Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Manuscript: Before I Spend, Erm, Send

Before I send the manuscript, I...
...I remember I'm an Indie Author. 

Every time I hit "send," it's going to cost me something. 

My books go through five editorial passes: 2 rounds of developmental edits, 1 round of copy edits, and 2 rounds of proof-reading. In between the two proof passes, I send it to my formatter (who edits the code, not the content).

Assuming I've reserved time with the editors, the proofers, and the formatter well in advance of my needing them (minimum 3-6 months prior), that leaves me with polishing the manuscript before I hit "send."

Since we're in the post-NaNoWriMo month, I'll focus this post on what I do before I send my manuscript to my Development Editor. Were I to pursue traditional publishing, these are also the steps I would take before submitting to an agent.

Before I Send to the Development Editor 
The story is as clean as I can make it. It's been read by Critique Partners and revised. 90% of the "who?" "what?" "why?" and "total tangents" should be gone. The plot should shine. I should also have scribbled in my notebook the following verifications:

  • Casts of Thousands have been reduced to two dozen-ish. (Remember, I write high fantasy)
    • Create character glossary just to be sure.
  • Characters are fully developed. Every named character's goal, motivation, and conflict have been revealed. (Since I write series, not every character's GMC is resolved.)
    • Use character glossary, write one statement of GMC per named character. Identify chapter where revelation is made. 
  • Every scene and every chapter have a clearly stated goal, action, and repercussion.
    • Write one-sentence GAR summary per scene.  (If I need to write a synopsis, these statements are my foundation.)
  • Each scene is flagged as action or recovery to verify pacing.
    • I make a little chart, one row for "A" and one row for "R," each scene/chapter goes in a column, then I connect-the-dots. 
  • Settings double-checked to ensure breadth of "world" is being exposed.
    • Make a list of where the scene takes place, in a second column note what part of the culture and/or environment are/is exposed. 
Note: Some people use their Dev Editor as a CP; I don't. At the industry standard of $0.025/word for two passes of 150k words, it's not financially sound for me to keep returning to the well for a "good enough" manuscript. I need my Dev Editor to pick apart the nitty gritty that will make my book memorable and stand-out amid a crowded genre. It's on me to address the top-line big issues before she ever sees the story.

Now, as for my beloved words list...It's long. It's four handwritten notebook pages. I do that particular clean up before I send to the copy editor; otherwise, I'd claw out my eyes.

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