Saturday, April 14, 2018

M = Manuscripts Aren't Meant to Be Sold As Is

Welcome, A to Z bloggers, visitors, and of course all my faithful regular readers! This year's theme for my A to Z:
Short & Sweet Reasons Why You Need an Editor

So without further ado . . .

Manuscripts aren't meant to be sold in their raw form. Unedited drafts are only worth money if you are dead and were already famous before you died. This doesn't mean that you should leave your crappiest work in a locked drawer for "someday" as a means to providing an inheritance for your descendants.

The fact is that manuscripts only become books if they're edited, and putting forth your drafts (whether it's the first draft or the tenth draft) for someone to purchase is never a good idea.

Readers want a finished product that's been edited, formatted, proofed and presented with a decent cover. Not the equivalent of a paperclip-bound stack of printed double-spaced Times New Roman with a "pls read this, ty" Post-It note stuck on top.

10 comments:

  1. That is so true. That being said, I'd read all of JK Rowlings paperclip-bound stacks with ALL the notes LOL

    But yes, I think that's one of the issues that gives self-pubs a bad rep, they publish manuscripts instead of books. Not many, but the few who do create trouble all around for indie authors' reputation.

    The sad true, however, is they don't know it's manuscript form, they truly believe it's a complete book that's ready to be published. So going back to the "Joint Partnership" post, that's exactly why it's important. Having someone to help you see things you can't and be honest about the book being ready or not is definitely key.

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    1. lol Yeah, I suppose JK's stuff would still be good. I remember Diana Gabaldon sharing a rough draft of hers on her blog once, to show how much changes during her editing process, and I was still saying WOW with the supposed rough stuff.

      Not knowing how not-ready a manuscript is—it's exactly why others need to be involved.

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  2. I'm one of those who usually hates having people read my stuff while it's still in progress. And if and when I break that unofficial rule, I regret it. Years ago, I simply told my friend Eddie about the concept of a vampire novel I was toying with. He started pointing at me while telling people "He's working on something that's going to blow away anything Stephen King ever wrote!" My eyes got incredibly wide, and I said something to the effect of "Will you shut up?!? How can you say that when you haven't read one single word of it? And how am I supposed to live up to that kind of hype?"

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    1. Oh, my goodness, that would be a tough one to deal with. I'm sure Eddie meant well, but sheesh! No pressure there, to stomp Stephen King's stuff in the dust.

      On the other hand, you know where to find your cheerleader. I think it's harder for a lot of writers to hand something off to a beta than it is to publish. The beta stage leaves one a lot more vulnerable.

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  3. Hi Lynda - gosh ... I'm amazed that it can happen today - but I suspect people are lazy ... in the old days I'd understand. Interesting to read about - cheers Hilary

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    1. I suspect much of it comes from not allowing anyone to see the work until it's too late to do anything about any problems.

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  4. file labeled 'Old Text' in existence. It was, way back at the beginning of the century, the draft where I let myself tell the story, probably to make sure I could get from the beginning to the end of the story with no plot holes of major import.

    Now, as I assemble all the pieces and checklists I use to completely write each scene from scratch, the piece I fear the most is the one labeled Old Text - because it has way too much power, and I find myself wanting to save at least a few darlings.

    I rarely use anything - but force myself to read it a couple of times for the finer points I may have worked out before, and which are still embedded somewhere in my brain.

    But it is a problem, having it at all, even though I spent years on it, and it's all my writing partner saw. For pretty obvious reasons, after a certain point we'd go to lunch to 'share,' and that consisted of reading each other's latest pages - and then talking about anything else.

    But you have to start somewhere, and then you have to get a whole lot better.

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    1. I asked one of my authors about the stuff she chops from her manuscripts, because she's one of those people who will write 40k words and then cut 15k without blinking. If I recall correctly, she says she doesn't save what's cut because she cut it for a reason. I do know of other authors who save the deleted scenes/ideas in a separate file in case they fit into another story. I'm not sure what I'd do . . . probably cut it and then try to remember what was in the part I cut.

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  5. My drafts are a miserable mess. I get the story, but somehow my manuscripts are attacked by commaitis and apostrophe gout. Without a good editor I'm toast.

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    1. "Apostrophe gout." I think I love that description. Isn't it funny how many crutch words and bad habits we find during the rewrites?

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