What does “Submission-Ready” mean?

Gamalost-NorwegianOldCheeseI’m not talking bondage here, friends, so get your mind out of the erotica.

I’m talking about a manuscript with the potential to be made into something publishable.

I see a lot of manuscripts. Some are quite promising, some not so much. Literally anyone can write and publish a book nowadays, but not everyone can write a book others will want to read–THAT is a craft, and there are many who don’t feel the need to learn it before they submit their work to an editor or a publisher.  The quality of their work stinks like gamalost cheese, but they have the gall to wonder why the Big 6 haven’t snapped it up.

gibberish-american businesses onlineIt is important to learn the craft of writing, if you want readers to enjoy your work. Spend the time to learn the mechanics of the language you are writing in. However, if you are simply writing a pretentious pseudo-literary art piece, fine–go on and have at it–no one will ever read it, and you can feel superior for having written it. If you dare to compare yourself to James Joyce I will run you out of the writing group quicker than you can say Ulysses.

Before you submit your manuscript, take the time to make it submission-ready:

1. Properly format it: Set the indents, use a serif font of .11 or .12, double-space it with no extra space between the paragraphs, and do not justify it.

2. Hire an editor to help you straighten out the flaws YOU can’t see.

3. Go to the publisher’s website and find out what their submission guidelines are and FOLLOW THEM. (Yes, they apply to EVERYONE, no matter how famous, even  you.) If you skip this step, you will wait a year to hear that your ms has been rejected, and they won’t tell you why.  It’s not worth their time to teach you how to be a writer–you have to learn that on your own.

For a more in-depth description of this whole process, see my series “WORD-A Shifty Beast.”

learn something newTry to learn something new every day in your writing life, and with each success you have, try to keep some humility.  You will grow as an author, your work will remain fresh, and I will continue to beg to read it.

If you read the kind of work you want to write, you will gain inspiration from the masters in your genre. When I am not writing or editing, I am reading. And when I have the chance to read for pleasure, I read epic fantasy, paranormal fantasy and science fiction. When I find a book that rings my bells, I talk about it, and blog about it. Conversely, if I hated it, I never mention it again.

Yep–I’m that kind of a reader.



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3 responses to “What does “Submission-Ready” mean?

  1. I always thought ‘submission-ready’ meant ready to endure whatever torture or humiliation was due me for daring to believe I could write something (or any other activity) suitably profound as to be of interest to anyone else.


  2. The problem with Joyce was that he didn’t care one lick about his readers. That is even more critical today when readers have many more options for entertainment coupled with less patience to endure something that requires even a little effort to grasp. If I had a nickel for every time someone said I/we/authors need to consider the readers when they write a book, I’d have enough money to self-publish my esoteric esoterica without apologizing for making it tough to read.


    • Why, you naughty author! I happened to enjoy most of Finnegan’s Wake, Ulysses–not so much. Some people who attempt stream-of-conscious writing should stick to writing shipping labels. Just saying.

      Just because a writer looks all rumpled and literary, AND his writing is stylish gibberish, it does not mean his work is on a par with Joyce– who managed to apply a little craft to his work before he broke all the rules, at least in Finnegan’s Wake. The last paragraph of Ulysses was more than I could handle–something like 20,000 words with only one punctuation mark.

      The narrator of the Audio book must have turned blue.