Check Your Manuscript at the Door

When your manuscript is sent to a publisher, either by you or your agent, what happens then? Is it just snatched up, hugged, and sent off for printing. If only…

It will then be scrutinized over and over again, not counting what you’ve gone through with an agent. How do I know this since I haven’t had a book published yet? Every editor/agent/published writer is spouting these facts. If you don’t know this already, you need to get out more. If you’re looking for a sympathetic agent to hold your hand, you’re in the wrong business because when it comes down to it-this is a business first and foremost. Can they make money on your book? Do they believe it will sell?

So how can you make it the best? I’m working on that myself, and from time to time I’m going to share what I find with you. (Lucky You!) I found a great list at with questions editors and agents will ask about your manuscript once they get it in their hands. Questions like, “Am I moved by this story?” or “Who is the readership of this book?” If you can’t answer these questions, you’re not ready.

A few of my own questions to ask while writing your novel:

1. Why am I writing this? Simple-do you want to make money, do you need to write, do you feel a sense of purpose while writing? Make sure you know why.

2. Who is my reader? You have to know who your reader is before writing, especially if you are writing YA.

3. How far am I willing to go with this novel? How much work will you put into it? How many times will you be rejected before moving on?

4. Do I believe in myself? Tough one-many writers have thin skins (myself included) and we must build a thicker skin and realize this is a business, not a popularity contest. Believe in your work and yourself.

I can’t tell you how much I appreciated finding the Dutton list and realizing I need one of my own. Answer these questions truthfully.

Once again, I have not been published. This is just advice for those of us toiling away on that novel that will be published soon. And don’t forget Dutton’s #8 “Is the voice/character authentic and real?” If you can’t answer yes, who is going to want to read this?

If you are a published author, editor, or agent, please let me know what you think. If you disagree with me, please let me know why. Each comment is a learning experience for us all.

OK, back to work!


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