I have a novel I finished last year, and have been holding off submitting queries to agents because I have been procrastinating editing the book. Should I just buckle down and edit the novel, or start submitting queries for the novel with the unedited draft. Should I focus more on writing the pitch instead of editing the novel? Do both? Just get off my butt and edit the dang novel already?
Oh dear, oh dear. I think it’s time to get off your butt and decide if you really want to be published or just write. A year? Well, the smartest thing you did here was hold off on querying. Never, ever, ever think of querying, don’t even think of it, until your novel is written, edited, revised, polished and as perfect as you’re ever going to get it. The top priority in every author’s writing life is always the work; pitching, publicity, marketing, blogging, twittering, facebooking, quoting all come secondary.
What you need to do is sit down and edit that novel to death. And then, you need to put it aside for two weeks or maybe even a month while you sit down and start writing that second novel. Why? Well, I’m making an assumption here, but I’m thinking that you haven’t been doing any novel writing in a year. If that’s the case you’re not ready for publication. Agents and especially publishers want career novelists, authors who will write book after book after book. If you’re the kind of author who feels she’s only got one book in her, then unless you’re Harper Lee it’s going to be difficult to find a home. Many debut contracts are for more than one book.
Editing is not always the best part of the job and it’s certainly not the prettiest, but I think editing that book is more important than writing it. It’s what makes the book really sing and it’s absolutely necessary. So get editing, keep writing, and then think of querying.