Hi fello writers,
So you’ve written a manuscript or you’re thinking about writing one – kudos to you! It’s probably one of the most courageous journeys you’ll ever find yourself on in this lifetime. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as making that final edit to your work and knowing that a story which never existed on paper, has now been recorded.
So, what tools do you need to begin?
I’d say a laptop, a cool notepad where you can save all your secret thoughts, coffee and some good music. Also, get yourself a good friend to help read through your various drafts. In my case, it was my sister – a curious soul, who asked so many questions, which were ultimately gaps in the plot. So be sure to ask someone who will immerse themselves in your story and who will want to understand how all the gears turn in the story.
It took me exactly 11 months to write and complete my nonfiction manuscript. It was a hefty research project and I swore at myself several times for choosing to write a book on this specific topic. But it was a story that had to be told. I did not choose it – it chose me. In hindsight, I would definitely recommend anyone to write a work of fiction, purely because you’ll be able to allow your imaginative, creative mind to wander.
Throughout this process, I have read so many blogs and listened to various podcasts on how publishing works for first-timers. They were incredibly helpful and served as guidelines in an unknown world. Some of the most basic questions I had when starting out, were however contained in various different publications. Such as the sweet spot for word count, spacing and pages. My manuscript is about 83 000 words and stands at approximately 240 pages. Literary agents/publishers seem to love the 80 000 word count area. Anything under that and over 90 000 – and you’ll have a bit of a tougher time selling your work. Don’t ask me why – my gut tells me that that is a book that is comfortable to read in terms of sizing and digesting of information. Write your manuscript in double-spacing, Times New Roman, 12pt. Also, that’s what most of the agents have declared to be the easiest to read.
Something I can definitely recommend once you’re gearing up to create your shortlist of potential literary agents that you’ll be querying, is www.querytracker.net. This website is like the holy grail for anyone stressing and wondering about where they will ever gain access to agents’ information. If you sign up for the premium option of $25 a year, you’ll be able to view reports on how the agents respond to queries. This has helped me greatly in setting up my query list, as I’m able to see which agents are serious about my genre. My favorite though, is being able to view user comments on the different agents and how it went with their queries to specific agents. This has proven to be magical, in that it prepares you for the type of rejection you can expect to receive from agents.
Another website with great tips and advice on how to construct query letters or proposals, can be found at www.janefriedman.com. Her advice is presented in easy bullet-pointed lists, which makes it really easy to understand and apply to query documents. She also offers a service to assist you in drawing up your query letter – the document that will ultimately sell your book.
My favorite podcast throughout this process, which has filled my thoughts of despair and frustration, has been The Write Now podcast. Sarah Werner provides writers from all walks of life with helpful advice on various topics related to writers. The episodes are not too long and not too short – which I found to be perfect for listening to during a workout. You can find The Write Now podcast at www.sarahwerner.com or you can find it on the podcast app on your phone.
These have been some of the sources that have been helpful during my writing process. I would love to hear what you have found to be helpful while navigating through the unknown literary world!