The Last Edits of a Nervous Author

I received an email from Julie Hutchings of Undeaditing this weekend. It was a marked-up version of my manuscript, which I’d sent to her for a ‘final pass’. Apart from pointing out my stubborn inability to use em dashes when I should (I’m working on this, I promise, Julie!), most non-formatting comments were positive observations about character development and the few ‘extras’ I’d included since her last read-through. 

I have to admit, my characters are the things I find most difficult. As my writing partner S.E. Berrow will tell you, characteristation and emotional connection isn’t something that comes easily to me in my writing. I’m a plotter by nature; I scheme and twist events to make an interesting story, instead of using my characters as the driving force as I perhaps should. I’m immensely relieved, therefore, to know Elder Throne‘s cast is so well received – not only by my editor, but by my Beta Readers too.

The email also included a marked-up version of my first-draft query letter. This is where I think I’m going to struggle. Back in Ye Olde Days of Yore (after university graduation), I spent two years endlessly searching for full time employment. I have lost count of the amount of covering letters I wrote. Hardly any of them bore any fruit, which means that my query letter skills are in great dispute. I’ve Google’d example query letters and read ‘tips and tricks’ recommendations but, in the end, I’m just a writer, sitting in front of my keyboard, asking for someone to love my book.


Is anyone else querying literary agents and publishers at the moment?

How do you approach it?

My next steps:

  • Making changes to my MS for one last time.
  • You might remember that I mentioned The Month of Miracles in a previous post. This is because I hope December will herald a miracle for me. Or at least, Spring 2016, because I’m entering The Elder Throne in the 2016 Chicken House Novel Competition. For this, I need:
    • A hard copy of the full manuscript (double-spaced; font size 12pt);
    • A covering letter explaining why you believe your novel would appeal to children and telling us a bit about yourself;
    • A page-long synopsis of your story;
    • A chapter-by-chapter plot plan outlining the major events of each chapter.
  • Failing that miracle (I’m a realist, here), it’s time to get my query letter into shape. That’s how I’ll be spending January, simultaneously researching 10 literary agents to whom I will send my first application.

Go on, let me know what you think!

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