The first thing you do is realize that you’re not a recognized author yet, and that there are things you need to learn as you travel the path that leads you to success. Here are eight tips that will help you toward that goal.
1. Read the guidelines. Whether you’re entering a writing competition or submitting a manuscript to a publisher, there are specific requirements for each kind of submission that must be met. You need to understand what each particular publisher is looking for and submit to their demands; it does not work the other way around.
When publishers see that you adhere to their requests and expectations, they will keep you in the corner of their mind even if your current entry is rejected or doesn’t win. They’ll see that you are submissive and talented and will look forward to each future entry with hopeful potential. However, when you disregard what they have plainly stated they’re looking for, your name gets flagged and they’ll simply disregard all future submissions.
2. Check for typos. Publishers are easily turned off when the work they read is filled with typos. In fact, some won’t even read past the first typo because they feel that the author hasn’t edited it properly and that it is not their job to edit it for them.
3. Check for the use of correct grammar. When the grammar is correct, the story flows easily and properly and will captivate the publishing editor. But, when incorrect grammar is used, such as “there instead of they’re” or “your instead of you’re”, they are quickly put off and will assume that the author doesn’t know how to write.
4. Check your facts. If you’re writing a non-fiction of any kind, make sure that your facts are correct and supported with authentic reference. Many publishers will list the sites that they will and will not accept, so make sure you know which sites to use for reference. Never state a fact that you don’t support, and never “assume” any fact as your opinion for most non-fiction writing, with the exception of a first person article or story.
5. Be consistent. If you’re writing in the first person [with you being the narrator] then you need to keep that voice going throughout the story, and if you’re writing with a main protagonist, then you need to keep the protagonist’s thoughts and words as the main thought. This means that you can write what she is thinking and why, but you can’t know what other characters are thinking so you would draw conclusions from their actions only.
6. Keep the story tense consistent. If you’re writing in the past, keep it in the past and don’t bring in words that refer to the present or the future. Each paragraph must maintain this consistency even though you can skip ahead or go back in time through the character’s thoughts or actions in other paragraphs. Many aspiring writers use words such as “was” and “is” in the same paragraph and this is incorrect.
7. Never give quotes without permission. You can’t say that John Doe, for example, said such and such and then write the quote without that person’s permission. What you would do if you wanted to use their quote is state that it was published in a certain place and that you are repeating it.
An example would be, “It was reported in the Central Star Magazine in July of 2012 that John Doe said, ‘Mr. Smith joked to me several times that he was taking money from petty cash.’” This allows the statement to be said without any consequences coming back to you, and readers can verify the statement through the source in which it was originally given.
8. Use easy flowing character names. Even though authors today include many cultures in their stories and even though some of their names may be long and difficult to pronounce, you need to give your characters names that roll off the tongue. Nothing steals the reader’s captivity faster than a name that they can’t pronounce. So, even if the name is authentic for the character you need to state at the onset that the name is this, but she known to everyone as this.
Publishing editors look for these details in every story an author submits, and they not only make the submission worth reading, but they describe the author’s credentials and become the key that will lead to success.
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