Manuscript BootCamp

Or – how to tell when your book is really ready for publication.

This post comes from the amazing words of wisdom given by Katherine Jacobs, Associate Editor with Roaring Brook Press (an imprint of MacMillan). She likened getting your ms ready for publication to hiking “the Narrows”.

Now for those of you who don’t know what the Narrows is…check this out –

Hiking the Narrows is treacherous – even dangerous at times. See why it was a great analogy!

No one hikes this path w/o the right gear…and no one queries their books to agents, or goes on submission without preparing it correctly.

So, what do you need? Here is a checklist of the things Katherine felt you should always having when entering the treacherous  world of submission (or querying) –

  • A topographical map – Otherwise known as the THESIS or purpose of your story. Trust me, if you don’t know the “point” of your story, no one else will either!
  • Correct footwear -aka PLOT. This is the vehicle that gets you where you need to go. And like footwear for a hike, it should be sturdy and tight – not flopping all over the place!
  • A walking stick – or your CHARACTER. This holds up your story. The character(s) should be fully developed, have depth, be authentic. No short cuts on this part, or your reader will know!
  • Appropriate clothing – aka VOICE. We’ve talked about voice a lot this week – and as we’ve already said, this is the intangible part of the story. To be authentic, it should come from the character and not be forced. It will make your story compelling to the reader. But, voice can be overdone. It should never be distracting to the rest of the story.
  • Waterproofing (cuz part of the Narrows is in the water – literally) – this is EMOTION. Without this, the story dies. Emotion is important, intangible and enables the story to connect at a visceral level with the reader.
  • Sunscreen – aka SETTING – needed to frame the story.
  • Water (to hydrate!) – this is where your use of LANGUAGE and PROSE comes in. Tight writing is key (see, told ya this was a theme of the weekend). Reread your ms with an eye to cut everything that isn’t necessary!
  • A flashlight – or a THEME. This is different from the walking stick (character), but just as necessary. Themes are hard – you want to be able to convey depth to your story. But you can’t preach. Especially with YA lit. So, layer the message into the storyline. Use your waterproofing (emotion), clothing (voice), and walking stick (character) to help!
  • Safety kit – this is your market – aka COMPARISON TITLES. Where would your book be shelved in the store? Who are you in conversation with? A BEAUTIFUL MESS is a Romeo and Juliet meets the world created in the Mortal Instruments series kind of book. What is yours?

There you have it – your “kit” to help you get through the world of finding an agent and getting published.

Of course, I didn’t mention the most important part.

YOU! You need to be ready for the journey – physically and emotionally. Cuz, Dude, this journey is INTENSE!

I’m bringing more exciting things next week (truthfully – all of April is pretty great), so be sure to come on by!!!

6 thoughts on “Manuscript BootCamp

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