Friday, December 3, 2010


Authors who earn a living from writing are estimated to range from one in a thousand to one in millions. That doesn't stop the larger segment, although rejection piles may be discouraging. Even when published, they soon know it takes a lot of sales to create a significant royalty check.

We live in the era of an expanded and contracted publishing world. The E aspect is making a rapid move to be the dominant format. The purpose of this article is to provide a guidance tool for improving your chances of success.

The idea phase is always fun. Stories begin with an idea. A draft clarifies and changes the structure. Follow-up may often seem like a laborious task. The tasks of transition from a draft into a quality manuscript can become fun if you consider them as games or puzzles. Ie; you can make choosing a publisher into finding the jigsaw puzzle where your story is a piece that fits perfectly.

The steps needed once the draft is in place, begin with broad and detail questions for you and your support group. Armed with answers, you're ready to search for the right jigsaw puzzle at potential publishers. The rewrite/revision process could be compared to solving the Sunday crossword or finding answers to trivia questions. The last phase will be submissions to see if you played the game well.

Broad Questions:

Identify the target audience. Vonnegut's Rule 7 for writers; If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia. (many rule lists are worthy of your consideration; search the internet.)

Knowing the targeted audience leads you to selection of the appropriate vocabulary.

Evaluate your plot for plausibility and cohesiveness.

Create definitions of your primary characters; strengths, weaknesses, lessons, and etc.

Describe the story in a single sentence; what is the root point of the plot?

Write a synopsis which includes beginning, middle, and ending.

Detail Questions:

Is the point of view appropriate to the story and consistent?

Consistent tense appropriate to story?

Facts, figures and people consistent with the time period?

If a created world, are the aspects realistic and believable?

Understand the genre or combinations?

Choosing a Publisher/Agent:

Self Publishing. Be careful; understand all the details before considering this avenue. The Predators and Editors website is a useful tool in this area. Agents are mentioned because major publishers require you have one in order to submit.

Search based on the genre and sub-genres. Check out the reputation and history. Study the submission requirements.

Select 3 or 4 and list their requirements; format, query aspects, synopsis, blurbs, marketing plans, & etc.

Re-write/Revision Process:

Get the manuscript into Standard Format- gain absolute control of your software; no curly quotes or apostrophes, no special effects like automatic indent for next paragraph when hitting Enter. The SFWA website has excellent instructions on this subject.

Get help. Read the draft aloud and have someone read it to you. Keep track of the changes. Redlining with software or mark a printed version.

Keep the answers to above questions in mind as you review the story.

Evaluate each chapter. Ask if it advances the action and/or builds character. Verify the need for each scene. Analyze sentences for contribution to action and/or character. Make sure dialogue is realistic. Not many people speak in complete sentences.

Incorporate changes. Repeat reading aloud process.

Have manuscript proofed by someone who fully understands grammar and punctuation.

Make corrections.

Submission Process:

Make a digital copy of the standard format manuscript file. Revise formatting of the copy to match selected publisher guidelines. They vary in font, line spacing, indent, chapter layout, and etc.

Prepare query and support information per instructions. The portion of manuscript they want initially is another variable. Be prepared to submit the full manuscript if requested. Some accept MS Word doc format, others want RTF or PDF.

Do not make submissions to more than one at a time unless they state it is OK.

Many now accept email submissions and queries. Follow their instructions.

Pay attention to the submittal periods.


Be prepared for rejections. If your work is good but doesn't fit their needs they often request you submit something else. Don't ask them about your submission until the response time in the guidelines has lapsed.

Have lots of fun. Write, rewrite, submit, repeat the cycle having fun until you succeed. Then you can have even more fun solving the writing puzzles.

About the author:
F.V. Edwards' short stories and two novels have been published. The novels by Whiskey Creek Press titled "Glass Angel With Skillet" and "The God Business". Both received excellent reviews from Readers Favorites and are available in E Book and Print. He has short stories in two Hadley Rille anthologies. Edwards is presently teaching courses at the local college, one is "Writing For Publication in Today's World"

His web page is