Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Great Advice for the Aspiring Author

When I logged onto my Google homepage this morning I saw this quote:

"If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"--John Wooden

Wooden is a retired American basketball coach and member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. Winning 10 NCAA Championships in 12 years, Wooden has been honored in many ways. While I have to admit to not knowing much about basketball, Wooden words of wisdom should also be heeded by aspiring authors

I've had the opportunity to interview and network with several editors over the past few years. One complaint that comes up often when discussing manuscripts and whittling down the slush pile is that there are many writers who don't follow submission guidelines. Every time I hear that, I shake my head in disbelief.

Why would you go through all the trouble of submitting a manuscript that you spent numerous hours creating if you aren't going to take the time to review the guidelines?

You can save yourself the time and energy because that has given the editor his first reason to reject your manuscript. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that your manuscript is so brilliant that an editor will overlook that you can't follow directions. If you can't even be bothered to comply with submission guidelines, then why would you be any more acceptable of suggested changes to your manuscript?

Wooden's words can also be applied to editing. As a book reviewer, I am amazed at what I've seen over the past couple of years. If a book is filled with typographical errors and sloppy grammar, it can take away from the enjoyment of the reader. Don't think that you'll find every error yourself. At bare minimum, have another writer read your work; but it is ideal to hire a professional editor to review your manuscript so that it is polished when it arrives on the editor's desk.

Remember, you don't get a second chance to make a first impression. Make sure you do it right the first time!

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