Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Word About Submitting Manuscripts

I've been helping with the Amber Heatwave Contest this year and thought I'd share some observations with y'all about what works and doesn't work--in my very own humble opinion, of course--in erotic romance.

1. First and foremost, it's a *romance*. So, for me, that dictates a happy-ever-after ending. Not one where the heroine or hero die at the end. Or where the heroine or hero are already in a relationship and then "cheat" on their partner with the hero or heroine.

2. Misspelled words or misplaced words ("way" instead of "weigh" or "dissect" instead of "bisect") show a sloppiness and lack of self-editing. Not the way to impress a judge.

And let me insert right here--it is *not* your editor's job to fix your grammar, punctuation and spelling errors. You want your editor to be able to concentrate on making your story more vibrant, not waste her time doing line edits. If you don't know basic grammar rules, buy a Strunk and White or take a class at your local community college. The cleaner your manuscript is, the easier job your editor has and, believe me, you want to make your editor's job easy. She'll love you for it!

3. Missing punctuation. Now, I'll admit that I'm a comma whore--I tend to use more commas than necessary, but I do manage to delete most of them in my last read-through before I send my manuscript in to an editor. But when I don't see a period at the end of a sentence...? Not good.

4. Please make sense. If I get to the end of the story scratching my head and going "WTF?!?", it's not a good thing.

5. Use common sense. Don't have a character do something that might be "hot" in a sexual sense of the word but is completely illegal in the, well, legal sense of the word.

6. No head hopping. Nora Roberts is the Queen and she can get away with it, as can other established authors. But jumping from the hero's point of view to the heroine's in succeeding paragraphs, and even having a paragraph in a secondary character's point of view is just distracting. I'm not saying you *can't* use secondary character's point of view, just not in something that's short (less than 50k).

I hope this is helpful.


Anonymous said...

HALLELULAH!!! As an editor, I'm shocked at the amount of schlock a company "deals with" in order to contract any manuscript. This is unacceptable. I hope to gosh AQP is not contracting these types of manuscripts, although I've read a lot of theirs and it doesn't sound like their "usual style." Editing can be a nightmare, so I don't understand why some authors have that "someone else will take care of it" lazy attitude. Doesn't bode well for the writing community....

Sherrill Quinn said...

I must say that AQP turns down more manuscripts than they accept. They're extremely dedicated to turning out quality books. :)