Thursday, March 6, 2014

If you send that rough draft to Mongo, you'll just make him mad

Today I was talking to Mongo, AKA our Acquisition's Editor.  Over the past several weeks, we've
received some pretty rough manuscripts by people who should know better.  People who have talked to me, have heard me speak at cons, and who are professionals.

Before my current authors panic, know that I'm not talking about you.  Yes, our current authors have good days and bad days; they turn stuff in with mistakes sometimes. Overall though, I can hand their work to an editor and not get a flaming manuscript hurled at me.  (Not an easy accomplishment given the distances between us!)

What Is Currently Annoying Mongo 


My point is lately Mongo has been getting drafts that are so rough you could file your nails with them.  We're talking basic spelling and grammar problems in the first paragraph, let alone the first page.  I sadly shake my head when I hear that happen.  Mongo isn't as picky as I am.  Which means the errors are glaring.

I'm sure this happens to other publishers all the time.  Despite our submission guidelines, despite the whining I make when talking about good manuscripts versus bad manuscripts, and despite submitting to a publisher, the writer has made the decision to send crap instead of a polished and professional manuscript.  I asked Mongo about manuscript format and he just blinked.  He wished there wasn't much wrong with the writing to the point that he had to worry about manuscript format.  Yep, that was closer to item 10 on "things wrong with this novel."

What You Can Do to Make Mongo Happy


First of all, just because you know me doesn't give you a pass for spelling and grammar.  Mongo doesn't know you, and even if he did, he wouldn't choose a bad manuscript.  You may feel you have written the next bestseller, but until you have polished it the best you can, you shouldn't be sending it to any publisher.

Here are some suggestions to make sure your manuscript is the best you can make it:

  1. Join a writing critique group and have your work gone over.  There are good groups and bad groups, so look for a group who will give you honest advice.  If you can't find one near you, join an online one like
  2. Use the methodology in The 10% Solution by Ken Rand to edit your book.
  3. While spellcheckers are not your friend, knowing how and when to use them is a good idea.
  4. Can't edit your book?  Pay a real editor to edit it properly.  There are many good editors (and not so good) who can edit your book.  Ask around.  Get references.
  5. Read your book aloud to yourself and listen to it.  You'll catch a lot that way.
 My point to this post is that if you haven't done any of what I've recommended, or you think your work is above editing, it's not.  I'm not saying that professional authors don't make mistakes too, but they do work hard at sending in a polished manuscript.  And it shows.

Surprise Mongo and send him a great draft.  Just don't make him mad.