Monday, May 6, 2013

Monday Quickie: Get Your Manuscript "Shelf Ready"

Good Monday to you all! Good enough for another installment of:

The Quickie

This is where I  post a QUICK WRITING TIP. A writing skill everyone should know. Whether it be technical or creative, useful or not, I'm gonna give it to you! You're gonna be daydreaming about cowboy hats and singing the Tim McGraw & Faith Hill song, "Let's Make Love."

Okay, maybe not. Here's the Quickie for today:


 So what the crap does that mean? Never fear, I got some bullet points for that:
  • Don't query until your MS is polished. Like completely, totally, and obsessively shiny.
  • Don't submit your MS to agents/editors/publishers until your MS has seen many sets of critique partners' and beta readers' eyes.
  • Don't tell yourself, "It's good enough...if I can just land an agent, she will help me get it where it needs to be to sell."
  • Don't ignore your intuition (your internal editor) when it's telling you that your MS needs more work.
  • Do be brutal with yourself. Listen to hard advice, cry over challenging notes from CP's, sweat the hard scenes out, let yourself stay up late at nights once in a while while you work out the kinks.
  • Do be patient. We've all heard the stories of writers snatching up agents and book deals after minimal work. Don't rely on that applying to you.
Now having said that, even after all the hard work you can do on your own and with writing partners, the pros will probably still have a ton of work for you to do to get it "shelf ready" all the way. I revised for over six months before I landed my agent. And then she had me revise with her for nearly four months before we went out on submission. But here's the best part of the story--when I had my first teleconference with my editors they were very complimentary about how polished my MS was. It was "shelf ready" by the time they saw it and that's what made it a quick sell for them.

On another note, who's going to spoon with me at the Storymakers conference this week? I am so excited to see so many of you, I can't stand it!


  1. Great advice! Love the new look!

  2. Well, I don't know about spooning (not sure what the Mrs. would think of that), but I'm totally excited to see you at the Storymakers again! And agree with your post, on all points! :)

  3. GREAT advice! Wish I were going to be at Storymakers. One of these years, for sure. :)

    And P.S. Throwing some congratulations your way on my blog. :)

  4. I think the polish and patience are key pieces!

  5. Patience is a virtue. Thanks for a great quickie. Wait....just kidding.

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  7. Thanks for the great writing tips. I'll be there baby!

  8. This is very good advice. I'll be there!

  9. I wish I'd listened to my inner gut about my ms needing more work before handing in my R&R. I query way too early. I gave in my R&R after working on it for a YEAR (so I thought it was ready, and I could *not* look at it anymore) (4 months after handing it in), I am realizing it is NOT. And I handed it what's done is done. I'm definitely going to listen to my gut from now on, if it means delaying things for a little bit longer... :-) Have a blast at the conference, Jessie and I can't wait to read Ruby's story in just a few months!!!!!! :-)

  10. Ugh! I'm so impatient. I want to send my MS in NOW! I'll sit by you in classes and at meals but I will not spoon you.

  11. I'll spoon with you anytime ;) This is one of the hardest things to do as a writer, but it's so worth it!

  12. Great advice. I'm doing another revision before I query. And trying to be patient as I see everyone else going faster than me.

  13. Great suggestions. It's hard to be patient but so worth it. Have fun at Storymakers!

  14. Good tips my darling Jessie! You ROCK woman! And I will most definitely be at Storymakers! I can't wait! See you there!

  15. Great tips, Jessie!

    I call first dibs on the spooning!

  16. Great nugget of knowledge. And have fun at Storymakers!!!

  17. well holy cow, check out the beautiful scene on your blog! keeps getting prettier! i love your advice. especially to go with your intuition!! yes!

  18. The blog looks all kinds of sexy! :)

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