Pitch a Book, Win an Edit


The time has come: Pitch a Book, Win an Edit has arrived! I’ve tried to predict and answer all your below:

What is Pitch a Book, Win an Edit? Pitch a Book, Win an Edit is a contest where everybody wins, but only one person gets the grand prize. Writers pitch their completed manuscript to me the same way they would to an agent/publisher, and I will pick the submission I think has the most potential. That writer will win a developmental edit of their full manuscript!

Everyone else, while they won’t receive the free edit, will receive a response explaining why I did not pick their submission. So, even if you don’t win the grand prize, you will receive feedback that will hopefully help you improve your concept or query for future submissions.

How do I submit? Email your query to winanedit@gmail.com before June 28, 2019 at 11:59 pm EST. Manuscripts in any genre or age group, and of any length, are welcomed. Your email must include:

  • subject line I want to win an edit for Title by Author Name (Insert your manuscript title and your author name. Any emails without the appropriate subject line will be deleted without opening).
  • a query letter with:
    • a personalized opening (e.g. Dear Jessica, Attention Ms. Trudel)
    • metadata (age group, genre, and wordcount)
    • 1-2 paragraph plot/character summary
    • short author bio
  • the first 3000 words of your manuscript (pasted in the body of the email)

Absolutely no attachments. Each author may submit only once to this contest. If you do not follow the submission instructions, your submission will be rejected. Read and re-read the submission guidelines before you click send.

What will you do with my submission? After reading your query letter and the first 3000 words of your manuscript, I may want to see more of your manuscript or see a synopsis of your book. If so, I will email you to request additional materials. Make sure your full manuscript and book synopsis are ready to go.

On the other hand, I may not feel your submission is the winning submission. If so, I’ll email you back right away briefly explaining why you did not win. It could be that you didn’t follow the submission instructions, or it could be that I don’t feel your manuscript is ready for developmental editing. Please remember, my comments are meant to help you improve your story concept or querying skills. My words are not a personal attack, though I know it can feel like I’m attacking your book baby.

When will the winner be announced? The winner will be announced this summer, though I can’t be sure when as it will depend on how many submissions I receive. I reserve the right to close the contest to new entries at any time if I receive more submissions than I can handle.

What do I do if I don’t receive a response to my submission? All submissions will be responded to prior to the announcement of the winner, so if you have not received a response by the time the winner is announced, your submission either did not have the appropriate subject line (and thus was deleted without opening), or I did not receive it. Please check your email sent folder to verify that you did in fact send your entry prior to the deadline, and that the subject line followed the submission guidelines. Feel free to reply to your original sent email if you think I missed your entry or deleted it unfairly.

When will the winning manuscript be edited? The developmental edit will be completed in or by Fall 2019 depending on the length of the winning manuscript and the complexity of the edits.

What’s in this for you? An editor’s career flourishes after their name is attached to a successful, published book. The goal is for me to choose an author/manuscript that I believe has the most potential to not just be published, but become a bestseller. No, I’m not phishing for book ideas to steal: I have enough book ideas of my own that I will never have a chance to write.

What if I have questions not answered here? If you have questions, do not email the contest address as any email sent to that address without the correct subject line will be deleted. Please email jessicatrudelwrites@gmail.com with any questions related to this contest. You may also ask me on Twitter if you prefer. My handle is @reallitbulbs.

“Jessica Trudel recently provided me with a structural edit of my first novel. I am extremely impressed with her professional and in-depth feedback. An hour long face chat today after receiving the written report was invaluable. Jessica is easy to chat to and her feedback and ideas are fantastic. I can highly recommend her editing services.” – Sal Gallaher

The Ache of Apathy

Writers are rebels by nature.

For a writer, a sudden strike of inspiration is like a cold splash of water in the face. Inspiration provides a writer with their second wind, but it usually comes at a price. Not only can you not sleep once you’ve been struck, but heeding its call usually leads you down a rabbit hole of restless creativity.

It’s 2 a.m., and I’ve tried to go to bed three times already. Instead, I’m writing this. When I look at this tomorrow, it will seem like complete dribble, and I’ll wonder why in the hell I lost sleep over it.

When I go to bed, inspiration usually comes calling. It’s in these quiet moments, when there’s no screen in front of my face, that all those ideas that were simmering in the background make their way to the foreground. I’ll suddenly realize the answer to a plot dilemma I’ve been struggling with for days. Other times, I’m inspired to write something new.

I have to get up and write it; I can’t sleep until I do. I know from experience that if I ignore it and wait for sleep to take me, I won’t remember the idea in the morning.

I always regret it.

What I think will take five minutes inevitably takes an hour. One idea flows into another. You may even return to bed thinking the inspiration has passed only to find your mind still full of ideas that you must write down. The cycle begins again.

Why do we lose sleep for our art? It goes back to being a rebel. In those quiet moments, when I’m debating if I want to get out of bed to write or roll over and try to sleep, one thought prevails: why am I so concerned about losing sleep? The answer is, “Because I have to _______ in the morning.”

Fill in the blank with your own responsibilities, the things you have to do. Now join me in a collective sigh.

Most artists – writers included – have day jobs, kids, or other responsibilities that may bring them a certain joy, but it’s not quite the same kind of satisfaction, is it? There are a lucky few who can make a living from their art, but most have another pay check to worry about. And we (secretly or not so secretly) resent the fact that we have to expend energy on anything else.

The desire to be a rebel is what drives us out of bed at night. We don’t’ want to be well-rested for our day jobs. We don’t want to do what we should do. We should be suffering for our art, we think. That’s what makes us artists, and separates us from everyone else.

So, stubbornly, we drag ourselves out of bed. The fear of forgetting our inspiration is strong, and the drag of fatigue tomorrow will be hard to contend with, but the ache of apathy would be so much worse.

How to Write Without Editing

for the Sake of your NaNoing Sanity

Every November, a battle cry can be heard across the globe as burgeoning writers take up their sharp implements against a common foe—the editor within.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is when everyone asks the same question: is it really possible to write 50,000 words in thirty days? As a past NaNoWriMo winner, I promise you it is possible – if you can ignore your internal editor.

Under normal circumstances, I can take three days to write a paragraph: I write it, read it, edit it, re-read it, scrap it, rewrite it, and edit it again before I can finally move on. Often, that paragraph gets scrapped in a later draft. Why did I waste all that time?

My internal editor is a problem: I know it and he knows it. NOTE: for the purposes of this article, the internal editor will hereafter be referred to as a “he”.

You need to shut down your internal editor for the all-important month of November. NaNoWriMo is about producing quantity, not quality. As awful as that sounds, it really is a good thing. Instead of spending several hours perfecting something you may scrap later, you can just focus on completing the story.

Below, you’ll find six strategies you can use to defeat your internal editor without injury to either party. You don’t want to kill him after all; you just want to send him on a thirty-day vacation.

1. Ignore Him

He’s there and he’s talking. He’s ALWAYS talking and you can’t make it stop! Have you ever considered just ignoring him?

You’re bound to hear a little voice in your head saying, “That’s the worst sentence you’ve ever written.” Under normal circumstances, you’d backspace and rewrite the offending sentence into something tolerable. But what if you didn’t? What if you just left that terrible sentence there and kept writing? What’s the worst that could happen? The sentence will still be there when it’s time to edit. If it’s that bad, you’re not going to miss it. If you do miss it, it couldn’t have been that bad a sentence to begin with.

The purpose of each sentence you write during NaNoWriMo is to get you from Point A to Point B; it’s not about blowing the mind of a potential reader. No one but you is ever going read your first draft. Just ignore that little voice in your head telling you that you’re not good enough.

2. Pick a Point in the Distance and Keep Walking

So you ignored him, but now he’s following you around like a little lost puppy dog. What do you do now? Just keep walking my friend and don’t look back!

You want to always be moving forward, never backward. Remember what I was saying about Point A to Point B? You must always remember the end goal: a finished story. What you’re writing has a purpose, even if it’s complete dribble. It is your plot, your rough draft, your outline—whatever you want to call it. It is the meat of your novel without any of the garnishes. So when your internal editor calls out in that pathetic ‘how can you just ignore me’ way, don’t look into those sad puppy dog eyes or you’re a goner.

Remember the goal and keep pushing towards it. Don’t reread anything you’ve written. Even if you want to remember where you left off yesterday, leave yourself a note with a one-line reminder of where you are in the story (e.g. Sara and Danny are arguing). Never re-read anything until you’re done your first draft.

3. Blindfold Him

You’ve turned a blind-eye to him, but he can still see you clear as day. Will he ever stop following you? The least you can do is slow him down!

If your eyes just keep drifting upwards, it’s time to do something drastic: invisible ink! Thankfully, we don’t need real invisible ink—we have computers now-a-days. Go to the font menu of your word processor and change your text color to white. As you’re typing, the words will be inputted, the cursor will be moving forward, but you won’t be able to see the words because the text color matches the background.

If that wall of white makes you uneasy, you can always go with something more colorful. Change your background to blue, or yellow, or pink—whatever makes you happy and puts you in a creative mood. The important thing is that your text color matches the background. It’s a good idea to turn off your grammar and spelling checker too so you don’t see any green or red squiggly lines.

I want to warn you that turning off your monitor is not an acceptable alternative. Between pop-ups and error messages, the last thing you need is to turn on the monitor after an uninterrupted hour of typing to discover another window interfered with your keystrokes. With the text color method, you can always see the word processor window and your cursor jumping perpetually forward.

4. Lose Him

Somehow, he’s managed to stay nearby, so he must be tracking your scent—the clear, unmistakable smell of NaNoWriMo fear. It’s time to go futuristic on his ass and try a little teleportation. See if he can track you now!

Writer’s block is bound to happen, so remember: the goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in 30 days—it doesn’t matter in what order. If you’re stuck on one spot in your story, jump to somewhere else that excites you. Is there a big fight scene at the end you’ve been looking forward to writing? Write it now! The other benefit to not being worried about the quality of your writing is that you can worry about correcting continuity errors later. Keep it fun and write what you want, when you want.

If you’re going to do this, organization is key. I find it useful to save my novel in individual scenes, rather than as one big wall of text. Software programs like Scrivener make this method extra easy, but you can do it with your regular word processor too. Just save your scene with a title that describes what’s happening in the scene. I like to track my scenes in a companion excel sheet to make it extra easy to re-organize later.

5. Throw Him a Bone

You’ve tried everything, it seems, but you just can’t shake him. That’s alright—this is a marathon, not a sprint.

If you can’t concentrate on writing anymore, or if your internal editor is starting to take over, take a break. Eat a snack, have a glass of water, stretch a few muscles. It’s easy to forget to take care of yourself when you’re sitting for a long time, but, if anything, you need to take better care!

Here’s some things you can do:
– Keep some healthy snacks handy like fruits, veggies, crackers, lean meats, nuts and seeds
– Stand up once in a while and do some quick stretches at your desk or table
– Keep a bottle of water nearby and take a mouthful or two every ten minutes
– If you’re feeling unenergetic, a brisk walk around the block will wake you up, especially if you live in a colder climate like me

Don’t take too long of a break, though. It may be hard to get mobile again if you give your brain too much time to relax. It only takes one misstep to break the writing routine you’ve created. Television is not your friend! Watching one episode of your favourite show will take at least 30 minutes of your time, possibly an hour, so don’t fall into that trap. Think about the time you’ll waste on commercials alone!

6. Phone a Friend

It’s been hours, days, even weeks, and this guy is just about to tip you over the edge. That’s ok, just grab your phone, call your BFF, and shout, “I’m about to murderize him!”

Your lifeline in NaNoWriMo is your people: friends, family, ghosts—whomever it is you speak to when you’re feeling stressed. The best thing you can do is find a writing partner, preferably someone who is also participating in the event, to keep you accountable. If you know so-and-so is waiting for you at the library, you’re much more likely to stick to your routine. They’ll also be a great person to brainstorm with, or a wonderful shoulder to cry on if you get overwhelmed. Ideally, they will keep you calm and help you chill—without having to throw you in a snow bank.

Don’t forget about your local/regional Municipal Liaisons! We’re here to help writers by organizing group write-ins for mutual accountability. Nanowrimo.org has plenty of fantastic online resources, including chat rooms, forums, and much more. No need to “murderize” anyone—after all, you’ll want your internal editor back when November is over!