On What To Do After You Submit Your Novel Manuscript, by Clint Greagen
My novel manuscript Waxy-Flexy is currently in the hands (or on the desk, or maybe under the dirty clothes beside the bed) of my agent. It has been there for three months now and I’m not sure if a page has actually been turned or if it has been read twice through and is simply awaiting her comment. I’m keeping it real. I’m just this guy from Reservoir.
She has a list of high profile international authors who dress nice and speak many languages, so I’m respecting my place in the pecking order and not bothering her too much. (Yes, this article is my way of inquiring about my novel indirectly.)
The time has passed quickly and you may be surprised to hear that I haven’t been thinking about the novel much at all. I haven’t been checking my email every day or wondering if she likes it or considering the possible outcomes because, as Liam Neeson says in Taken, I have developed “a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career.”
What is my career in this context? It’s the career of the unpublished novelist. I’ve written five novel manuscripts. One of those was accepted for publication but was returned when the publisher shifted the focus of their business to non-fiction. I hope you have a much better strike rate than that but there is always waiting involved in the novel writing business. And lots of it.
I’m in a giving mood. I want you to benefit from the skills I’ve developed in the ten years I’ve been writing.
What To Do While Waiting To Hear News On About Your Novel Manuscript
- Start writing something else as soon as you send out your submission. This should be a no-brainer for everyone reading this article. You should feel like writing all the time (burn baby burn!) Here’s some advice for those of you that suffer moments where the desire to write wanes – sit in front of your writing instrument, whether that be a note pad or a computer, and start writing. If you are a writer it’ll only take one forced sentence to kick into gear. In between novels I write articles and blog at www.reservoirdad.com. Feel free to head over there and tell me what you think.
- Engage with other writers. Like-minded people are incredibly motivating. Reach out to as many people as you can. Network like crazy. Being a recluse is no excuse. There’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads, etc. Get into it. I’ve written dozens of articles for online and print magazines and made many influential contacts in the industry simply by networking. This, of course, has the benefit of building your ‘platform’ (a term I hate because it’s not about the writing it’s about the ‘celebrity’. But ahh well. It can be fun) which is something publishers are really into these days. Thanks to their ‘platform’ even footballers can become novelists now! So hop to it.
- Read. Another no-brainer but, in my experience, reading fiction while I’m writing fiction is tough. I get consumed by longer term projects and, apart from non-fiction articles related to the novel I’m writing, I stop reading almost completely. So read as much as you can. There are so many avenues to reading now, with the internet and all, so have something with you at all times. The chance to read can come unexpectedly. Don’t let the moments pass you by.
- Strut. It doesn’t matter if you have been published yet. You know if you’re a writer. So walk like a writer. When you’re asked about your profession respond that you’re a writer, shoulders square with a steady gaze. If you ever feel your confidence is failing you, YouTube “Staying Alive” (1983) – The Final Strut, and get back on track. Remember – as long as the words are hitting the page daily you’re a success.
- Prepare yourself for more work. Effectively, that’s what the first four points are doing. When your novel comes back it will require much more work. Know that for certain. You’ll have to adjust your life to accommodate it and, even if you are privileged enough to get that final product in your hands one day, don’t think for a second that you’re finished. You’re just holding a snapshot of your dedication to the craft. Your effort started long before it and will finish long after, and with that effort comes the real reward.