Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Pub Life: Getting Your Manuscript Ready for Agents and Editors

I've just finished editing two books so I thought this was a great time to talk about polishing your work for submissions. Everyone has different processes, but here are a few tips to help you get to a "yes" :)

1. Never, ever, ever turn in your first draft
This one should be obvious, but in case it isn't, this would be bad. First drafts are all about getting words on the page. Every draft after that should hone your words, removing unnecessary ones, cleaning up content, fixing typos, and so much more. Polishing your manuscript gives it the opportunity to shine in later drafts.

There's no magic number on how many times you should go through a manuscript and often, your process will vary. My rule of thumb is that I go through the book until I've read it all the way through without making any changes. Sometimes that means ten drafts, sometimes it means five. But when it's ready, I know.

2. Don't rush
It's really easy to get carried by the excitement of querying or submitting to publishers and to rush your work before it's ready. Before you respond to an agent request or send your manuscript to an editor, read through it and make sure it's the cleanest it can be. You always want to put your best foot forward.

3. Set the book aside for at least a few days
You need to have a cooling off period to put some space between you and your work. This gives you a fresh perspective when you do read it again and will help you catch things you wouldn't have caught before.

4. Two pairs of eyes are better than one
Regardless of your publishing path, someone else should read over your manuscript. It can be a trusted friend, critique partner, beta reader, agent, or editor. It can be all of these people :) At the very least you want someone else to read your work and tell you what isn't working, what may be confusing, and to spot any errors you may miss.

5. Read your work across different platforms
This is probably my most important piece of advice. Your eyes and brain will play tricks on you. You will read things COMPLETELY differently on your computer than on your e-reader or the printed page. Make sure you read your manuscript on as many platforms as possible and edit accordingly.

My drafting process includes computer edits, printed hand edits, and edits on my e-reader. Depending on time I sometimes will also read my manuscript aloud (or if I'm pressed for time, just troublesome passages). It always boggles my mind that even though I've gone through my work four or five times, I'll still spot a new typo when I change platforms. The variety helps you catch things you otherwise would have missed.

Well, those are my five tips for getting your manuscript ready for agents and editors. What works for you guys? Any tips to share?

Chanel writes New Adult contemporary romances. Her New Adult debut, I SEE LONDON, was released by Harlequin (HQN) on February 3, 2014, followed by a sequel, LONDON FALLING, on July 7, 2014.  She is represented by Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.  You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook or on her own website.


  1. Hi Chanel! These are great pointers for aspiring and new authors. Thanks for stopping by the blog last week, following y'all now

  2. Great post I have had a few blunder with my manuscript and few days ago I told myself no matter how long it takes I will polish my manuscript. (Before I am forty lol)