So you’ve almost finished writing that book (or perhaps you’ve already finished) and now you’re starting to think about getting it published. Well, we’ve put together some useful tips and advice from the experts to help you make your manuscript stand out.
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Extract from: The Art of Romance Writing fully revised and updated by Valerie Parv
All professional writers know the value of allowing a piece of writing to ‘cool off’ before submission. After a few days or a week away from it, you become more objective in your assessment and more able to spot any flaws. For this reason, I suggest that you allow at least a couple of weeks between completing your manuscript and sending it to a publisher. If you have already completed a book, the checklists can be used to assess whether it is on target before submission, to ensure that you’ve given your work every chance of acceptance. After evaluating your manuscript with the help of one of the checklists, you may find that it still needs work in one or more areas. Solving these problems at the planning stage will make the writing easier and more likely to appeal to a romance editor when the manuscript is finally submitted.
There are two final points I would like to get out of the way. Publishers usually specify the length of manuscript they require. However difficult it may seem, and no matter how many good reasons you may have, I urge you not to submit work which is appreciably longer or shorter than specified. (A couple of hundred words either way is usually acceptable.) It is the mark of the amateur to plead that the work couldn’t possibly be shortened. Reader’s Digest managed to publish the Bible as a condensed book. However painful it may be, make the effort to cut out every unnecessary word or phrase. Sometimes, whole characters and subplots have to go for the book to have the correct length and balance, with the emphasis squarely on the developing romance.
The second caution is one which worries many writers much more than it should. What if someone steals your ideas? Within a particular genre, similarities are bound to occur between books. In fact, there is no copyright on ideas, only on the form in which they are presented. No two authors will treat the same theme in exactly the same way. Therefore, you needn’t worry that a publisher will steal your idea. Editors are much too busy to bother. It is far easier for them to assign the book to you if they like the idea …
One area you may want to treat with caution is the Internet. Some publishers regard work that has appeared on the Internet as already published, affecting the rights you may be able to sell in future. As well, work appearing on the Internet may not always be protected by copyright conventions, or you may be giving away ownership to the owner of the website without meaning to do so. Before posting your manuscript or work-in-progress on the Internet, it’s a good idea to read the fine print at the site, so you know exactly what you’re getting into.
Emulating writers you admire is a useful way to get started but you must work towards developing your own unique way of telling a story, your own style, adapted to the special demands of the romance genre.
Remember, there are no hard and fast rules for how to write. What works for one writer may not work for another. What matters is the result.