You’ve written your book. You’ve got to the end, and you’re understandably thrilled and excited about what you’ve written and you want it to be published.
To increase your chance of publication, however, you need to present your book to the market in a professional way. You’re dealing with professionals, so you need to be professional too, and perhaps also think about spending a bit of money on your manuscript. After all, you’re asking them to invest their time and money in you and your book.
The thing about writing is that it is Really Hard Work. You spend a year or more writing the first draft; you write a second draft, tinker with that and think you’ve done all you can. Not so. You may not see – or know – where your book could be improved. That’s why a literary consultant is so useful.
Agents are inundated with unsolicited manuscripts arriving on their desks. Any opening chapters that don’t instantly grab their attention – and hold it – will be rejected. Any manuscript full of spelling and grammatical errors will probably be rejected. The sad truth is that they’re so busy they’re looking for any excuse not to have to read your work. So don’t give them that excuse.
I would say to any unpublished writer “Go to a literary consultancy and spend some money on a professional critique.” Well I would say that, wouldn’t I, as it’s what I do. But don’t you think it makes sense? You’ve spent a lot of time writing your book: wouldn’t you want it to have the best possible start to its publication journey? What you’ll get for your money is an editorial analysis –– a professional editor’s view of your work which, sadly, most agents and publishers just don’t have time to give a first-time author. I’ll tell you what the story’s strengths are, but I will also pick up on inconsistencies in the plot and the characters, look at the structure and pace, whether you’ve changed point of view too often or in the wrong place, whether you’re apt to tell, not show, and check on your writing style, spelling and grammar and so on. I’ll advise on which bits need more work and also tell you how marketable your story is. And if you have written an absolutely brilliant story which needs no tweaking to make it marketable, I will also suggest that either you contact an agent yourself, or I can do it for you.
People often ask what agents are looking for. Simple – they’re looking for exactly the same things that any of us look for when we’re buying a book. They want a good story with believable characters told in a fresh and original way that sweeps us along without stopping till we get to the end.
I will tell you exactly what needs fixing, and how to do it. In the crowded and competitive world of publishing, a book has to be very good indeed to achieve publication, and it’s my job as Writer’s Best Friend to help your work succeed.