Is Your Manuscript Ready to Submit?

manuscript with pencil
Thank you janjf93 from Pixabay for creating this image and allowing me to use it.

“Is Your Manuscript Ready to Submit?” by Joan Y. Edwards

Is your manuscript a quality manuscript? Is it the best manuscript you can write with the skills and knowledge you have now?
Does your manuscript pass the quality control test below?
If your answer to these questions is “YES,” you have a quality manuscript. You have a manuscript that is the best you can do at this time. Your manuscript is ready to submit.

1. Does your writing show your distinctive voice?
Two articles that explain voice are:
Holly Lisle. “Ten Steps to Finding Your Writing Voice”
Stephen Peha. “Looking for Quality in Student Writing”

2. Did you choose the best person to narrate your story – First, Second, or Third Person.
Here are two articles to help you decide.
Deanna Mascle. “
Should You Write in First or Third Person?”
Ginny Wiehardt. “How to Start Writing in Third Person”

3. Does it have an Unforgettable Character with a flaw and a goal he is willing jump off cliffs to get it. Tell what he wants to do, what he wants to happen. Which characters keep the main character from achieving his goal? Which characters help him? Write so that the reader feels the emotions that your characters feel. Let the readers know the contradictions that go through the character’s mind. Tell the experiences that cause your character great stress, worry, anxiety, anguish, and/or sadness? What gives your main character great happiness? Make your character have to change to reach his goal.

Thinking about the theme(s) of your story will help you determine the flaws of your protagonist. If you know what the character learns from his experiences, you fatal flaw is its opposite. In Liar Liar, the protagonist learns how to tell the truth. Lying was his fatal flaw. If the protagonist learns to be dependable, his flaw was that he was irresponsible. If the protagonist finally gets up enough nerve to stand up for himself, he gains courage. Fear or cowardice was his fatal flaw.

4. Does it have a complete, compelling Plot –  Beginning, middle, and a satisfying ending filled with tension of inner and outer struggles on every page so that readers anticipate the good and bad consequences of a character’s choices.

  • Ordinary Day

  • Inciting incident with new goal to solve a really big problem

  • First failure

  • Second failure

  • Third failure

  • Fight

  • Win/Lose

  • What’s it like on the new ordinary day

5. Does it take place in an appropriate setting?
 Choose a unique setting that heightens the suspense of the plot and the problems of the main character. Where does this character have these problems? Why here? Why not somewhere else? Put your character with people, circumstances, and settings that make his flaw more noticeable in the beginning and his strengths quite evident at the end.

6. Does it have proper formatting, few pet words, correct spelling, grammar, punctuations, and sentence structure?
Would your high school teacher give your manuscript an A or B? Any grade lower than a B is not acceptable.  It must be above average in this area to submit it.

  • Did you repeat pet words or phrases numerous times within the manuscript with no purpose for emphasis, such as: just, real, very,what’s up, what do you know,  and it’s a shame. Use your search and find tools in your word processing software to find words you know you usually repeat.  Replace with a better word or delete it. Here are examples of words or phrases that might be repeated:

The box is very flat. The hills are very steep. Her veil is very long.
I just don’t know what I’m going to do…repeated on page 10, 13, 19, 21, 25, and 32.
What do you know?…repeated on page 6, 7, 8, 9, 15, and 17.

  1. Can you say the following words in all honesty?

“This is the best quality  I can do with this manuscript with the knowledge and skills I have at the present time.”
If your answer is: YES, send it out for one more look by your critique group, writing partner, and/or 3 beta readers. Give them three main things on which to focus.

When you get the manuscript critiques back, you will see it with clearer eyes. Read it from the back to the front. Start in the middle. Any page you begin reading your manuscript should get a reader hooked on it. Make corrections. Then submit your manuscript.

If your answer is: NO. It’s imperative that you calmly look at your manuscript with a skillful eye. Change what needs revising and send it out for one more look by your critique group, writing partner, and/or 3 beta readers. Give them three main things on which to focus.
Here are hints to help you get your manuscript in quality condition:

  • Go through 7 versions (revisions all the way through).

  • Your critique group, writing partner, and beta readers critiqued this manuscript. They found and suggested ways to improve grammar and spelling, as well as ideas to improve the story, plot, characters, setting, continuity, and believability.

  • If you get your manuscript to the quality/best it can be, you Have the essentials for submitting: Go for it. 

    Step 1 Get work critiqued, revised, printed, and proofed.

    Step 2 Choose the publisher, editor, agent, or contest for this writing project.

    Step 3 Write the pitch, query letter, cover letter, resume, bio, and/or proposal as required by the guidelines of the editor, agent, or contest you chose for submission this time.

    Step 4 Proof and Send your pitch, query letter, cover letter, resume, bio, and/or proposal as required by the guidelines of the editor, agent, or contest you chose for submission this time.

8. Did you follow the guidelines?
Don’t sabotage your own success. Follow the guidelines. Following the directions for the guidelines is the final requirement for a quality manuscript. When you don’t follow the directions, it lowers your grade to a C or lower. If it says, email submissions only and you send it by U.S. postal service, the agent or editor may not even read it. It may seem heartless, however, your submission may end up in the trash can. The editor or agent may think if you can’t follow these simple directions, you won’t be able to follow suggestions to make your manuscript a top-notch best-selling book.
I hope these ideas help you keep going, even when you feel like giving up.
Good luck with the publication of your best

There was a giveaway with this post. Winners names are in the comment area.

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2013 Joan Y. Edwards


Here are links to ten articles about a writer’s errors. Use them if you want a thorough, intense study of possible errors. If you know a problem that has shown up in your work, ask your critique group to help you find them. 

  1. Amanda Patterson. “The Five Most Common Problems First Time Writers Share:”

  2. Dara Marks.  The Writer’s Store. ”The Fatal Flaw, The Most Essential Element for Bringing Characters to Life:”

  3. E.H. Williams, Hamilton, Biology Department, “Common Writing Mistakes:”

  4. Judy Rose.  Writing “Ten Common Writing Mistakes Your Spell Checker Won’t Find:”

  5. Laura Spencer.  Free Lance “20 Writing Mistakes That Make Any Freelancer Look Bad:”

  6. Pat Holt. “Ten Mistakes Writers Don’t See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do):”

Please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards, Author

Firebird Book Award Winner Flip Flap Floodle Will this little duck’s song save him from Mr. Fox?

Joan’s Elder Care Guide Gives ways to keep both you and your elder healthier.
Copyright © 2009-2022 Joan Y. Edwards

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9 thoughts on “Is Your Manuscript Ready to Submit?”

  1. Joan,
    This is packed with great tips for polishing a manuscript before submitting. Now to hold back the reins and check your list twice before hitting “send.”
    Thanks for all the time and quality you put in this.

  2. You have a great post. So much useful information that I had to bookmark this page so I can refer to it frequently. I am getting back into my writing after a long absence. The tips and suggestions you wrote about, I need to remember. Number 6, I should highlight. This is a big part of my problem when it comes to writing.
    Thank you for such an informative blog.

    1. Dear Gail,
      Thank you for writing. I appreciate the compliment in which you said this is a great post. I am delighted that you bookmarked the page so you can refer to it frequently. I’m glad you’re getting back into your writing after a long absence. That means you’ve had bunches and bunches of life experiences to weave into your writing. Number 6, proper formatting, pet words, punctuation and grammar can be very tricky. They have online courses at Community Colleges and other places that may help you there. Set your goals to improve in one area there. Don’t expect perfection, just improvement.
      Celebrate your desire to learn

    1. Dear Carol,
      Thanks for writing. I’m glad you think that all components of my tests are necessary and show that there is lots of work in order to get a good product.
      Celebrate your dedication to good writing

    1. Dear Mona,
      Thank you for writing. I’m glad you think this is a good post. I’m glad the contest got you really excited.
      I wish I could meet you in person, Mona. You are so energetic and fun!
      Celebrate your friendly ways,

  3. Thank you Joan for another wisdom-filled, and practical, post! Your constant encouragement is a top ten motivator for many of us!

    1. Dear Brenda,
      Thank you for writing. It’s good to hear from you. You’re welcome for the Manuscript Quality Control Test. It delights me that my encouragement is a top ten motivator for you and others. Top ten…I’ve never been a top ten before. Thanks.
      Never Give Up

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