As an author, letting your manuscript out into the world can be a tender moment. You’ve spent months, even years, honing it to perfection, reading and rereading it to make sure each sentence is crafted to your liking. It’s not unusual to become attached, but there comes a time when you just have to move forward already—after all, isn’t that why you’ve spent so much time with it in the first place? However, while editing may seem like the next logical step, it never hurts to give it one last critique before finding an editor. You want your manuscript to be the best it can be before it even reaches your editor’s desk. So before you submit, take one last chance to evaluate your manuscript for the following:
Have You Checked Your Word Count?
This one can be deceptively simple. You want to be sure you’re submitting a reasonably sized manuscript for the kind of book you want to write. The minimum length for any novel is at least 50,000 words, so that’s a good place to start. Different genres will have different recommendations, though, so be sure to do your research. The closer your word count is to your genre’s criteria, the more time your editor can spend revising what is in your manuscript, rather than what shouldn’t be or needs to be.
Have You Written Multiple Drafts?
While there’s no magic number for how many drafts you need, all authors can agree you need more than one. Each draft is a chance for you to sharpen your manuscript and trim the excess, and the one you submit should reflect your best and most current revisions. Does it flow well from one section to the next? Are there any areas you trip over or struggle with? Do what works best for you, but be sure you’ve addressed any weak spots. If you’re still not confident about your manuscript, try reading it aloud. This can give you a fresh perspective!
Have You Pursued Outside Feedback?
What do other people think of your manuscript? Is it fun to read? Is your voice engaging? Do you put something in a way they’ve never thought of before? These are all vital questions to have answered before you submit your manuscript. And while an editor can certainly provide this kind of feedback, it’s best to get your answers while you can still make major revisions. There are multiple sources where you can find constructive and unbiased feedback: a trusted friend, a local writer’s group, online readers, and more.
If you can answer yes to the above questions, then you’re ready! There’s still a long road ahead of you, but with these steps, you’re well on your way to publishing a book you’ll be proud of for years to come.