Next Steps

You know that pile of editing I told myself I had to start working on? And I did. I went through one shorter novel. Did another longer one. Hit a snag: I was looking to send the first off, only reading it through I found several issues – with characters mostly, in that somehow I’d missed including any physical description of them at all – but it shook my confidence in everything I’d done up to that point. Sure I could write the story in the first place, even smooth it out afterwards and get rid of spelling mistakes and whatnot, but could I ever make it good enough for anyone else to see? I didn’t want to waste my, or anyone else’s time, with something that would never be good enough. If there even is such a thing!

Strangely enough, those doubts gave me a new determination – I had to find out one way or the other whether my writing would always be an entertaining hobby or if it might have the potential to be a little more, and although I’d hoped entering competitions might help me decide that, it hadn’t really, and this was something different anyway. So, armed with Christmas money received with strict instructions to ‘spend it on something I really wanted’. . . I started looking at manuscript assessment services, and there are tons out there, from individuals offering read-throughs and critiques, to big companies with a range of services. And reading through the descriptions, they all focus on different aspects of a manuscript too; not just different genres, but some seemed more interested in spelling, grammar and punctuation – the mechanics of writing I guess – while others were about the story as a whole. Plot and character development and continuity and pacing. Looking at chapter length was included in one, though I’d always thought that was something that had to be settled for each writer and each book, not something that could be set.

I picked one.

Took a breath and sent off my manuscript and check, and tried to forget all about it, figuring it would be ages before I heard anything and it would be better not to keep worrying wondering about it. Except after a few days I got an email letting me know they’d received the packet, did I need a receipt, let them know if I had any questions, and they’d let contact me again soon. You wouldn’t believe how much better that little courtesy made me feel!

Sure enough, a little while later I got another email letting me know my manuscript had been allocated to a reader, it told me something about her and where I could find out more, and again invited me to contact them with any requests. I have to say, whatever the end result I’m already disposed to be happy with it, and although I still wonder about what’s going to come back, I’m not quite so freaked out about it. Because I was, even if I hadn’t realised quite how much at first.

Awaiting my report in 4-6 weeks.

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