by Sione Aeschliman
Whether you're just hearing about the Revise & Resub (#RevPit) Contest for the first time in 2018 or joined us last year, this post is meant to help you decide whether you'll be ready to submit on April 21st and, if so, what you should do to prepare.
But before I launch into it, it's worth mentioning this: You don't need to be a contestant in order to benefit from the amazingly supportive and enthusiastic RevPit community. Even if you decide not to submit this April, you can still join the party: ask questions, favorite, retweet, shake your pom-poms for your friends, find a critique partner, and learn from the editors' #AskEditor and #tenqueries tweets by following @ReviseResub and tuning in to the #RevPit hashtag on Twitter.
Are you ready to submit?
- You have a finished manuscript. I cannot overemphasize how important this is. Because we only have five weeks for editing, your manuscript needs to be as good as you can get it without a professional editor's help. Maybe you're not 100% sold on the ending you've written or the need for a minor character, but it has a definite beginning, middle, and end; the scenes are written; the thing is DONE.
- Your manuscript is a workable length. Again, there are only five weeks for editing, which means that we're limited in terms of how much manuscript we can take on. Each editor has their own sense of what "a workable length" means in terms of this contest, but for me it means that your manuscript is within 10K words of your genre/category's target word count range, and no more than 110K for a novel in any genre. (Yes, even for SFF. I want to make sure I have time to do your work justice.) If your word count is on the high side, you might want to check out this post about the most common reasons I see for high word counts and get your word count down a little further.
- You've revised your manuscript at least once in response to feedback from a beta reader or critique partner. You've worked hard on overall structure, character development, world building, pacing and conflict. You've gone back in again and perfected your first five pages because you know that's all you have to get our attention. And then you've polished your first 50 pages a couple of times, both for the big picture and for language-level details. Do the editors expect your manuscript to be perfect? No. But - again - it has to be as close to done as you can get it without a professional editor. Because I guarantee that we'll have some insight and ideas of our own that will take your awesome book and make it even awesomer. Which brings me to...
- You're still open to doing more revision. You need to be super honest with yourself right now: How are you feeling about your manuscript? Are you burnt out on it? Convinced that it's perfect as-is? Revise & Resub is all about the editing, so you need to be open to constructive feedback and willing to roll up your sleeves and dive back in. If you aren't open to hearing that your book isn't done, or you don't have any more energy to put into it, it's not the right time to submit.
- You will have the time & energy to work hard. Have I mentioned there are only five weeks for editing? ;*) In that time, we focus primarily on developmental editing - big-picture elements that can result in major changes - and it can be intense. You and your editor will ask a lot of each other so that you can get the most out of this experience; both parties' commitment to the process is essential.
If YES to all of the above...
Here are some steps you can take to give your manuscript the best possible chance at catching an editor's eye.
- Read through the Revise & Resub submission guidelines carefully and more than once, and check out the other resources under Annual Contest.
- Read your manuscript one more time to make sure (1) it feels done to you and (2) you're still willing to put more work into it.
- Research the editors and choose your 2 top picks and 1 alternate. It's super important to understand the editors' MSWLs (we get grumpy about receiving subs that don't fit), but it's also super important for you to get a sense of our personalities. If your submissions is chosen, you're going to be working closely with one of us for five weeks, and you'll have a much better experience if you're excited about the editor you're working with. In addition to looking at the editors' profiles and websites, I encourage you to show up to as many of the #AskEditor sessions as you can April 16th-20th. If you can't make it to the sessions, tweet your question(s) at us any time that week and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.
- (Re)write your query letter. While we give more weight to your pages, your query letter is the opportunity to get us excited about where your story is going beyond the first five pages. So tell us about the MC(s), their goal(s), the primary conflict, and the obstacles. Entice us with your book's unique premise or imaginative world. Give us something to get excited about so that, paired with your first five pages, we're begging to see more!
- Prepare your brief answers to the questions listed on the How to Submit page for copying and pasting into the Submittable form. Don't sweat these too much; their purpose is to help us get a sense of your personality, what kind of feedback style works best for you, and why you're excited to work with your chosen editors. But if you have your answers prepared in advance, you'll get to hit the Submit button that much quicker.
- Send your submission materials to a critique partner or friend to make sure you haven't overlooked anything.
- April 21-22: SUBMIT! =*D