What are your tips for aspiring writers

Tips for submitting a manuscript

When eBooks showed up, there was an explosion. But the biggest consequence was that indie writers didn't have to wait for a publisher to choose their book - goodbye, right? And best of all, now you don't have to spend a lot of money on self-publishing. You could do it online, which costs very little. So it's easy to assume that traditional publishing is losing its appeal to aspiring writers.

Not quite.

The most obvious consequence of the rise of independent publishing was the fact that traditionally published books gained credibility. When the reader knows anyone can put an eBook together and publish it on Amazon when they see a publisher behind you, they're ready to buy your book, especially if they like the blurb. So no, traditional publishing is still going strong, and NYT bestseller lists are more traditionally published than self-published (unless the book is published by a well-known author). In other words, it's still better to be published traditionally - although with a great book new writers can thrive if they self-publish.

So today we're sharing some manuscript submission tips by taking a look at the most common mistakes that are hindering your chances of getting published. It also happens that these mistakes hinder your chances of success if you choose to self-publish. Most people seem to think that manuscript errors include formatting, spacing, font, spelling, etc. Aside from the spelling and some unnatural formatting that hurts the eyes, what causes editors to reject your manuscript is a weak story full of gaps in the plot and weak characters. Below we have some of the most common mistakes to watch out for - they can completely ruin your book.

1. Opening with a happy scene

If you think that by showing readers how your characters were happy before the event that changed their lives has a better chance of loving readers then by all means give it a try. However, that does not make the reader likeable. The reader reacts emotionally when a character is in danger, even if they do not yet know the character. Open with a bang. Reminisce about life from the past. Make the reader wonder what the character would be like if things were normal. Make both your characters and your readers crave it, and readers will want to read every page of your book.

2. Dialog filler

Imagine a scene in which ten people who did not know each other meet for the first time. You will likely be tempted to write down every character that introduces themselves to each other. That's a lot of Hello, a lot of “I am” or “My name is”. Avoid that, and avoid introducing so many characters at once. It's difficult to keep track of things. Mention them in passing, save the characters for later - when you actually need them. Make every word count in your dialogue. Tension between characters talking. If your character speaks more than two sentences in a row, separate the words with actions in between. In real life, we seldom sit down and talk without gesturing our hands, drinking coffee, or adjusting the way we sit or stand. Especially when we stand, we show signs of impatience, we are not motionless robots.

3. Indirect retelling of important information

For example, if you've ever read a mystery book or a book in which the protagonist very quickly communicates that the information they need was brought to them by phone call or letter without the reader actually witnessing the event, then this is up the worst level. It doesn't show, and worst of all, readers don't see the protagonist's emotional reaction to the event - were they happy, sad, or scared? If they just say, "Mary called me that morning and told me about the artifact ..." There is no tension. The deed is done, and not only do readers get no chance to see how the call went, they stop bothering about the story, piece by piece, page by page. So show the call and the scene where the protagonist passes the information on to the reader - delete them because they are irrelevant anyway.

4. Two-dimensional supporting characters

Often times, the only character who appears real is the protagonist, and everyone else just fulfills their role without showing any personality. The technician is nothing more than the technician who solves the technical problems. The best friend comes up once to show the protagonist has one and then disappears until he's kidnapped or something (which of course begs the question of how and why, but usually the protagonist saves the best friend and that's it). The same role could be played by a relative, a love interest - that only exists to be a love interest. The protagonist and love interest hardly have any chemistry or connection, but they still fall deeply in love (how?). If you keep your characters so close to their roles that they're just bogus, then you won't get published and your readers won't care about your story. Good characters, and many of them, are at the center of every great story.

5. Missing editing

How do you know that there is a lack of proper editing? How do the editors know that you submitted the first manuscript you ever wrote without rewriting it, correcting it, checking for plot gaps, and perfecting the characterization?

Typos are of course a great giveaway, as are wrong words. A good proofreading where you are all you are and yours where someone is boasting instead of boats (both words are spelled correctly, but boats will show an editor that you are an amateur) will get you noticed.

Good characterization to come with, along with a tight plot, meaningful dialogue and no filler scenes, no filler anything, you get published. Can you do it Yes, you can, as long as you are incredibly objective and can criticize your own work without throwing it into the fire and giving up entirely. You can always get a freelance editor to help or a beta reader to keep an eye on things. Or a friend. You can proofread by yourself, but you won't be able to tell if your story isn't getting enough attention or if it has plot gaps. So ask for help - it's always good to take at least one more look at your work before submitting it to a publisher or self-publisher.

Georgina Roy wants to live in a world filled with magic. As a 22-year-old art student, she’s moonlighting as a writer and is content to fill notebooks and sketchbooks with magical creatures and amazing new worlds. When she is not at school, or scribbling away in a notebook, you can usually find her curled up, reading a good urban fantasy novel, or writing on her laptop, trying to create her own.

Filed Under: Book publication