This is going to be a short post. Because, quite frankly, the topic only needs a few words. Here they are: Never* send an editor or agent a first draft.
I could end the post right there. But just in case there’s a lingering “huh?” out there somewhere, I’ll elaborate with three reasons for this common-sense advice.
- First drafts, even really good ones, typically still suffer from fixable plot and character problems. It doesn’t matter that your writing is excellent, such problems signal impatience to editors and agents. It’s good be be known for your passion and your dedication to excellence…but not for your impatience.
- When you start working on a second draft, you have the opportunity to see with an editor’s eyes. While this can often be a painful experience (did you really forget an entire plot thread?), skipping this step is akin to saying, “an editor’s experience and insights aren’t that important to me.” Show editors the respect they deserve – wear their shoes during your revision process and be tough on your manuscript.
- Editors and agents-who-offer-editorial-assistance have a limited amount of time to work with your manuscript. Assuming you’ve gotten their interest with your great writing, wouldn’t you rather have them spending time making a great book excellent instead of struggling to make a good book great (or merely “publishable”)?
*If you are contracted to write a novel and struggling to find direction (this often happens with a second novel), sending a first draft might be acceptable. Just make sure your editor knows this is a “rough idea in search of big-picture help” and not something you’re trying to pass off as finished. (Note: This needs to happen long before your assigned deadline. Don’t submit anything but your Very Best on the delivery date for your manuscript.)
Contest reminder: Look for this blog’s first writing contest to be announced on Friday. I’m not going to say any more about it until then. But between now and then, tell all your friends about noveldoctor.com. The greater the number of visitors to the blog this week, the bigger (and cooler) the contest prize.