Thursday, November 1, 2012
NEED A SECOND OPINION?
Have you ever thought of authors needing a ‘second opinion’ on their manuscripts before they are submitted to an editor or agent for that most important decision? Some writing their very first novel may need a third, fourth – even fifth opinion. So who can writers consult for those opinions?
I was very fortunate to have a very knowledgeable doctor who immediately realised the gravity of my situation and acted accordingly. But I certainly needed those folk at the hospital who did those vital tests needed for the ‘third opinion’ hospital doctor to ask the specialist, the urologist, to give the fourth opinion and order the correct treatment he had been trained to give.
And what about the people who have been asked for opinions on another writer’s sweated over efforts to present the story they have taken a long time to finish. How should they respond?
My doctor knew I was very sick – which incidentally I did not know at the time – and acted appropriately to help me. I am so glad she had been well trained to know what needed to be done. So writers need to be careful who they ask to read their manuscripts. Family members and good friends may be okay for that ‘first opinion’ but not be the best qualified readers for the second. They can say whether they enjoyed your story or not, but because of your close relationship may not wish to hurt you if they do not think it is a good story. Some may also be too hesitant to point out problems in your fiction writing technique. I also hasten to add that it may not be wise to ask some friends with writing experience to read your efforts, especially if they are not readers or writers of your particular type of genre. I have also discovered that writers only of non-fiction – yes, and even editors too of non-fiction – are not always the right folk to ask to check your fiction manuscript.
And there is another problem for those of us who know other published authors in our genre whose books we like and would like to pluck up courage to ask. Most are so busy they rarely have time to read whole manuscripts sent to them – especially by beginner writers. Over the years there have been published authors who have started their own businesses as manuscript assessors. There usually is a charge of course because these writers are using their own writing time to try and help others.
One such author I know of is Jeanne Marie Leach.
She has her charges listed on her website. For example, she offers what I think is a very fare first offer:
No charge for basic read of first 5 pages – which determines extent of editing necessary.
Do click here and check out her website.
Omega Writers in Australia has one free manuscript appraisal up to 50 pages each year as part of their help for their members. Other writers groups and organisations also offer help in various ways. It is VERY worthwhile being a member of a good writiers organisation.
Whatever you do, please recognise that especially if you have had little training for writing a novel of any genre, you most likely need at least a ‘second opinion’ to make it the best you possibly can before trying to find a publisher – or also self-publish of course.
I have tried to help other writers over the years but like many other published authors, there have been too many times I hate to have had to say, ‘Sorry, I am afraid my own commitments right now schedule right now does not give me enough time to do your manuscript justice.’
Please leave a comment about any other authors you know of, and especially any you have had personal experience with, who currently can offer help with fiction manuscripts.
Mary Hawkins is a best-selling inspirational romance author.
Over the years she has enjoyed mentoring writers and trying to share what she has been learning about writing novels. She has enjoyed many speaking appointments and has presented workshops at various writer's groups, including Romance Writers of Australia and in recent years at the Word Writers events in Queensland sponsored by Omega Writers and Wombat Books. She lives in Tasmania with her husband Ray, who is also a published author of the 31 Day Devotional books and a contributor to the ICFW Friday Devotions. She is currently trying hard to get back into completing her 18th manuscript as she continues to recover from septicaemia. Mary's novel, Return to Baragula, is the first book featured on the Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance http://acrba.blogspot.com.au ncing in November.