Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Turning The Dream into a Manuscript

By Maureen Hume

My name is Maureen Hume, I live in Tasmania the beautiful island state of Australia and I am a writer.

Those last four words give me a buzz every time I hear them. I’ve been hearing them in my head ever since I was old enough to read my first bulky cardboard book but it’s only during the last year that I can proudly say them out loud. So that’s around forty years of the silent mantra. Who waits forty years for a dream to come true? Who pampers and protects the dream? Who never lets the dream die? A writer.

Are you still doing the silent mantra? If you are this article is for you.
First of all I’m very much Mrs Average, I don’t have a degree in anything, although my husband would say I excel in talking during good movies, and I live a fairly isolated existence. But the wonders of the Internet and the mastery of Google make all things possible.

If you have an idea for your story but haven’t started the actual writing yet it’s a good idea to research possible publishers first. Make a list of suitable publishers and their guideline submissions, that way you start with a clear goal and when your manuscript is good to go you’ll have your next step organized. If you’re already in the middle of your story it’s still a good move to check out publishers, it’s disheartening to have to cut and mold your precious finished manuscript to fit a particular set of guidelines.

There are many small, independent publishing houses who happily accept unsolicited/unagented work but if you have your heart set on a larger publisher you will need to get an agent for them to consider your work. Getting an agent is the same deal as finding a suitable publisher. Research which agents deal with your category and submit your work, if accepted they pitch your manuscript to publishers.

It’s a very simple three step plan, research publishers, write your story, submit to publisher, and it really is that simple but unfortunately not that easy.
In the publishing world your book will start life as a tiny piece of straw in a huge pile of hay, to give it the best chance to rise to the top it must be the very best you can make it. Continue to hone your skill by reading as much about writing as you can. Once finished leave your story alone for three months then go back and revise it again, you’ll be amazed how many things you find that need fixing. Join a critique group and accept their feedback, good or bad. If you can afford it a professional edit is the best way to give your manuscript its final polish.

Research and practice all forms of submission letters, cover letters, query letters and put your heart and soul in to an eye popping synopsis. All of this will take up a vast amount of time and is equally important as your finished manuscript.

Lastly, prepare to be rejected time and time again, this is an unavoidable rite of passage for all writers, but it means you are in the system. A manuscript doing the publishing house shuffle is so much better than a manuscript chanting the silent mantra in your head.

If you’re interested in seeing my work please go to my website.

Maureen Hume was raised on an Australian sheep farm and while the farmhouse didn't have a television or even a telephone it did have a room lined with books. It was in this room that Maureen's love of the written word began. But it wasn't until a minor illness in her forties forced spare time her way and the dream became a manuscript and eventually a published book. Maureen lives a serene in a mud brick house with her husband and six adopted disabled bunnies. Maureen is the author the children's book, The Pizza Gang: Facing The Witch.

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