"No matter how it hurts, be prepared to rip up your manuscript and start over."
He goes on to advise that critiques should come from people you don't know---and perhaps not very nice people at that!
The next article, "Essentials for a Long-Term Writing Career", by John Jakes, a best-selling author of such blockbusters as North and South and The Kent Family Chronicles, echoes that advice about critiques. Aunt Nell is not the best choice for a number of reasons!
He goes on to advise keeping faith in oneself and not tossing a manuscript out with a rejection slip---or even five or six such slips. Learning one's craft and gaining the confidence to "fix" whatever is keeping a manuscript from acceptance and/or sales is an important facet of professionalism, something to which every author should aspire.
This week, I sent off The Face on Miss Fanny's Wall for the third time--just a synopsis and the first three chapters. This afternoon (!) I received a nice note from the acquisitions editor with two attachments giving me information about the press itself and the "Author's Handbook" and requesting that I send the entire manuscript formatted according to said handbook.
Now, this doesn't mean it's going to be accepted by any means, but it isn't a rejection slip either. I am pleased to have come this far, and if more develops, I'll be elated. If, in the end, I receive a rejection, I'll be disappointed but tenacious. Off it goes to the next publisher on the list! Maybe I'll tweak it a bit first, and maybe I won't, but it won't lie around in my documents file too long.
I'll end with the names of two books recommended by Mr. Baird in his article:
- Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King
- Rotten Rejections & Reviews edited by Bill Henderson and Andre Bernard