Here’s the thing: editors and agents know you’re really proud of the book you completed during NaNoWriMo. We think you SHOULD be proud of it. It’s not an easy task to complete a book, and especially not in a month. But please, do us a favor and don’t send it to us…yet. First, set it aside for a few weeks. No really. Distance gives you fresh eyes (and renewed love for the story). Go ahead and start writing the next book while you’re letting this one percolate on the back burner.
Once a few weeks–or even a month, maybe after the distraction of the holidays?–have passed, then it’s time for a step that’s just as important as the writing of the book–the self-editing and polishing. No editor, agent or reader should be seeing your book just after it’s written. It doesn’t do justice to your hard work, and it doesn’t show a respect for the reader, editor or agent’s time.
Yesterday I did a round of #editreport on Twitter, and if you’re wondering about that, you can read them on Storify. Essentially, this shows what an editor is thinking as they read the slush pile. The things we see and reject for are so very often things the author could catch in edits. Many of the reports I see from the editors say “this author needs to learn to self-edit.” Yes, story is more important than good writing, but to get either a reader or an editor/agent to read that great story, your writing still needs to be above average. A great story won’t overcome a manuscript full of errors, awkward sentences and bad grammar. It will only overcome a small portion of that!
So now that you’ve completed your NaNo book, no editor or agent should have seen it in their slush pile yet (or even worse, if it was a book you wrote to fulfill a contract obligation, don’t send that to your editor or agent either!) First, you have to self-edit.It shouldn’t be an optional step.
To support this, I’m offering all #nanowrimo participants a discount on my Before You Hit Send self-editing online workshop, which starts in January. For the month of December only, use code NANO on checkout and receive $9 (18%) off the workshop price.