I’ve spoken quite a lot about the submission process on the blog. It’s a terrifying and exciting part of the writing journey. Deciding your novel is ready to send out to agents isn’t easy. You’ll always doubt yourself. That’s why I’m sharing three things your novel needs to be before you submit, and one it doesn’t.
3 things your book needs to be before you send it to an agent:
The very first thing your manuscript needs to be, is finished. Most agents/publishers ask for the first three chapters in a submission, so it can be tempting to send those out right away. But if you receive a full request, and you’ve not finished writing your novel, you may well lose that opportunity. Not only that, but knowing how your story progresses and ends will have a huge impact on those early chapters.
There is no novel in the world that has been published without being edited. (If I’m wrong on this, do comment below as I’d be so interested!) Sure, if you land an agent, your next step will be to get an editor, but that doesn’t mean you can get away with sending the first draft in your submission. You need to edit. And, probably, more than once. You’ll need to check the spelling and grammar, fix plot holes, sow the seeds of foreshadowing and ensure you have consistency throughout.
Read by someone else
Perhaps not the most essential thing, but in my opinion, the agent/publisher you submit to, shouldn’t be the first person to read your book. Seek feedback from friends and family or, even better, a beta reader or critique partner. Ask for honest comments. A fresh pair of eyes will spot mistakes you missed, will pick up on any part of the novel that is confusing or makes no sense. They’ll also be able to tell you if it was enjoyable, if the twist at the end surprised them or if it was too obvious. This feedback will likely breed whole new rounds of editing, but your book will be stronger for it!
1 thing your book doesn’t need to be before you send it to an agent:
Friendly reminder; your book doesn’t need to be perfect. Not-so-friendly reminder; your book will never be perfect. Not to everybody who reads it anyway. Every 5 star rated book will have 1 star ratings. People enjoy different things, and perfection is impossible. As much as editing is important, it can reach a point where you’re so focused on making your story perfect, you never get round to submitting it at all. At some point, you need to accept it’s at the best you can do, and just go for it. Agents aren’t looking for perfect. They’re looking for great writing, compelling plot, and vibrant characters.
Does anyone have anything they’d add to this list? If yes, drop your advice in the comments below.