Tough love advice to authors trying to be published:
• Proofread your query letter. If a publisher gets a query letter with spelling and grammar errors, it is an immediate red flag. The query is the first introduction they have to your story, so it needs to be polished, organized, and spell-checked.
• Only send a completed manuscript. Presses are continuously receiving query letters for manuscripts. Nothing is more frustrating when you read a great letter, request the manuscript, and then hear that it’s not finished/still being added to/still a very rough draft. You’re job as a writer is to write the book, our job is to edit and publish it. We can’t do our job if you haven’t finished yours yet.
• Research your genre. One of the best tips for becoming a great writer is to first become a great reader. Pick up various books all within the genre you’re writing and study them. Don’t read them just for pleasure, read them for knowledge. Think about the conflict, the settings, the character development, the language, resolutions. Consider the age group who will primarily read your genre and look for trends that specifically cater to those age groups.
• Make your conflict meaningful. Purposeful conflict means conflict that progresses the narrative. We don’t want a fight between the main character and a stranger on the street if that doesn’t cause any progress. What you need to remember though, is progress can be big or small. That fight between the main character and the stranger could cause a physical fight that leaves the main character permanently disabled for the rest of their life, or it could spark a line of thoughts that leads them to make a decision about how to deal with a relationship. Essentially, you want to write in conflict that helps us get to the resolution.
• Write in vivid details. As a reader, one of the best things is to read a book that fully immerses you into its world. If you can’t adequately describe the world you’re writing, then it’ll be harder for the reader, or in this case possible publisher, to connect to the story. Giving small details about setting, emotions, character appearance, etc. will make those things not only memorable, but real to the reader. Don’t be generic. Don’t write that it was a room with a bed and dresser. Write unique details about the bed and dresser. And carpet, ceiling, walls, and anything else. Your job is to draw people in and make the world as real as possible.
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