Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Intern lessons: Take your finger away from the send button...

I've read a lot of manuscripts and written a lot of assessments since starting my internship with Entangled. I've seen the range, from great to 'did they just finish their first draft and call it done?'. The single most common thing I end up writing in those assessments is: the premise has great potential, but the execution just doesn't live up to it.

So often I see a manuscript that has the potential to be amazing, but the amount of work involved in making it so is just too much for a busy editor with a mountain of work already sitting on their desk. Often the issues with the manuscript are things the author could have fixed themselves, if they'd done a little research or sought the help of a CP or beta reader (or even just moved from draft 1 to draft 2). By not making that little bit more investment in their work those authors have lost a potential opportunity.

So, first intern lesson learnt: make sure you're sure, like really really sure, your MS is in tip top condition (and I don't just mean spelling mistakes) before sending it off to your dream publishing house/agent. Sometimes, when you've been working so damned hard on that story, it's easy to get impatient. If you're feeling impatient then find yourself a beta reader and use the time it takes them to read and assess your MS to take a step back and think about something else for a while. Who knows? Maybe they'll think your MS is ready too!

Mmk, I know that this intern lesson is one all my writer friends who read this already know. We follow the online writer community and educate ourselves on this stuff, right? (Surprisingly, a lot of the MSS I read with easy to fix issues come from authors who do have an online presence.) I've read a lot of agent blogs saying they wished people would make sure they were ready to submit before doing so, so it's not like it came as a surprise to me, but it is very interesting to see the trend in practice.

Have you every submitted or been tempted to submit, even though you know your MS isn't quite ready? What are your experiences with this?

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