Saturday, February 22, 2014

Is it ready to submit?

Sitting here working through incoming submissions I have to shake my head as I wonder why some people thought they were ready to send it in. Competition is steep for the few slots for representation that I have, even steeper for the few publishing slots that acquisition editors have to fill, why would people waste an opportunity with anything less than their absolute best?

But they do. I've said it many times, chances are an acquisition editor that takes on a book will then have the be the copy editor that works it up for publication. When they take the book they change hats. So if you wonder why it is important to have the formatting and the grammar and the punctuation right, why it isn't just all about the story, that hat change is the reason. If an acquisition editor keeps being pulled out of the story by noticing things they will have to fix and things they will have to change, then we have forced them into copy editor mode. Copy editors don't buy books. It's our job to give them a submission so clean and well edited that they don't get pulled out of the story by such things.

If the story is great either one of my assistants or I will try to work with the author to clean up these type problems. I do formatting and light editing as I read a submission if I have gotten to the point of asking for a full manuscript. But what if my workload is very heavy? I get several hundred submissions a month and I can't put that much work into all of them. One has to really catch my eye for me to do that.

Any author that is counting on someone on the other end to clean up and fix their work is taking a very low percentage shot. It could happen, but most of the time it is very unlikely. The professional writer makes sure it is as good as they can make it from the beginning.

Any person reading a submission is affected by early impressions as well. If they open something to see improper margins and formatting, if punctuation and editing problems start jumping out at them,, then they know they aren't dealing with a pro. They will still read until they reach the point where they know the submission is not right for them, but they do not have very high expectations. The little things DO matter, they matter very much.

We have a nifty page on our website entitled "Is it ready to submit?" that can help a writer take care of all these little details to create the most professional looking submission possible and to keep that editor from popping up in place of the acquisition person that is supposed to be reading it. The direct link to it is and you are welcome to make use of it.

Just remember, a poor submission is burning a bridge that a good submission on the same work might cross successfully. It is very difficult to get people to take a second look at a project that they have already rejected.

It's best to do it right the first time.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The List

How would we exist without a list?

We have to make a list to go buy groceries. Then there is the famous ‘Honey-do list’ of jobs around the house that need to be done. When the new year starts some make New Year’s resolutions while others just set goals they want to pursue in the new year. Either way the chances are whichever we choose they end up being items on our list. 

A great deal of what I have to do is represented by the emails in my inbox, sitting there until I do something with them and they are handled or filed. That means that inbox is a sort of list too.

I had a friend who was the ultimate list-maker, she even had a list of what lists she had. She spent all of her time making sure nothing was overlooked and ensuring that everything she needed to do was safely on a list somewhere. She was successful, I don’t think anything was overlooked. The only problem was, she spent all of her time planning to do things and little if any time doing them.

A list is only good if we spend time working items off that list. A good day is when we take more off the list than we add to it. You see, our list is immortal, it will never go away. Not only that, but when we pass on our list survives us to be added to someone else’s list, along with the task of our final arrangements. I find it interesting to think that our list may actually be the same list that has passed down for generations and even though all of the old items have long since been resolved, the list has lived on.

But used correctly a list can be invaluable. It can help us prioritize and focus our activities. That use to be very hard, necessitating constant re-writing of lists. No more. With word processing simple cut and paste functions can re-arrange priorities on a list in seconds.

I keep my to-do list in an email which I send when changes are made to myself and to my wife. That keeps it up at the top on my inbox (my other list) and insures that it will always be right in front of me as I have to work that inbox constantly. I work that inbox from both ends, from the top to knock items off that require little to keep the number of items in there down, then I go to the bottom to concentrate on items that have been in there a while.

Some things stay on my list for a long time until finally I decide “I’m just not going to do that.” That in itself is a resolution and the item can come off the list. There’s more than one way to do anything.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A new book on writing by Terry Burns and Linda Yezak

A new project written by co-author Linda Yezak and I will be out in March from Lighthouse of the Carolinas but is available for pre-order now. And see below for a free giveaway if you do pre-order.

Writing in Obedience came about when Eddie Jones from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas started after me to write some books to support the workshops and programs that I do in conferences around the country. I kept trying to get a handle on doing these companion books but I never made much headway on it. I finally figured out that the workshops just weren't going to make books that would be large enough to work with. I started writing one book that encompassed all of them that could be sold no matter which program I was doing and support it. But it would also be a book that might sell on its own.

That's also how my book "A Writers Survival Guide to Publication" came about. I did a month long online course for ACFW and after it was all over Chia Woychik over at Port Yonder Press gave me the opportunity to pull it together into a book for her to publish. So I did.

When I finished the first draft my editorial assistant, Linda Yezak went over it for me. She had some really strong input and her ideas and her suggestions were so good that I asked her to co-author it with me and the project  took on new life and new scope. She really helped take the project to a new level.

The back cover copy says:

Writing in Obedience is for the new Christian writer or the writer looking to decide how God wants them to incorporate their faith into their writing. How do we know what the Lord wants us to do? Are we being called to write or do we want to write for Him as an offering? What is required of the author using their writing for the Lord and how do they go about it? What do we really want to achieve with our writing, and how do we define success?

Also included in the book is a discussion of Christian Fiction as a genre and a discussion of the different audiences that authors in this genre address along with the best means of reaching that audience. Linda and I both include some very personal stories of our writing journey as illustration. The book is intended to also serve as a companion piece for "A Writers Survival Guide to Publication."

You can win a free copy of the Survival Guide by pre-ordering and registering your purchase over on Linda's blog 777 Peppermint Place at