Saturday 30 January 2016

Submitting Three Chapters - some thoughts

Ready to edit

I know, it has been a while. I am sorry but there has been a lot going on. Also I am great believer in not posting unless you have something useful to say, which I believer I do now!

In one of my roles  I have to read submissions. We ask for three chapters and I have noticed recently that more and more often people are insisting on submitting later chapters or non consecutive chapters, perhaps starting at chapter 3. I find this intriguing because to me it automatically rings alarm bells. They obviously do not believe the beginning of their book is good enough for submission or they don't have enough faith in their story or their writing to let it speak for itself. I end up asking myself - why would you submit something that is not perhaps good enough?

We are not expecting it to be perfect because if it was why would you be submitting it to be us? People need to trust in their writing to showcase themselves and show that their writing is doing its job. For me when reading random chapter it is difficult to know whether the writer has done the job properly beforehand. Have they set up their characters properly, created their world because I am coming in blind and have no idea who these people or why this world works the way it does. I am more likely to be hesitant to take someone on if they do not send me the first chapters.

One of the Eggs who will be published later this year nearly didn't get taken on because they sent in random chapters. It was just something in the writing that made me email them and ask them to send me consecutive chapters so I could see how the story really worked. That was the best decision I ever made because on the basis of those chapters I could assess the writing properly and I realised my gut niggle was right. We took him on and the rest is history. But it could so easily have been a different story.

So what is the point of this blog? To suggest to writers if you are thinking of submitting to seriously consider what you are submitting. What image are are you creating? You might think you are being very clever by submitting those few chapters in the middle of the book, which you think are the most exciting. Potentially what you are actually doing is making the reader wonder why isn't the beginning good enough.

Write your whole story, get it down on the page as a complete novel, then go back and polish it. Get the beginning as good as you can get it before you submit it. Then, personally, I would submit those first three chapters, let them do your talking. If you haven't got confidence in them, I suggest you look at them again until you do. They are your hook, your selling point.

Obviously, this is my personal opinion, and other people may be happy to receive submissions in different ways, which is why it is always so important to read the website of the organisation you are submitting to plus any guidelines /videos/tips they offer. Make sure you follow them.

On a different note this is my music to go to at the moment to escape. I was introduced to it by Danuta Kean and it is just beautiful. It is Sufjan Stevens and is the first song from their album Carrie and Lowell.

No comments:

Post a Comment