The signs on food packages and menus tell all: gluten free, paleo, dairy free. Or do they? I can’t count the number of times I’ve picked up a packaged food item and was disappointed because the label misled me.
Ever had that happen? Package writing needs to be clear, concise and complete. Ah, you see where I’m going with this?! As writers, we must be mindful of those three c’s: clear, concise and complete.
Writing is a craft. You’ve heard that.
Practice makes perfect. Yep, that one, too.
Unfortunately, rejection often comes before publication.
Recently on Twitter, I saw a literary post from Greyhaus Literary Agency, “Sometimes writing a rejection is tough. Authors try really hard and sometimes the writing is just not there!” @greyhausagency.
Assuming you’d like to avoid (another) rejection letter, how do you know when your writing is publish-ready?
Dare I mention it takes practice to become a polished writer? Read, write, research, revise, repeat! Today, tomorrow, sick days, snow days, ad infinitum.
Here are the dirty details:
Step 1: Read. During your writing process, read. Books, articles, and biographies. Everything that interests you. Plus things that don’t. You’ll gravitate toward well-written works as your eye discerns good verses great. Take the time to construct succinct sentences. From there, build beautiful paragraphs. Carve out chapters to engage and mesmerize readers. We don’t ever want our readers to toss aside one of our books, dissatisfied with the contents. If you would like assistance and ideas on enhancing writing senses, see these posts: I Spy and Scratch and Sniff for Writers.
Step 2: Investigate. Determine your expectations by investigating your publishing possibilities. Where you decide to send your manuscript is extremely important! Do you want a small publisher, who accepts manuscripts from writers? Do you want an agent, to represent you to large publishing houses? Or do you want to pursue self-publishing options? While you write, keep your publishing path in mind: adjust your work to accommodate their submission’s policy.
Step 3: Listen. As you prep your work – gulp – get feedback. Not from your mom. Nor from a spouse. But from readers, critique partners, social media connections, etc. Put yourself out there and listen, really pay attention to what others are saying about your work. In a previous post, “Hear No Evil…” I dive into the benefits of a critique group.
Step 4: Adjust. Develop a thick skin. You aren’t an expert, can’t possibly please everyone (you already know that!), so don’t be defensive about your writing – feedback isn’t personal. Separate yourself from your writing, by distance and emotional resistance. Even if you experienced what you’ve written, you may need to adjust the words for readers. Bears repeating: don’t be defensive.
Step 5: Edit. Once you’ve determined your publishing path, heard and adjusted your book based on feedback, find an editor. Someone who is knowledgeable in developmental (aka substantial/substantive) editing. For more details about editing and DIY steps, see my editing series, here.
By preparing, you create impeccable work, and you avoid a mislabeling mishap, vis á vis, rejection! Join the ranks of practicing writers, i.e. practicing lawyers, practicing physicians, lol!
Your reward will be visible: your chosen publication path and, yes, money!
Keep reading, writing, researching and revising!
*Disclaimer: I am a gluten free glutton – love trying the latest recipes, so in NO way should this be considered a slam on gluten free-ers.