Writers, editors, and publishers saturate the writing world; they think they can do best. But what really sets one apart from another? Editors and publishers are looking for quality manuscripts that they can market. The key for writers is to fit in this box while still pushing the limits.
So, what do editors look for? First, editors love to know that you’ve got a finished manuscript. We want to see that you can finish a story. It’s easy enough to begin a project, but seeing it to the end, going through the process, that takes work. We want to know that you can stick it out with your ideas and push through the good and the bad to get to the end. Writing is not always a pretty process.
Readers don’t see what goes into a novel, but editors know. We know that someone poured his or her time and energy into creating this manuscript want to see it succeed. Help us believe you’ve got the determination to get to the end. Get to the end.
Hook me. Do not underestimate the quality of a good hook. It’s over said, but not overused. Every manuscript could benefit from a good hook. Your story may be great, but if you can’t get a reader interested, it won’t sell.
Quality writing with some well-developed characters. Manuscripts generally have ‘good’ writing, but what makes a manuscript stand out? Don’t be afraid to have a voice, to describe things uniquely, to submerse your reader in your world through prose.
In this vein, your characters are your greatest allies. Develop them. Make them distinct. A good character can carry a story even when the plot, the prose, and the author are all limping along. Be the writer that creates characters that other people fantasize about.
A damn good read. This part doesn’t come easily. As an editor, I am expressly looking for ‘a damn good read.’ This is where an author’s hard work comes out. A good read comes from writing, rewriting, and knowing your subject. It doesn’t matter what genre, what time period, or what plot you deal with. There is a damn good read in that story and it is the author’s job to bring it out, shine it up, and present it to an editor. It’s a lot of pressure, but an author can do it, will do it. An author wants to.