I can see the end in sight. Barring major issues, I should finish the final revision of my novel in early November (yay!). The question is, when do I submit it?
It's had a couple opportunities to rest while I got some distance (a couple weeks after the first draft, and a couple months before this final draft). I'm planning on taking some time to get all my submission materials together before going through for a final polish. But does it need more than a week or two? It was one of my goals to start submitting in 2011, but I don't want to ruin my chances by rushing things.
This round (with SEVEN STARS) I'm planning to let the ms sit for four to six months. I can start working on the query letter and synopsis during that time, of course.
I found, with a few previous stories, that I could do much more in the final, polishing edit if I really let some time elapse.
But, I think this is a case where everyone is different. How long it takes me to really get a story out of my head so I can look at it new is not necessarily going to be the same length of time for anybody else. The key is that the story is well and truly out of your head so you can really see it as a reader, I think.
Send it out as soon as you can. Two weeks or so is fine. The more you let it sit the more likely you are to either shelf it, or get caught in the revision circle. That is you will keep finding things to change and it will never be ready to submit.
Two things it won't ever be perfect in your eyes and I doubt it will ever be out of your head enough to read it like a reader. After all you are the Author so you will always have some preconception that someone who has never seen it won't have.
I don't believe in sitting on MS for longer the a week or two. I prefer even less.
Again, just my opinion but that is probably what you want.
Emily, it depends on what you want to accomplish with the down time. Do you want to look at it with fresh eyes, as a new reader would? Or do you just want to give it a once over for the odd word here and there?
OSC says, and I can agree from experience, that one full year is needed for a completely new read on your own stuff.
With a shorter story, perhaps not that long.
However if you're just looking to do another pass then I say simply wait as long as possible. If it's when you're done with the synopsis or when you've finished the next project. But give yourself time AWAY from it one way or the other.
On a deadline for a submission due date, I came up against a manuscript that couldn't sit. Immediately after raw draft, on to working draft, on to revision drafts, on to final revised draft. Off it timely went to a mostly well-received critique reception and back again with minor, insightful revision suggestions. It's a fully realized and powerful narrative even if I do say so myself, yet knowledgeable others confirm my belief. We'll soon see. It's going out next week to a tough digest house.
I'd been working before then on processes and strategies for revision proficiencies. It was the one that evaporated the obstacles impeding my revision writing practices. One minor new epiphany, not so globe shaking as others have been, more a matter of time and experience to develop and acquire a working appreciation for recursive revision methods: their processes, their purposes, their challenges, their benefits, their outcomes.
What it came down to was realizing revision is not a copyediting or proofreading process or some hunt for errors or mechanical shortcomings or faults or flaws, it's a process of discovering meaning dissonances that inform revision writing at the same time they cause disturbances for readers from too much or too untimely information or too little timely information or weakly expressed and organized information.
Hmm, as been stated already I think it depends on what you want but at the same time I wonder how pro writers would answer that? I don't recall ever seeing that question asked a published writer. How long did they let their first couple of books set before the final polish? I would suspect that you would get a large number of responses.
It might be one of those things that each writer has to figure out for themselves.
For me I'm not sure. I wrote two novels years ago and sent one out a few times and the second twice. I think I waited only two to four weeks with each. Of course back then I didn't know all that much about the craft of writing--evidently I haven't learned much since-- but today I would see a lot more stuff that needs changing than I knew back then.
I find it interesting that there are a lot of writers who do pretty well on their first couple of books.
I generally let things steep for a couple of weeks. If you let it go too long, you can lose the flow of the story and the voice that you internalized to write it in the first place. However, for line edits and proofreading, for me, it's better to use another person. I'm just too good at filling in the blanks or reading over my own mistakes.
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