How to know when your manuscript is ready.
For writers, trusting in your own talent is hard after a critique. You wouldn’t show it to anyone unless you felt it was perfect in the first place. Yet, when you get a critique that shows you just how wrong you are it can shift your confidence and slow your progress. That was me. This past week I mustered the confidence to start sending out query letters so that I could find a literary agent to represent my fantasy novel. I struggled to get to this point because of rejections and critiques, but through it all I’ve learned to trust myself again. It is my hope that you can do the same.
When I first finished my book, I went through and did my own edits. Then I had my dad act as a beta reader. Like I said in a previous article, this isn’t as bad as it sounds. After taking his advice and making some changes, I thought my book was complete. Wrong! After sending out query after query and getting form rejection after form rejection, I had to stop myself and reassess whether my work was at the level it should be. This was the first blow to my confidence as a writer that I had to endure, but none hit harder than what came next.
I decided to hire a professional editor. A month after I sent her my manuscript it was returned with a ton of comments and suggested changes. The suggestions were more tied to character motivation and story clarity than grammar, but each slightly critical comment felt like a slice in the heart. It took me another month just to get through reading the comments. I hadn’t even started working on revisions yet, but it was all worth it.
Now this may sound weird, but I am so grateful for the initial rejections of my queries. This forced me to get new eyes on my novel which pushed me to make changes that tightened my narrative in ways to which I was blind. But this also had a negative effect. Where I once would have confidently moved to the next step of submitting a polished product into the arms of agents, self doubt began to creep in. Questions like “Is my novel good enough?” or “What else am I missing?” took over my mind and paralyzed my actions. Again, I was in the same predicament of having no one to read the new draft, and worse, this time I did not have enough money to pay my editor for another look.
I pushed past the halt in my momentum by trusting that my editor said all that she needed to about my book. I also had to trust my dad when he said he enjoyed it and it reminded him of The Hunger Games. Finally, I decided to trust in my own talent. I’ve gone over that manuscript again and again and there is nothing that I would change. That’s where you have to be before you submit your material.
If you do the work and explore every avenue in order to get your manuscript to its best level possible, your last step is to trust yourself again. Let go of the doubt and put your work out there for people to see. In my case, I fully expect to get more rejection after rejection of my query letters, but this time I know that I’ve done all that I can to get my work to its best. I also have no doubt that my novel will connect with readers once it’s published.
Are you having trouble doubting the level of your work? Let’s talk about it. Show yourself in the comments below now and share this article for other writers.