How many of us heard our moms say those words throughout our childhoods as they waited for us?
I certainly did.
Being the oldest child who was eager to please, I complied, rushing when called so I didn’t keep Mom waiting.
Her lessons were reinforced by teachers waiting for assignments, employers waiting for projects to be completed, and merchants with time-limited offers waiting for my business.
Haste is one of Twelve Troublemakers that plague me as a writer. I’m exploring one a week. This is the eleventh in the series.
Speed has become one of the operating principles of our society. We want everything in a hurry. Food. Internet Service. Answers. We have drive-through windows for almost everything, including church and weddings.
Is it any wonder we writers take our expectations of fast solutions with us as we enter the publishing world?
While self-publishing enables a writer to get a book to readers rapidly, traditional publishing takes time. Many embarking on their journeys don’t understand this and tend to rush things.
I was hasty.
I sent out some queries when my writing was sophomorish and received well-deserved rejections. This led me to ask:
How will I know when my work is ready for submission?
My answer came as a result of answering another question.
Have I received feedback from trusted sources?
Like many, I asked friends to read my first story. Although I look at it now and cringe, those brave souls gushed about it—and still do, bless them. However, friends and family members aren’t the best sources of feedback, unless they’re writers themselves, have degrees in English, or have worked as fiction editors. They lack the knowledge of craft and the objectivity needed. In their defense, they can be great beta readers, giving us their impressions of the story as a whole.
For more in-depth feedback, though, we need to go to those who understand the structure of a story. Early in our journeys, the best place to begin is with critique partners. I’ve written a series of helpful posts about critique partnerships on my other blog, Romance Writers on the Journey.
Contests can be a good next step. When we’ve pushed ourselves to produce the best work we can and have incorporated the suggestions of our CPs, we can enter our stories in contests with a goal of receiving feedback from preliminary round contest judges.
My counsel, based on personal experience, is to start with smaller chapter-run contests. While a final in the Golden Heart® is prestigious, an entrant receives no feedback. The American Christian Fiction Writer’s Genesis does offer feedback, but due to the large number of entries, it can be hard to make it to the semi-finals, which can discourage new writers. Earning a final in a smaller contest can boost our confidence. This is the course I’m encouraging my real-life, romance-writing sister to take.
Those with the financial means can hire professional freelance editors. Unfettered by emotional ties, they will give unbiased feedback. I wouldn’t recommend this step until a story has begun to final in contests, indicating the work is approaching junior or senior level. However, if you’ve chosen not to enter the Contest Circuit, a professional editor could give you the same type of feedback as contest judges—and even more of it.
I work with two talented CPs who give me great feedback. I was a contest junkie and received a plethora of helpful suggestions from my judges. Since I’ve worked as an assistant editor for a small publishing company, I didn’t need to hire a freelance editor, but had I not possessed the skills, I would have eagerly sought the expertise of a trained editor. In fact, I think I could have benefitted in spite of my experience because of the blindness we writers have when reading our work.
Your Thoughts . . . and a Drawing
Do you think there’s a tendency for us to send out our work too soon?
Where have you turned for objective feedback on your stories?
Have you submitted work that wasn’t ready?
One person who leaves a comment by Sunday, April 24th will win the hare Folkmanis finger puppet pictured above, along with a small surprise. I’ll include the winner’s name in my April 25th post, when I introduce the last of the Twelve Troublemakers.