Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Karen Ball (Advice for Novelists, Part 17)

For those new to this series, I've asked editors, agents, authors, and publicists to answer this question:

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

They've had some terrific answers. To read them all, just click on the "Advice for Novelists" tag at the end of this post. Or click here.

Here's Karen's response:

Send no proposal out before its time.

Make your manuscript as strong as it can be before you send it out. With competition as fierce as it is nowadays, we're looking for manuscripts that have a spark. Something that jumps out and grabs us, be it the uniqueness of the plot, an especially engaging character, or writing that is so strong it grabs from the first paragraph. I've seen multitudes of manuscripts that are "almost" there, and have rejected nearly all of them. "Almost" isn't good enough any more. Don't let your desire to be published override your determination to refine your craftsmanship to the nth degree. Remember, God's task for us is to write,
not to be published. Focus on fulfilling that task to the very best of your abilities--and leave what happens from there to His good will and timing.

--Karen Ball, best-selling novelist and senior acquisitions editor for B&H Publishing Group. (Visit her online at her website here.)

1 comment:

Sue Dent said...

Sadly, I've found that most manuscripts rejected by publishers of houses that are affiliated with the CBA or ECPA are done so because those authors submitting weren't aware of the conservative evangeical guidelines or the guidelines each affiliated publisher has that pretty much makes it difficult to write like many affiliated publishers on this blog are suggesting one write.

Most CBA and ECPA affiliated publisher, even on their about us page, encourage "tell don't show," among other things, a given taboo for the general market.

This is absolutely not a problem if each CBA or ECPA affilialted publisher shares this with the author or makes it known as I think most of them do, listing their guidelines.

But how odd to see each of these publishers make suggestions about how to write that go against their guidelines. Unless of course ya'll are giving tips for the general Christian market which is quite different than the market CBA and ECPA affiliated publishers serve.