Nancy's Books

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Is My Manuscript Ready to Submit?

Yesterday, I had a writer ask me how I could tell if my manuscript was ready for submission. Excellent question.

I always want to present my best work to editors and to help do so, I follow a checklist. Here are the basic checkpoints I use before I ship a manuscript to potential publishers, although there may be some points you want to consider for certain genres, such as mysteries, that are not covered here.
Does the manuscript begin with a great hook? A hook is a literary technique that is used at the beginning of a story to “hook” the reader’s attention so s/he will keep reading.
Does the story have an arc? Is there a beginning/middle/ending?
Does the character show growth? Occasionally, fictional picture books (I WANT MY HAT BACK) are published with no character growth, but most have characters that learn a lesson or show some type of growth by the ending. I would urge new writers to aim toward the type of story that develops character growth because editors are more likely to offer contracts for those.
Did you introduce a problem for the character and allow the character to solve the problem? The character with the problem should solve it.
Are sensory descriptors used? Writers tend to focus on the visual, but don’t neglect touch, taste, smell and hearing. Using these descriptions allows the reader to feel as if they are taking a journey with the characters.
Next week, I’ll continue with more checkpoints.
Call for submissions for Young Writers:
The Writer’s Slate publishes poetry and prose from students enrolled in kindergarten through twelfth grade, as well as creative writing by teachers. Publishes three times per year, with one issue completely dedicated toward publishing writing contest winners. Send work to: Shelly McNerney, 7619 Hemlock Street, Overland Park, KS, 66024. Teacher’s name must be included with all submissions.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Highlights High Five. For ages 2 to 6, created by the publishers ofHighlights for Children to help encourage the development of young children and have fun at the same time. Fiction should have an engaging plot, strong characterization, and lively language. Stories that teach by positive example, rather than preach, are preferred. Suggestions of crime and violence are taboo. 500 words or less. Rhyming stories are seldom purchased. Pays $150+ on acceptance. Editor, Christine French Clark; Senior Editor, Marileta Robinson. To: Highlights High Five, Editorial Department, 807 Church Street, Honesdale, PA 18431.

Submission guidelines at


  1. Thanks for these reminders. I am polishing a story to send to Highlight's High Five, so this is all very timely.

  2. Great news. Highlights sometimes resells stories, and although the company doesn't have to pass along the profits to the writer, they do. So who knows where this could lead, Rosi. Good luck.