How is submitting a manuscript like sending a daughter to college?

Betty blue bordered (2)The same questions confront me.

Before my daughter or my novel ever left home I wondered, “Did we choose the destination well?” “Would this college be a good fit for my daughter” now becomes, “Will this editor/agent/publisher find my novel to be a good fit with their vision?” Just as I questioned whether the world would be kind and see the treasure that my daughters are, I now hope the world will appreciate my book.

“Will she settle in and find friends” parallels, “Will my manuscript find a home?” First an agent’s assistant must see something of value in those pivotal first pages so he or she will pass it on to the agent. If the first chapters pique the agent’s interest, he (in this case) will request the full manuscript. If the remaining chapters don’t let him down and he sees it as a good fit with what publishers seek, he will send it to editors. If one of them likes the concept, the storyline, and my writing, PLUS it aligns with what their publishing house plans to promote, that person will take it to committee and it will compete with other agents’ projects.

Should I have done more? With my daughters, I wondered if they knew enough about laundry and nutrition and choice of friends, not to mention the dangers of dating. With my novel, I wonder if I edited thoroughly enough. Is there enough description? (An element that doesn’t come naturally to me.) Are the plot points and challenges to the hero and heroine believable? Did my message come across or is it too subtle or too obvious?

Will she/my novel settle down and work? Assuming my story beats the odds and is contracted to be published, will readers like it? Will they keep turning the pages and take the book’s heart into their own? Will their world shine a bit brighter because of it? Will they recommend it to their friends and initiate the vital word-of-mouth momentum?

Should we afford this venture? As in the days when we had four daughters to send to school, resources stretch thin. Writing as a career or ministry means foregoing the income I could earn if I weren’t writing. However, finances aren’t the only challenge. I must commit to doing all I can to promote this book, while I continue to find time to write the next one and to market my other novels.

As I wondered how my daughters would do, I also wondered if I would adapt to this new stage in my life. Would I be lonely or feel a new freedom, or both? If my novel succeeds and I begin to become a recognized author, what will I miss about my current status? Will deadlines stress my days and night? Will I lose my flexibility to respond to family requests? Will I be less available to daughters and husband?

When my daughters became young adults I began to pray for wisdom to know when to speak up and when to keep my opinion to myself. That seemed a difficult transition for me. After years of teaching and advising my girls, this new stage required I back off a bit and trust both their choices and their ability to learn from their consequences. I will need the same wisdom to appreciate the recommendations of agents, editors, publishers, and marketers, as well as know when to stand my ground for the integrity of the story. Like the new phase of parenting, perhaps the best question for me to ask those who work to see my book succeed will be, “How can I help?”


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