Writers, listen up: SLOW DOWN.
Awe-Struck has been open for submissions for a month and a half now. Mundania is opening again in two weeks. And here's the thing: every single time, we get incomplete manuscripts. There'll be a note from the author saying that they're still working on the book, but here are a few chapters.
Um...what is so difficult to understand in the guidelines where we say we need the "full manuscript"?
Furthermore, who in their right mind thinks that their first few chapters are perfectly acceptable when they haven't finished the book yet? Novels require *multiple* drafts. How can writers possibly have missed this lesson? Look, I write pretty damn clean the first time around...and I *still* do a second and third draft.
I get that people are impatient and that we're not always open for submissions. So when Mundania opens again, a slew of writers will rush and submit even though their work isn't ready.
That, however, is a huge mistake.
You get ONE chance to send in your book. ONE. Unless I ask you for a rewrite/resubmit (which 99% of the time, I don't), that's it. Do you *really* think your unedited, early draft or incomplete book is going to stand up against polished work by multi-published authors who submit to us?
Yes, it's true--if your book isn't done in time for submission in September/October, you'll have to wait until March/April 2010 to send something to Mundania.
And...SURPRISE...that's totally okay. You shouldn't be sending out a book that isn't ready for prime time yet. And, you know, a good half of the slush reader critiques that I get back specifically say something to that effect. "This book isn't quite there yet." Really, that's half of the books that end up with slush readers after my initial rejection--hundreds and hundreds of them. The readers give these books a score of about 6/10 when just a bit of rewriting and professional polishing could have bumped them up to a 8-9/10, which would qualify the book for a full read.
But those books never get that chance because the author sent it in before it was ready.
So how do you know if your book is ready? Here is the part of the checklist from the new Mundania guidelines:
- Is this the first draft of your novel? If so, don’t send it to us. You have one chance to make a good first impression. No one writes a perfect first draft—wait before sending, and make sure it’s as good as it can be. Rewrite and edit a few times.
- Is this your first novel? Everyone gets excited about his or her first novel. Most of the time, it’s not going to be an author’s best effort, however. Consider putting the first one aside for awhile, write some more, then come back to it later.
- Has someone other than you read your novel? If you’re a first time writer, it’s very important that you get feedback from other people experienced with writing who can be objective about your work. This doesn’t include your mom, teacher, or best friend. Look for workshops, contests that give feedback, and critique groups.
- Have you checked your book for things like head hopping (or rapid point-of-view shifts) and other problems? We’re looking for manuscripts with believable characters, interesting premises, crisp dialogue, and fast paced action. Technical skill is critical. Please also be sure to spell check your work and use proper grammar. We immediately reject work with excessive errors in the first few pages. Although we have a team of skilled editors on staff, their job is to help polish books, not correct mistakes the author should have fixed in the first place.
If your book isn't ready to go in two weeks...just wait. We'll open again, I promise. And if you're still not ready when we do, wait until the next period. There's nothing wrong with taking your time and doing things right--you'll stand a far better chance in slush if you do.
Also, if you're so impatient that you want to submit a manuscript that isn't complete, publishing with us may not be a great idea; I book the schedule eighteen months in advance.