- You have a finished manuscript. I cannot overemphasize how important this is. Your ms has to already have a beginning, middle, and end. It has to have a developed plot and characters. It needs to be as good as you can get it without the help of a professional editor. Maybe you're not 100% sold on the ending you've written or the need for one of your minor characters, but you've committed regardless and the thing is DONE.
- You are passionate about self-publishing this manuscript. You've researched the options, read many different perspectives on why you should and should not self-publish, you know that indie authorship is two full-time jobs put together, and for any number of reasons, you know that self-publishing is the way to go with this book. Perhaps you've only been held back from fully committing to the self-published route because it's important to you to publish a high-quality book and knew you couldn't afford the costs and/or because you haven't the first clue about how to market a book - in which case, this contest is *perfect* for you. But if an agent or publishing house called you up tomorrow and offered to take on this novel, would you squeal with joy and accept in half a heartbeat with zero reservations? If so, this isn't the right contest for you. We *love* authors who want to publish traditionally - many of the editors who are working on this contest also work on Revise & Resub, a contest for querying authors - but we developed this contest specifically to support emerging indie authors who are passionate about self-publishing, so that's who we want to reach here.
- Your manuscript is a workable length. One of the advantages to self-publishing is that your book doesn't have to conform to the length standards of traditional publishing. That said, we still only have seven weeks for editing in this contest, and our goal is to get your ms ready for copy editing, which means that we're limited in terms of how much manuscript we can take on. Each editor has her own idea about how much ms she's willing to take on (check out the MSWLs and follow up on this in the #AskEditor chats), but if your word count is over 100K, I recommend this post about the most common reasons I see for high word counts and get your word count down a little further.
- You've revised your ms in response to feedback. Probably more than once. By "feedback," I mean from a beta reader or critique partner - someone who gets stories and will be honest with you. And by "revised" I mean you've worked hard on overall structure, character development, world building, pacing, and conflict. You've gone back in again and perfected your first five pages because you know that's all you have to get our attention. And then you've polished your first 50 pages a couple of times, both for the big picture and for language-level details. Do the editors expect your ms to be perfect? No. But it has to be as close to done as you can get it without a professional editor. Because I guarantee that we'll have some insight and ideas of our own that will take your awesome book and make it even awesomer. Which brings me to...
- You're still open to doing more revision. You need to be super honest with yourself right now: How are you feeling about your ms? Are you burnt out on it? Convinced that it's perfect as-is? The ShoreIndie Contest is 90% about the editing round, so you need to be open to constructive feedback and willing to roll up your sleeves and work hard - again. If you aren't open to hearing that your book isn't done, or you don't have any more energy to put into it, it's not the right time to submit.
- You will have the time & energy to work hard. I intend to take my author through two to three rounds of editing. In past contests, my authors have taken time off of work, cloistered themselves away from their families, and worked late into the nights to execute the changes we'd agreed on because they understood that they had access to a professional editor for free for a a limited time. The editors who participate in this challenge are willing to give you a lot of ourselves during the editing round; you need to be willing to bring it, too. So time for more honesty here: How much time are you realistically going to be able to devote to revisions during the editing round? If you're going to be traveling, will need to focus a lot of your time and attention on your family/relationships, or will have a lot going on in your day job that'll prevent you from spending a significant amount of time on revision, the timing isn't right.
Once you've decided that you do want to submit in June, it's time to get down to business!
- Read through the ShoreIndie submission guidelines carefully and more than once.
- Read your manuscript one more time to make sure (a) it feels done to you, and (b) you're still willing to put more work into it.
- Attend the free webinar co-hosted by ShoreIndie and Reedsy at noon ET on Saturday, May 20th, and then (re)write your back-of-the-book blurb and (re)polish your first five pages with what you learn. (I encourage you to watch the ShoreIndie-Reedsy webinar for great tips on this!)
- Research the editors and choose up to 3 to submit to. It's super important to understand the editors' MSWLs (we get grumpy about receiving subs that don't fit), but it's also super important for you to get a sense of our personalities. If your submission is chosen, you're going to be working closely with one of us for 7 weeks, and it'll be a much better experience for everyone if you're actually excited about the editor you're working with and respect her professional opinion. In addition to looking at the ShoreIndie editors' profiles and websites, show up to as many of the #AskEditor sessions as you can May 27th-June 2nd to get a deeper sense of who we are, how we think, and how we work.
- Send your submission materials to a critique partner or friend to make sure you haven't overlooked anything.
- June 3-5: SUBMIT!
You don't need to be a contestant in order to benefit from the amazingly supportive and enthusiastic ShoreIndie community. Even if you decide not to submit this June, you can still join the party: ask questions, favorite, retweet, attend the webinar, shake your pom-poms for your friends, find a critique partner and/or an editor and/or ARC readers, enter the giveaways, and learn from the editors' #AskEditor and #SIsubs tweets as well as from the Featured Authors' #AskAuthor chats. Be sure to follow @ShoreIndie and tune in to the #ShoreIndie hashtag on Twitter for announcements, tips, and mini-workshops run by the ShoreIndie editors.
For more about how to get your ms whipped into shape, check out these posts on Sione's blog:
Your novel's structure
Your novel's word count
First 50 pages