, taking out a word and putting another in its place—you’re probably ready for your beta readers/editor. You need the new eyes to go through it so they can pick it apart and tell you what doesn’t make sense, what’s boring, what parts are unnecessary, where more explanation is needed, etc.
You won’t find that on your own.
During the beta read
While you have readers digging into your book, you can start drafting queries if your plan is to publish traditionally. This is a difficult thing to do, and it’s a perfect way for you to kill time. I don’t have a lesson on writing queries yet, but research a bit and you can find some great resources.
After you receive feedback, your query might change if the story changes. That’s okay. For now, writing a query will at least help you practice drafting short summaries of your book. Don’t expect to come up with your best one after the first, second, or even tenth query. Yes, it’s a hard thing. Don’t be discouraged. It’s so hard, I haven’t written about queries on purpose. I want to make sure I can get it right, first.
After the beta read
Like I said above, change the query if you need to. You might even ask your beta readers to read through your strongest query and critique it since they have the story in their head.
After you make necessary revisions and receive all feedback from all your beta readers, you’re not done.
You need a copyeditor. I get it; many writers who want to publish traditionally don’t think they need to pay an editor thousands of dollars to go through that developmental editing process. I won’t go on a tangent about why I think you should, but I will tell you to at least get it copyedited. Why? What agent/publisher wants to deal with a sloppy manuscript? Zero. And if you find one who does, you better do your research because there might be a problem.
After the copyedit
This is going to sound exhausting, but when your copyeditor finishes their job and you go through and accept all those changes, step away for a while. Hopefully, you stepped away from the book before you did your first revisions. Now, step away and breathe.
When you return, read the entire thing. Seriously. If you took out the ex-boyfriend in chapter two, you might have forgotten to take out the mention of his name in chapter twenty. If your beta reader told you that the mom’s death was too early in the main character’s life and you change that, perhaps you forgot you mentioned it again later in the book. Read the finished product as if you were going to put it directly on the shelf for people to buy. Remember, you’re trying to sell this idea to someone who will sell this to a publisher. A publisher receives tons of manuscripts all the time. Even if you’re going straight to a publisher, they get tons of manuscripts all the time. Don’t take this step for less than what it is. Read. Your. Book. Treat it how it deserves to be treated.
Sure, you can make tiny little changes throughout your read if you need to, but your main goal here is to catch any lingering mistakes or plot holes that might have been missed throughout all those changes you made.
You did it. You gave your book the love it deserves, and now it’s time. You should have been working on your queries all this time, so now you can customize each one to fit the publisher’s desires. Make your list of publishers and agents to send to, do your research, and prepare for all those rejection responses. That will be okay. All the work you put into your book will show when the time is right, but for now, take a breath, hit that send button, and congratulate yourself.[bctt tweet=”It’s almost time to aim for publishing! #amwriting #amediting #writerslife #writetip #writingtips” username=”CayceBerryman”]
Write for yourself, but edit for your reader.