So you’ve plotted, written, and feel good about your story. Now what?
Before you head out to buy those big manila envelopes or purchase a Writer’s Market Guide to figure out who to send your manuscript to, you should consider a few fine-tuning scenario’s.
Gail Gaymer Martin suggests that before you send your proposal out, consider brushing-up your writing knowledge by reading How-To books and making sure your story is the best it can be. Then run your manuscript through a well-chosen critique group that can spot areas of contention that you may have missed. A fresh pair of knowledgeable eyes can be invaluable, and several of those pairs, even more so. Find a group of writers with varying knowledge and willingness to help you grow as a writer that fits with your personality. The time you take to form a critique group will prove invaluable to your writing success. Pray for guidance in this area especially. It’s never easy to hear constructive criticism, but if you want to grow as a writer, criticism is inevitable.
Also, getting involved in writer’s groups for the expertise they can share, as well as the encouragement and support they offer is a good idea. For the Christian romance writer American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA) and the FHL Christian Chapter are two you could start with to look at. In Canada, there is also The Word Guild to consider. These are just a few that are out there. Talk to other writers/authors and Google writer’s groups to get recommendations. Many of these writer’s groups host annual conferences which are invaluable in networking and getting you appointments with agents and editors and even published authors to run your questions by or manuscript through.
Getting published is usually a very long process. It takes patience and determination and belief in yourself, so invest in finding the right support groups for you before submitting your work to agents or publishing houses that still accept un-agented submissions.
Once you feel confident that your work has been critiqued appropriately and you’ve made the necessary revisions, then it’s time to go over your manuscript word by word checking layout, punctuation, paragraphing, and presentation.
For layout, be sure to have a one-inch margin surrounding the page and use a standard 12-point font. Create a title page that includes your manuscript name, word count, and author information such as, name, address, e-mail address, & telephone number. On each page of your manuscript you should have a header that includes author’s name, book title, and page number.
Each agent or publisher will have their own guidelines, check on-line or phone the agency or publishing house to request a copy of those guidelines and adhere to them for the best possible chance at having your manuscript viewed.
Writers’ Market Guides are published yearly with updated agents and publishing houses' information included. If you choose to go this route, then be sure to customize your submissions according to the individual guidelines given. Perhaps a better use of these manuals is to use them as a starting point to compiling a list of editors and agents you may want to approach at a writer’s conference. If you can get an appointment with an editor or agent and they request a proposal then you are one big step ahead of sending out your proposal blindly.
Gail Gaymer Martin goes into great detail on how to create a proposal in her final chapter of Writing the Christian Romance. Most proposals contain a cover/query letter that introduces you and your work, a Proposal/ Summary Sheet that includes the title of your manuscript, genre, back-cover type blurb (very short synopsis), brief author bio, and any marketing strategies you may have. Followed by a longer synopsis, the length of which you will find in their guidelines, and then usually the first three chapters of your manuscript bound in an elastic band. You should also include a sufficient SASE for their reply. If you plan to send out multiple submissions to varying agents or editors you should make note of this on the query/cover letter.
For most synopsis, the key is to remember to include your characters’ goals, motivation, and conflict, followed by the resolution for these proposals. Gail Gaymer Martin recommends Give ‘Em What They Want by Blythe Camenson and Marshall J.Cook for a good reference on how to write synopsis.
In the end, though, it is wise to remember that many factors go into whether a manuscript is selected or not. You may have a wonderful story, written very professionally, but it’s timing at arriving at that particular publishing house is sadly off. They may have just purchased one similar or they may be closing that line of books, etc. So don’t let the rejections pull you down, keep searching out new agents and editors, attending writer’s conferences, submitting to contests, etc. The quitter never gets the sale, it’s the determined ones that do.
That concludes my notes on Writing the Christian Romance by Gail Gaymer Martin. There is so much in this writing manual that I hope these posts have given you a little taste of what is offered in this book and that you’ll get your hands on a copy of one yourself to do a more in depth study. Gail Gaymer Martin offers many examples that show just how to incorporate a technique or what a well written synopsis is like, etc. Most libraries will do inter-library loans for those whose library does not yet have a copy of this How-To book. Or, if you’re up to purchasing one, you can find it online at Amazon here.
Tomorrow I’ll be sharing my Authors-Helping-Writers Interview, featuring author Sharon Dunn. I hope you’ll stop by and be encouraged by Sharon’s responses. She writes who-done-it mysteries and shares her road-to-publication story with us, inspiring us to fight the good fight of writing on...