Now What?

October 12th, 2009 • Kate

The EndSo I gave two workshops this weekend at the Douglas County Libraries’ Author Extravaganza. The first was much like a live version of an About My Query post, with my “do”s and “don’t”s of general querying tagged on as well. I quickly figured out that an hour was not enough time to go over general suggestions and try to get into specifics on queries brought in my aspiring authors. Next time I run a workshop on this topic (and I’d like to) I think the thing to do is bring in queries I’ve collected beforehand — maybe from this blog — and show how suggestions can improve it. Live and learn! (By the way, if you’d like me to come and give this workshop to YOUR writers group and/or conference, send me an email!)

But I was really excited by how well the second workshop went. Entitled “Your Writing is Rock Solid… Now What?” I gave the participants a step-by-step timeline of what you should do after typing that initial “The End” on your manuscript, and before you send out a single query. Of course, after I mapped the whole thing out on two white boards in three different colors, I forgot to take a picture of my brilliance. I’m trying to recreate it as a new Powerpoint presentation so I can give it again, but I wonder if you guys want to help me out. Here’s how I see it:

–> Finish writing. Celebrate!
–> Put your manuscript in a drawer.
–> Let it sit. Do something else.
–> Pull it out and take another look. Revise as necessary.
–> Share the revision with a critique group, online or in person.
–> Revise it again.
–> Repeat as necessary.

Somewhere along here, if you haven’t done so already, I expect you’ll make a decision as to publication. That is, are you seeking a traditional trade publication, or do you wish to self-publish? The self-publishing process is another blog post entirely, probably by another person altogether, but if you’ve decided on trade publication, then read on.

While you’re waiting on feedback from your critique partners, or once you feel you’ve polished your manuscript to its utmost, and every word is perfectly placed, hit the bookstore or library.

–> Know your category. Be prepared to say where your book would be shelved.
–> Read your competition. Take notes. Who published it, and who represented it? Check the acknowledgments.
–> Start researching the names you’re coming up with. Use primary sources — the agent’s own blogs, twitter feeds, etc. — as well as secondary sources like Publishers Marketplace, Agentquery.com, Predators & Editors.

When you have a good list of agents, and you know their guidelines for submissions, the MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do is this:

TRACK YOUR SUBMISSIONS
.

–> Follow guidelines.
–> Submit.
–> Wait.

Of course, while you’re waiting, you should be starting the entire process all over again, and by that I mean go back to the very beginning. Work on something else, get to “The End,” and once you do, evaluate where you are in your submissions with Book #1.

What do you think? Have I missed anything major in the process?

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7 Responses to “Now What?”

  1. Karen Says:

    Wow! I'm glad to see that I have that system pretty much in hand, but I think one thing that you have sort of missed, and something that I'm guilty of, is knowing when to leave the book alone.

    I've worked and reworked, and reworked some more to the point that I think I've over done it and removed some vital things to the world building. I didn't even notice until it was brought to my attention. So, as important as it is to know when to revise, it's almost just as important to know when to leave it alone.

    As always, such a helpful post!

  2. Stina Says:

    How about wearing your lucky rabbit's foot (or something less yucky) every time you check your inbox?

    Karen had a great point. So many writers have a hard time moving on, especially when they can't seem to come up with a new idea. But it's amazing how much your writing improves once you do move onto something else. It's all part of the learning process.

    Great post!

  3. Northwriter Says:

    I'd say you've covered all the bases. For me the repeat as necessary phase is critical. You have to be willing to mess your book up to make it better.

  4. Wherein I Write Too Much Text | Ruthanne Reid, Author {Blog} Says:

    […] gas that might just help to solve the world’s energy crisis (how NIFTY). Also, here is a fantastic post from agent Kate Testerman on the process of writing -> editing -> querying, etc. She […]

  5. Kathy Says:

    Kate,

    I just finished a weeklong online writing conference (Muse Online Conference http://www.themuseonlinewritersconference.com/) and we would certainly welcome more children's/YA people helping the writers with their works. I'm going to email the coordinator about your offer to present a query workshop. Many attendees will find it helpful as well.

    Thanks for what you do for us unpublished but hoping writers!

  6. Kathy Says:

    Just a thought. Did any of the people at that second workshop take a picture of the board? Or notes using the illustration you drew? You could get a copy from them…

  7. Wherein I Write Too Much Text Says:

    […] gas that might just help to solve the world’s energy crisis (how NIFTY). Also, here is a fantastic post from agent Kate Testerman on the process of writing -> editing -> querying, etc. She […]