always asking questions

“…I’ve written a novel and I think I’m ready to submit it to publishers. What advice do you typically give new authors in this situation? Thanks!” – JW, New York.

Dear JW,

Thanks for the wonderful things you said about the Timothy James Beck books. I’m glad you enjoyed them, and if you read any of our books in the future, I hope you take the time to write to us again. As for your question, first, let me say that I don’t normally like to dole out advice, because to have advice usually implies a position of knowledge and authority. The only position I prefer is prone, preferably while sleeping. That being said, and since I’m awake, I think it’s great that you’ve finished writing a novel. Congratulations! Most people don’t make it that far.

I won’t give advice, because advice often goes unheeded, but I will share experience. My experience is that most editors love a tight manuscript. Which means, don’t submit it anywhere until you’ve reread and proofed your manuscript at least three or more times and think it’s the best it could possibly be. Don’t rely on your text editing software’s spell check program, because even it can let mistakes slip by unnoticed. Also, take the time to research the submission guidelines for each publisher. They’re often different, and their guidelines apply to you. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking, Oh, they won’t care that I used Arial font instead of Times New Roman. They will care.

If you’re the sort of person who fancies themselves a book critic with no qualms about ripping writers and their works to shreds on every Internet forum and Web site from here to Kalamazoo, I wish you the best of luck and beg you never to mention my name to anyone, because I won’t want to be associated with you. Remember that writing is work. Would you be openly opinionated, difficult, and piss people off in any other job? The writer whose work you judged harshly yesterday could be the editor you submit your manuscript to tomorrow. Good luck with that. I always treat my writing career as a career and try to act accordingly.

Also, if you’ve watched movies based on John Irving novels you might want to forget everything you’ve seen. When your novel is published you probably won’t be the toast of the town. You probably won’t be able to quit your job and buy a penthouse in the city. Your editor probably won’t be your best friend and advise you on how to live your life. However, you may find yourself wanting to jump out of an open window. If any of that does happen for you, other than the jumping out of an open window part, mazel tov! If that’s the case, feel free to mention my name, and I’ll be available for dinner on Fridays. =)

Good luck with everything, JW!


About timothyjlambert

Timothy J. Lambert is allegedly a writer.
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