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Aspiring Writers Q&A Part 2

February 13, 2009

How long should I wait after my first draft before starting revisions?

This is definitely one that depends on the individual author and may take some experimenting to find what works for you. Some people need a week or two, others longer. For me, I tend to give myself that cooling off period after the second time through more than the first. By the time I’ve finished the first draft, I’ve usually already filled a few pieces of paper with notes I jotted down as I went along. Most of the time I’m too eager to get back in there and flesh things out to put it off for more than a couple days after finishing the first draft.

What is a query letter?

This is a letter sent to the editor you’re pitching your book to. Depending on the publisher’s current guidelines, it may or may not also be sent with a proposal or a complete manuscript. In your query letter you’ll need to mention the title of your book, genre, length and the line you’re targeting. Condensing your book into a few sentences (like a mini back cover blurb) will probably be the hardest part of the letter to write, and the most important. Before closing you’ll want to mention any previous books or work you’ve had published, writing organizations you belong to or contests you’ve placed in. And don’t forget to thank the editor for their time and consideration.

You can find many query letter templates online, as well as a number of articles on how to write them, some from bestselling authors.

How do I get an editor?

Editors are usually assigned once you’ve contracted a book with a publisher. Most of the time that contract offer will come from the editor you submitted to or are assigned to work with, but not always. Beware of ads on the internet that involve paying someone to “edit” your book. If you’re looking for some feedback before submitting your book, think about joining a local or online critique group.

If a publisher/editor asks for revisions, what can I expect?

Like a lot in the publishing business–it depends. Requests for revisions can run from general suggestions regarding pacing, characters or problems with the plot etc, to specific requests to trim word count, cut or lengthen scenes or maybe starting the book in a different place. Sometimes an editor will offer a lot of guidance or suggestions for what they’re looking for, or they may just give you a couple general ideas and let you run with it.

I think I’ve touched on all the writing questions I’ve received so far, at least at the most basic level. I do plan to blog a little more thoroughly on some of those areas, but if anyone has more questions about the subjects I’ve talked about so far, or ones I haven’t, feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me with them any time.

And I am going to try and blog about writing on the same day every week, but that might not happen until after my little one makes her big appearance. 🙂

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