Writing Tips

Ask The Author/Editor

You ask, I answer. Here’s a new question from another reader:

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“I’ve heard more and more people saying it’s a good idea to find published authors who will read my manuscript and write a review or endorsement that I can then submit to to publishers with my book proposal. Is this something editors really value?”

The short answer: No.

Oh, you want more details? Okay dokey. Here’s the expanded answer:I’m not sure where this recommendation came from, but I don’t think it’s a good idea. Nor do many of the published writers I know. In fact, we’re all kind of confused as to who thought this was a good idea.

As an acquisitions editor, the only review or endorsement that would have any impact on me would be one from a published author who actually knew you. Or from an author I know and trust. But bottom line, what matters to me is the writing, not what someone else says about your manuscript.

As an author, I can tell you that I, like many published authors, have been receiving more and more of these requests from unpublished authors. While we want to help, there’s little chance we can take time from our writing schedules to do this. Many of the authors I know have made it a policy to turn down these kinds of requests, simply because we know it doesn’t really help. Which means it’s not a good use of your time or ours.

So what should you do to ensure your manuscript has the best chance of being acquired? Have it professionally critiqued or edited. Go to a writer’s conference and take one of the mentoring classes to refine your craftsmanship. Take the time to revise, revise, revise. Once you’ve done these things–once you’re certain the writing is as strong as you can make it–then send it off to publishers. Because there’s just no substitute for a powerfully written story that grabs the reader from the very first page.

Great Books for Writers

How to Write a Book Proposal, Michael Larsen, Writer’s Digest Books
Write the Perfect Book Proposal, Jeff Herman & Deborah M. Adams, John Wiley & Sons
Christian Writer’s Market Guide, Sally Stuart, Harold Shaw
The Writer’s Handbook, Sylvia K. Burack, ed., The Writer, Inc.
Self Editing for the Fiction Writers, Renni Browne and Dave King, Harper Collins
Fiction Writer’s Brainstormer, James V. Smith, Jr., Writer’s Digest Books
Story, Robert McKee, Harper Collins
The Writer’s Digest Handbook of Novel Writing, Editors of Writer’s Digest, Writer’s Digest Books
Fiction Writing Demystified, Thomas B. Sawyer, Ashleywilde, Inc.
What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers, Anne Bernays, Pamela Painter; Harper Resource
The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life, Noah Lukeman; St. Martin’s Press
Guide to Fiction Writing, Phyllis Whitney, The Writer Inc.

Self-Editing Tips and Tools

Grammar Slammer

Self-Editing: A Novelist’s Best Friend

Rules for Writing Good (a tongue-in-cheek look at some common pitfalls)

Self-Editing Checklist (also tongue-in-cheek)

Resources for Self-Editing

Great Sites for Writers  

Right Writing

Writers’ Digest
Sally Stuart’s Manuscript Evaluation
Writing World
Christian Writers’ Conferences
General Resources
Writer Beware

Blogs You Don’t Wanna Miss

The Charis Connection

Novel Reviews
Novel Journey
Forensics and Faith
Write Thinking
Relz Reviews
Karen’s Amazon Blog

Fun Stuff, ‘Cuz Life is More than Work

Good, Clean Funnies

Sushi–A Tail of Whoa!