by Susan K. Beatty
My cursor hung over the “Send” icon, but my hand trembled on the mouse. I was one click away from baring my soul, throwing my baby naked before judging eyes.
Sweating the proverbial blood, we slave over our words, and receiving a critique can be like being told all that sweat wasn’t good enough. Even our own evaluations often lead to a doubt-filled writing life.
So, we need someone to root us on and nudge us in the right direction when needed. No matter how experienced we are or how many books we’ve published, having other eyes on our words and honestly evaluating them is crucial to the finished product.
A recent article on Facebook spoke about how much rewriting Harper Lee did on the advice of her editors for To Kill a Mockingbird. It brought home afresh even acclaimed, award-winning authors don’t do it alone.
When we’ve worked hard, listened to, and responded to critiques, we may be ready to have our manuscript reviewed by an agent or acquisitions editor. Although I haven’t achieved this level yet, I bet critique is still hard. I’ve been told by those who have been there, the results are well-worth the angst.
Advanced Submissions, they said, is the way to go. So helpful, they said.
But I don’t remember anyone saying how hard it would be to take the final plunge. Or maybe I wasn’t listening.
One of the benefits of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference is this Advanced Submissions service. You can’t beat free professional critiquing or the opportunity to have an industry professional review your manuscript. And if a faculty member’s interest is piqued with a submission, an invitation to send more after the conference may be offered. That right there is worth the courage and the price of the conference.
Two options are available: manuscript critique and editorial review.
The manuscript critique is for those of us seeking an honest evaluation of our writing and the marketability of our project. A professional author or editor will critique the manuscript, offering an overview of the strengths and weaknesses, and possible suggestions for publishing direction.
If we have a polished manuscript, an editorial review may be the best option. An agent, acquisitions editor, or magazine editor will review to determine whether a publishing house or magazine would be interested in the manuscript, or if an agent might be interested in representing.
The good news is you don’t need to prepare your entire manuscript. Only ten pages, including a proposal, should be sent. An agent or acquisitions editor can tell within the first page or two whether they’re interested in a project. And a freelance author or editor will be able to give you plenty of helpful tips with a critique of just ten pages.
Check the website for the instructions on how to prepare the proposal and your writing sample, as well as to retrieve the necessary advanced submission forms.
A specific agent, editor, or freelancer may be requested for each submission. Or let the expert Manuscript Processing Team choose.
Agents, Editors, Freelancers
How do we know which agents, editors, or freelancers to choose?
Peruse the faculty members’ bios. Visit the websites of the publisher, magazine, or agency you’re interested in to determine whether you and your writing might be a good fit. Check the Editorial Needs or Freelancer Specialties pages (under the Advance Submissions tab) to see what the faculty members are looking for. This resource will help you determine who you might want to meet with at the conference too.
Still can’t decide? Leave that line blank on the submission form and the Manuscript Processing Team will carefully and prayerfully choose an appropriate agent, editor, or freelancer for your submission.
Submissions MUST be received no later than April 8. Make sure to leave enough time for the postal service to deliver the submission. A few faculty members will take advanced submissions via email, and their names are listed on the website under Digital Advance Manuscript Submissions.
With the deadline, April 8, fast approaching, there’s no time to lose. Don’t miss the opportunity.
And me? I finally held my breath and hit “Send.” Yes, it was hard reading the critique at the conference, but I learned so much. I felt empowered to keep on writing and to receive help as I write. My baby is growing into a healthy manuscript.
The guidelines for submitting manuscripts in advance are detailed. Click here https://writers.mounthermon.org/manuscripts and follow the step-by-step guidelines. You’ll be ready in no time.
Susan Beatty is the author of An Introduction to Home Education manual. After thirty-five years of leadership in the homeschool community, including writing, editing, and managing conferences, she retired in 2017 and is now pursuing a novel-writing career. Her first novel is in revision. She is the assistant director of the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference and recently became the president of her local ACFW-OC Chapter in California. Susan is a professional writer/journalist.