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You’ve Finished Your Manuscript-Now What?

victoria-howard-5by Victoria Howard

You’ve written a novel. Congratulations. Finishing a novel of 80,000-100,000 words is a major accomplishment. So give yourself a pat on the back, or if you prefer, pour yourself a large glass of wine.

Before you start what could be a very long process of querying a literary agent or publisher ask yourself these questions; is my novel really finished and is it of publishable quality?

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Filed under Craft of Writing, Guest Blogger, My Blog, The Publishing Process

Manuscript Evaluations

Book Fairy largeL. Cooper Press is, in my opinion, the best for authors who wish to be independent. As Gen Mgr, I think they offer the best terms for writers, and as an author who’s been with ‘traditional’ as well as the smaller indie publishers, I’d recommend them over any other publisher – except perhaps a million-dollar advance from one of the Big 6 publishers. Or is it 5?

As part of LCP’s service, they offer a 3-Chapter Manuscript Evaluation by Victoria Howard, whose romantic suspense novels have hit the bestseller status on Amazon several times. She’s talented and knows the craft. I just read her latest evaluation of a gen fiction novel, and I’m so impressed with her observations and recommendations. And she’s still willing to read and critique for L. Cooper Press’s opening special of only $50.

If you’re writing a novel and wonder what other people would think of it, wonder if you have talent, or would even like to know how you’re doing, take advantage of Victoria’s special. Even if you do not want to publish with L. Cooper Press, take advantage of the evaluation. It’s quite a bargain.

Victoria Howard’s evaluations:

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February 5, 2015 · 6:22 pm

L. Cooper Press

Book Fairy largeI’ve been asked why I, as an author, and my author friends believe in LCP. 

L. Cooper Press (LCP) was founded by authors who suffered through and survived scam and/or indie publishers.

The good points? After querying, we were offered contracts and our dreams had come true – or so we thought. Then began the doubts:

1) We had no control over our books’ prices, and often the higher prices the publisher set discouraged readers from buying.

2) Our royalty checks were late, sometimes not arriving at all, not even the promised statements. The reasons were explained: the bank made a mistake; the office staff became ill; the hurricane wiped out the office, on and on and on. We wanted to believe.

Some of the indie publishers may have begun with good intentions but invariably experienced financial difficulties. Some closed their doors overnight. The result? We lost money . . . large amounts of money. If the publisher closed without notice, our rights to our own books were tied up in litigation. We then had to fight months, even years to get them back. We lost even more money.

Once we regained back our rights, we did not lose our will to write. Oh, we were bruised, but we refused to allow outside influences and bad experiences to stop us from following our dreams. We simply changed course; we published as independents. We found the best formatters, the most reasonable cover designers, and discovered the different programs that would provide the best exposure for our books.

Now we offer to share our experiences by providing the best terms – unique in self-publishing. With LCP, you’ll never lose the rights to your novels; you’ll never have to fight to get paid – you’ll have your own accounts with Amazon and Createspace, You’ll control your own pricing and your own promotions. You’ll be the decision-maker of your own books.

With L. Cooper Press, you’ll be in the best hands – your own.

L. Cooper Press

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October 5, 2014 · 7:16 pm

L. Cooper Press

L. Cooper Press is proud to announce the addition of UK author Victoria Howard as the new UK Author Liaison.

Welcome, Victoria!

Jenny in green 200

Victoria Howard

 

L. Cooper Press – A  Writer/Publisher Co-op. You keep all the advantages of self-publishing, yet you’ll hve the benefit of a publisher’s imprint and resources.

Victoria Howard

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August 7, 2014 · 8:03 pm

Let’s Welcome Author Victoria Howard

Victoria Howard is the author of three romantic suspense novels, The House on the Shore, which was a contender for the 2009 Joan Hessayon Award, Three Weeks Last Spring, a Pushcart Prize nominee, and Ring of Lies, as well as a number of short stories.

Born in Liverpool, Victoria is a member of Romantic Novelists’ Association and currently resides in South Yorkshire, UK.

Manuscript Makeover – The inner critic

You’ve finally reached the end of your 120,000 word novel and typed the words ‘The End.’  What’s next?  Do you print it out, parcel it up and send it off to the first agent on your list, then immediately start researching another book?  Well, you could, but the fact is the manuscript you’ve slogged hard over and written to the best of your ability, still needs work.

Before you all start screaming at me, take a deep breath and relax. Ask any agent or publisher and they will tell you that first, second or even third drafts are rarely ready for publication let alone submission.  There’s always that little something that could be added or a sentence improved upon and that’s were careful revision or editing comes in.

So where do you begin and how do you make those improvements?

Different authors have different techniques.  Because your manuscript is your baby, it’s all too easy to be lulled by familiar words and phrases into thinking it is error free and perfect.  I suggest you put your manuscript aside for a week or two.  Focus on something else, and then return with a clear mind and fresh eyes.

Print a copy of your manuscript, as it’s easier to make notes in the margin and mark sections which require revising.  My first revision is always for content and here are a few points to consider:

  • Does the story open with the main protagonist in conflict with the antagonist or someone else in the story?
  • Can the reader easily identify who the main protagonist is?
  • Have you described the initial conflict/event in such a way that it draws the reader in and makes them want to continue reading?
  • Are your main characters realistic/strong/well-motivated?
  • And the villan.  Is he or she a real person or just a device to push the plot along?
  • Is your plot realistic or too far-fetched?
  • Does the setting come alive for the reader?
  • Do you write the stimulus before the response? Remember, for every action, there is a reaction, so don’t allow your characters to react before the reader knows what they are reacting to.
  • Is there too much back story, resulting in poor pacing and long, boring narration?
  • Does the middle of the story sag or does the conflict between the protagonist and antagonist escalate to the point where both are willing to sacrifice almost everything to achieve their goals?
  • Has your protagonist grown emotionally during the story?
  • Have you closed all the sub-plots before the climax?
  • Is there sufficient suspense/mystery in your story?
  • Is the ending emotionally satisfying for the reader?
  • Is the dialogue realistic?  People rarely say, ‘I do not…’ but rather, ‘I don’t…’
  • Do you remain in the correct point of view and is it clear to the reader who is speaking?
  • Do you ‘head hop’ – switch POV from paragraph to paragraph?
  • Have you fully explored your characters emotions and tactile sensations?
  • Is your story written in the right tense?
  • Have you withheld or repeated information which will annoy or bore your reader?

This list isn’t exhaustive, but it does give you a basis from which to work from.  The secret is to revise slowly, scene by scene, chapter by chapter.  Make notes in the margins or in a notebook.  When you’ve finished reading the whole manuscript, go back and revise any sections as necessary.  It’s never easy to discard your work and rewrite a scene or chapter, but more often than not, your manuscript will be better for doing so.

My second revision is always for grammar and typos. Read slowly and carefully, you’ll be surprised how many typos, missing periods or commas you’ll pick up.  Also read aloud – this will enable you to find jarring transitions, discordant dialogue and clunky sentences.   This is also the time when you revise for style.

  • Are your sentences of equal length?
  • Are they simple or compound?  Too many simple sentences and your work can sound amateurish.  Too many long sentences and the reader may become bored or lose track of what you are attempting to tell them.
  • How times on a page do you start a sentence with the same word?
  • Does your sentence have impact? Short, punchy sentences create pace. One-word sentences have power and act as a brake, making the reader it up and take notice.
  • Does your manuscript include clichés? If so, remove them, and rephrase the sentence using one of your own making.
  • Create and employ metaphors to increase imagery.
  • Do you use strong nouns and verbs as opposed to adverbs (-ly words), which are weak? If so, re-write the sentence.

And don’t forget.  The same principles should be applied to your synopsis and query letter.

Victoria Howard

Be sure to check her website for book excerpts and ordering information:

Victoria Howard

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