Monday, April 2, 2012

When To Hit Send?

Photo in Flickr Creative Commons by Horia Varlan

 A few weeks back, I wrote a post on After You Hit Send. After working on sending out my full, I have come to realize the big question... 

When to Hit Send? 

I sat there, with my finger poised on the mouse...one small touch would send off my manuscript into cyberspace all by its lonesome...with no assurance that it would be of any interest at all. I quickly texted my fabulous crit partner (Alleycat Ashley) and asked her,

"When do you know when you are ready to submit?" 

It felt weird to say that it was ready. Like I was being too rash...too presumptuous that it was polished enough. Ashley wrote back:

"Do you feel at peace about where it is?
 If the recipient were to reject you, would you feel good about it, like you gave it your best shot?" 

Oooh, good questions, don't you think? I pondered them, and looked back on all the steps I took to get to these final two questions. There were quite a few steps, and some were lengthy, but these steps helped inch that manuscript closer to cyberspace in the long run:

Photo in Flickr Creative Commons by goXunuReviews
  1. POLISH: After typing 'The End', you most certainly are not at the end, really. It's only the beginning of the next phase...Editing. Typos, sentence restructure, plot inconsistencies, character arcs...don't get too dizzy. Alleycat Sarah wrote a great series on the Self-Editing Checklist to help with this step.
  2. SEND IT: Not to agents or editors..but to friends and colleagues. Find some friends who read, preferably your genre, as well as professionals (that you know!) and/or crit partners. Get their overall feedback, suggestions...and wear thick skin!
  3. POLISH once more, according to their feedback...at least the feedback you want to listen too. One of my friends told me a major plot point wasn't believable, but I didn't agree. Fortunately, the Alley Cats are a great sounding board and confirmed my hunch. Checks and balances are important when it comes to your story and your voice. If you feel strongly about why you wrote it, how you wrote it, and get some resistance from readers at this step, make sure you are honest with yourself, but also stand your ground if it's important. (It's always nice to have a crit partner at this point, because then you have someone who knows how you write, your story, and about the writing craft.)
  4. FORMATTING is sometimes an afterthought, but SO important to make your piece really shine. Be sure you have the chapters numbered correctly (I have found this mistake more than once in my own manuscript), and that your margins are 1", a readable font through out, and proper spacing for chapter breaks, scene breaks... all that fun technical stuff. (Blah!)
  5.  STEP BACK and marvel at your shiny piece. You have accomplished a great feat. It's something to smile about!
  6. SLEEP ON IT. 2 a.m. is not a good time to hit that button. You'll want to skim through any new parts you've added and be sure you've gotten all those pesky typos. Tired eyes aren't trustworthy.
  7. TEXT your crit partner for final encouragement....and move to the next step:
  8. ASHLEY'S QUESTIONS: Yes, friends, they are from the mouth of a very trustworthy friend and crit partner, and I suggest you ask yourself also:
  •   Do you feel at peace about where it is? 
  •  If the recipient were to reject it, would you feel good about it, like you gave it your best shot?

If you can honestly say yes to both of these, then you are ready!

Now to tackle that query! Here's an older post to give you a start.

Any other steps you take to make your manuscript shine?

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Angie Dicken first began writing fiction as a creative outlet during the monotonous days of diapers and temper tantrums. She is passionate to impress God's love on women regardless of their background or belief. This desire serves as a catalyst for Angie's fiction, which weaves salvation and grace themes across cultures. She is an ACFW member and CEO of a family of six.

10 comments:

Lindsay Harrel said...

I really like the question...do you feel like you gave it your best shot? Even that can be hard to know if you're a perfectionist, but I think at some point, you've done all you know how to do and you just need to move on and go for it!

Jeanne T said...

I appreciate the things you share to consider before hitting SEND. Each of your steps make a lot of sense. Getting feedback from others, but also considering why you wrote certain elements into the story are important.

Having a humble spirit seems key in the process leading up to pushing SEND. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Angie!

Melissa Tagg said...

Awesome advice, Angie!

Pepper said...

GREAT post, Angie.
And feeling ready to hit send does not always end in 'apparent' positive responses - but it still is a good thing.
If we follow all the steps you've listed before we send and still get a rejection...that's not necessarily a BAD thing.
It's not fun - of course,
but even a rejection is a good teaching tool.

Angie said...

Lindsay, I liked that question too!! It allowed me to view it in my own capacity, without feeling the need to compare it to others...which is hardly ever the way to go about things!:)

Angie said...

Jeanne, if anyone needs a spirit of humility, they should become an aspiring author! Oh my, this road has certainly humbled me many times!

Angie said...

Thanks, Melissa!

Angie said...

Pep, I hate to jinx my recent submission...but I will say that every tough rejection I've received, has grown me as a writer...eventually...after I throw a fit and have a pity party, of course!:)

Pepper said...

Yep and Amen, sister.
I have my little pity party/fit too :-)

Jenn said...

Oh, Alleycat Ashley, you are wise. Those are great questions that helped me determine, yes, I'm ready to hit send. :)

Thanks for this post!