Tips for Getting Your Novel Submission-Ready by the Author of ‘A Matter of Fate’

By Ellie Heller, author of A Matter of Fate

A Matter of FateHi! I’m so very happy to be part of the Crimson Romance family! I’ve been writing for years but only actively pursuing publication for the last two. It’s been quite a learning experience, with many stops at query and pitch contests, as well as traditional submissions to agents and publishers, along the way. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that my novel, A Matter of Fate, has found a home at Crimson Romance.

As you may know, Crimson Romance is actively acquiring. Aside from their open submission policy they frequently have Twitter pitch events. That’s how I submitted. If you think writing a query is difficult, try to pitch your book in 140 characters (less, given the hashtag!). Distilling the novel down to a summary, a twist, and a reaction was hard, but very rewarding for me in more ways than one. Aside from catching Crimson Romance’s eye, it made me focus on finding the plot point essential to the story.

Here’s my Twitter pitch:
Mona’s life is complicated enough, with a bespelled friend & goons chasing after her. Meeting her mate? Really bad timing.

Summary:
Mona’s life is complicated enough, with a bespelled friend & goons chasing after her.

Twist:
Meeting her mate?

Reaction:
Really bad timing.

I was thrilled because this pitch also gives you a hint of Mona’s personality.

How about you? Do you have a manuscript? Do you think it’s ready? Yes?

No? You’re not sure? If you’re a new writer or heck, even an old one – there are several ‘novice’ mistakes I still consistently make! – I have some good news. There are sites out there that can help your recognize your mistakes and polish your piece. And a polished piece is much more likely to be accepted!

I like these three sites to start. Used together, their advice on how to tame and clean up the beast that your manuscript may have become covers the most important points:

This article from Writer’s Resource Center discusses how to ‘Get Rid of Ugly Wordiness’. The bullet points (be sure to click link for full explanation on how to accomplish each!):

• Eliminate repetition
• Eliminate unnecessary words (more on that in the next two links too!)
• Eliminate backstory
• Eliminate anything that doesn’t reveal character or move the plot forward

Most writers can significantly shorten their manuscript simply by eliminating extraneous adverbs, adjectives, gerunds, and passive verbs — i.e. things you don’t need anyway. If you cut 10 words per page in a 350-page manuscript, you’ve already shortened it by 3,500 (unnecessary) words.
Miss Gardner has specific points as well as a list of ‘words to watch for’ to help you clean up your manuscript.

So you have your list of ‘words to watch for,’ but how do you actually go about changing your sentences to eliminate them? This article takes some of the most common words and shows you examples of how to rework sentences.

Using these tips you should be able to submit a manuscript (mostly!) free of novice mistakes. Of course to be accepted you still need to have a great story with fully realized characters and an interesting plot! But that’s a topic for another day.

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