Twelve hundred white socks that have no apparent match and you wonder if they ever did.
I imagine the slush pile as endless as the sock basket - and about as exhausting. What a job?!?
Which manuscript will be a match for that certain publishing house? Which one will be pulled from the endless mass of white to find a home at the foot of an interested editor? You know the socks that are easiest to match?
Well in my house, it’s the ones with the color coded ‘HANES’ on the bottom.
Blue for my oldest son, green for my middle son, and red for my youngest son. My oldest daughter has purple, my youngest daughter – pink. Big for the adults. Little for the tiny people.
That’s how I find a match (if I’m every going to find one), so…. It makes me wonder, what ‘colors’ pop out to an editor? What grips him, or her, to see if your manuscript is a match for their publishing house?
BLUE – Follow the publisher/editors guidelines when submitting the manuscript. Does this editor or publishing house publish the type of book you write?
GREEN – Begin with a bang. Hook them from the first paragraph. If your socks are going to stand out in the pile, color is a definite PLUS – so take those first few sentences and bring them to life. An editor reads thousands of manuscripts and your first sentences need to be gripping enough to keep the editor reading.
RED – Proper grammar and syntax keep the editor/publisher from being pulled out of your story.
PURPLE – Is the right person telling the story? Point of view? Is it deep point of view? Is the reader drawn into your story or your character’s head?
PINK – Your voice. No, you don’t have to sing. As I write more and more, I’m beginning to understand the phenomenon of the ‘voice of the writer’. It’s a particular ‘tone’ that makes your writing style authentically ‘you’.
BIG – Is the plot interesting? Believable? (I didn’t write possible, there are plenty of plots that are not physically possible (sci fi, fantasy, vampires), but they are written in a way that makes them believable. Is it original and new? If not, does it add a different twist onto an old/familiar plot?
LITTLE – how are your cosmetics in the story? Your descriptions and turns of phrases? Is it a fluid read, with well-placed adjectives and powerful action words? Active voice? What do I do with the socks that don’t match after about the fifth time trying? They find the bottom of my trashcan. As you and I grow as writers, the ‘colors’ of our black and white print will draw more attention, be more meaningful and well written, and hopefully become the perfect match for just the right agent.
Inspirational note: We’re all a work in progress. AND – we’re all drowning in the slushpile. What made us stand out to God that he would pull us from the heap? Nothing.
BUT – His son’s love, written in red, wrote a new story on our hearts and we’re bestseller material now. A NEW creation. When God writes the story for His kids’ lives – they NEVER get a rejection letter :-)
Pepper Basham writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She’s a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a mom of five, a speech-language pathologist, and a lover of chocolate. In the wee small hours of the morning, she spends time talking to her imaginary friends and writing stories about them. She writes a variety of genres, but enjoys sprinkling her native culture of Appalachia in them all. She currently resides in Johnson City, TN where she works as a university instructor, searches for unique hats to impress her friends, and plots new ways to annoy the wonderful ladies at Seekerville. You can find her on her personal blog, Words Seasoned With Salt¸ or at her group writing blog, The Writers Alley. She is extremely blessed to be represented by 2012 ACFW Agent of the Year, Nicole Resciniti.