It’s been an eventful year for the publishing industry and writers in general. I still hold fast to the notion that good writing will always triumph, but this year a suite of decisions were made that will likely affect the range and number of fine new writers becoming known. These decisions include the gutting of the Australia Council; the scrapping of the Book Industry Council; the Harper Review recommending removing parallel importation restrictions; more job losses across the industry; and news on the meagre incomes of most writers from Macquarie’s Australian Authors report.
And yet fine writing – where an understanding of both craft and of humanity are apparent – will always be produced, though the author must become ever more self-reliant.
You might have been working for years on your manuscript or got that first draft down in a month because of NaNoWriMo. The important thing is that it’s finished. But it’s not of course, at least not yet. It’s one draft, and several more will follow.
There is no clearer signal to a fresh start than the beginning of a new year and in January computers across the nation hum as aspiring writers tweak and noodle their manuscripts in haste to send off to publishers.
Rather than rush to adjust or fiddle, first sit and read it in hard copy – not on screen. Make notes as you read, noting lulls in narrative drive, too much back story, insufficient use of dialogue. Does it surprise? Does it move? Does it deliver something in a new way? If you tire of reading it, you can be sure any publisher will too.
And don’t rush to complete these revisions over your holidays. More than ever (see above) it’s essential that an author have their manuscript in the best shape possible before sending to a publisher – and that takes time.
Have a great and productive summer break and safe start to 2016 and I’ll be back late January.