Mandy scans her MIRRORPASS notebook, flipping past pages of crossed-out editing tasks. In fact, there's only a couple left. So she flips to the front of the notebook and checks which draft she's on--and realizes she doesn't need to make any major changes. Revision is over. After this, she's entering line-editing territory--final edits, pre-submission, polishing territory.
She has one month of finals left before Summer starts. And like that, she makes a decision. It's time to set a final deadline. It's time to finish MIRRORPASS once and for all. It's time (don't panic) to start RESEARCHING AGENTS.
So guys, that's what I've done. My WIP status has officially gone from "editing" to "preparing for submissions." And while it's taking a lot more work than I anticipated--or should I say, the work is physically taking more time than I anticipated--it's all good. I have a Plan. I am making Progress.
Good Things Are Happening Over Here.
I will admit, this is when the drudgery can get to a girl. I'm currently working on Stephen King's infamous 10% edit (as modified by Janice Hardy--more on this later.) But here's a little secret. The drudgery tends to go away if you start doing exciting things along with the stinky, boring things. Researching agents is exciting. Going to Barnes & Noble to read books is exciting. Daydreaming about having a group book-signing with authors of the book you're currently reading is exciting.
Tons of excitement going on over here.
Also, another way to manage to drudge is by making lists. Therefore, I'm going to show you guys my Pre-Submission Editing Plan in its glorious bullet-point format. (With explanations (!!!) Because who doesn't love those?)
- Begin 10% edit. Put heavier weight on new scenes and second half of novel. While reading, mark any remaining "problem scenes" for editing.
For the longest time, MIRRORPASS hovered on the larger side of 96k. For ages, I knew I needed to cut 5-10k, and I dreaded it. Then I read this great post by Janice Hardy, and she basically blew my brains by explaining that if you cut one or two sentences per page, you can trim off 10% of a novel. And when I tested it, this method worked. Phew.
- Problem scene edit & tightening -- get them prepped for line edit.
Before getting to me Pre-Submission stage, I'd done a few final major rewrites. I have new or heavily revised scenes all over the place. Many of those scenes still have a very rough feel, so I know they'll need some revision before they reach the same quality as the rest of the novel.
- Generic line edits, hard copy, with betas & self. Don't forget to highlight phrases or words used to often--make a point of cutting these.
Once all the scenes are absolutely and completely done as far as content revisions go, it's time for line and quality edits. I'll admit that I'm dreading this. The last time I did a complete printed line edit, it took ages, and then I had to incorporate all the edits, which also took ages. But the good news is, once I get to this step, I'm really almost done.
- Incorporate line edits.
- Error-checking & continuity edits done in two stages:
- Run a spellcheck
- Change the font style and replace all names. Do a complete read-through looking for typos, any remaining rough sentences or pacing, and any remaining continuity issues.
For those of you not so familiar with the revision and editing world, this is code for "keep looking for rough sentence or pacing and continuity issues or typos or anything that sucks, really, until everything you change, you end up changing back. Run another spellcheck. Wonder if you'll ever, ever finish."
Because I am, occasionally, a organized person (and also because these edits are very boring) I have another list specifically for my Agent Research Plan.
- Compile list of possible agents based on genre.
I've been doing this for a while--reading the acknowledgments sections of books for agent names, adding authors who's work I liked, jotting down agents who sounded good in interviews and such--but this was my chance to be thorough about it.
- Write, edit, & polish 5-page synopsis.
This took way longer than it was supposed to. I found that a bit irritating, because otherwise, my synopsis was going very well--it was accurate, felt like a story by it's own right, had my voice, etc.
- Begin researching agents on list. Narrow down, and finalize, favorites.
This has been surprising so far. Many agents that appeared like favorites on first blush were less appropriate for me than I thought. It's been interesting learning more about agents I've heard about for ages, and, like I said, exciting whenever I start connecting with one of them.
- Write (or, in my case, finish) query letter.
Still working on this one. I'm about ready to hit the Absolute Write Query Hell boards for some Query-Hell editing fun.
- Personalize query for top agents...and begin submission!
Seriously, when I get to this point? It will be a squee-fest. There will be announcements and balloons and chocolate and multiple exclamation points; maybe even some teary reminiscing, I don't know. Wouldn't want to scare all those shiny agents away.
Actually, let me say that little louder.
MIRRORPASS goes on submission August 1, 2012.(Little shiver.)
Now that I've scared myself by making that public, I better get back to edits.
Anyone else getting ready for submission? Got any final editing or agent-hunting tips and tricks for me?
Truly and always (and oh, so close)