Thursday, July 19, 2012

Guest Post from A. L. Jackson and G*veaway of Take This Regret - How to Avoid the Slush Pile

Hi everyone. I’m A. L. Jackson, author of Pulled and Take This Regret, and I’m excited to share with you all today my tips on avoiding the slush pile. As an author and the co-owner of a small publishing house, I know submitting a manuscript can be one of the most nerve-racking steps we ever take as authors. We sit in front of our computers biting our nails, refreshing our email hour after hour, waiting to hear something back.

All the while, our submissions are sitting on someone’s desk waiting to be reviewed.

So how do you keep your manuscript from hitting the slush pile once someone does look it?

First, be sure you follow the publisher or agent’s submission guidelines to a tee. If you miss something or ignore instructions, your manuscript will most likely be rejected before the editor or agent even reads the first line.  Be sure that you don’t come across as someone who doesn’t know how to follow instructions or someone who just doesn’t care about them. Both are red flags.

Second and most important in my opinion is ensuring your book immediately hooks the reader. The writing should be strong and raise questions that make the reader want to continue on to get those answers. Don’t start with backstory on your main character or over-describe the setting. Get right into the conflict and then weave those other details in later. Be sure the first few pages are both clear and interesting.  The reader should be intrigued, but not confused, and most definitely should not be bored.

Be sure the portion you’re submitting has been carefully proofed and is formatted correctly (again check for submission guidelines to find out if a specific format is requested). Taking these small steps show you’re serious about your submission and are committed to your writing. If an editor is spending more time noticing typos or wonky formatting, it will distract from your writing. 

Take the time to ensure your submission stands out from the masses. These three points above can mean the difference between opening an email with a rejection letter or one asking to see your full manuscript. 

Wishing you all luck with your writing endeavors!

 There are some mistakes we make that we will regret for the rest of our lives.  For Christian, it was the day he betrayed Elizabeth. 
Christian Davison has a plan for his life.  He is determined to become an attorney and to one daytake his place as partner in his father’s law firm.  Nothing will stand in his way, not even Elizabeth Ayers and their unborn child.
After Christian cuts her from his life, Elizabeth spends the next five years struggling to provide for her daughter and willing to sacrifice anything to give her child a safe, comfortable life.  
For five years, Christian has regretted the day he walked away from his family and will do anything to win them back just as Elizabeth will do anything to protect her daughter from the certain heartache she believes Christian will bring upon them.
When Christian wrestles his way into their lives, Elizabeth is faced with asking herself if it is possible to forgive someone when they’ve committed the unforgiveable and if it is possible to find a love after it has been buried in years of hate.  Or are there some wounds that go so deep they can never heal?
They say everyone deserves a second chance.


Two hours later, Christian sat at his desk studying for his politics midterm, all the while listening intently for the sound of footsteps outside his door he felt certain he would hear. He trained his attention on the heavy textbook in front of him, trying to ignore the growing anxiety he felt each time he picked up his cell phone to check if he’d missed any messages.

None came.

It was well after midnight when he crawled into bed, convinced she just needed some time to realize he was right. He had to be right. He wouldn’t allow himself to think otherwise, so every time that wave of guilt came, he pushed it aside.

He envisioned her awake, just as he was, tossing uncomfortably in her small bed that rested in the far corner of her studio apartment and slowly coming to terms with what she needed to do.

But when he dragged his unrested body from his bed the next morning, his phone was still devoid of messages.

He had been cruel—he knew it. He could only hope he hadn’t pushed her too far, but that she would somehow understand he was just trying to protect their future.

Christian ate a bowl of cold cereal and then forced himself into the steam of his shower, desperate to find anything to chase away his fatigue. He found his head in a cloud, both from lack of sleep and from the scenarios running through his mind, ones including a life without Elizabeth.

What if she never came back?

Could he really give her up?

As he rubbed the soapy washcloth over his body, he tried to picture an existence without her. A life void of the perfect pitch of her voice, the way it rang out when she laughed. A life in which he didn’t touch the softness of her skin or have the right to pull her body against his. A life without a child crying out from the next room as he tried unsuccessfully to study for the bar.

Groaning, he shook his head and forced it all away, telling himself it would not come to that.

He was certain when he saw her in class today, she would take her normal seat beside him in the lecture hall, lean in, and whisper in his ear that he was right.

But when her seat remained vacant, his unease grew, gnawing at his stomach. The moment the professor dismissed class, Christian raced from the room and to the café where Elizabeth and he studied every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. He frantically scanned the room, finding several mildly familiar faces but not the one he wanted to see.

By the time he reached her apartment complex, he was panting, both from exertion from the mile he had run and the constriction fear had placed on his heart. He pounded on the door, giving her no time to answer before he yelled, “Elizabeth!” There was no sound from the other side, no rustling of curtains or faint shuffling of feet. Even then, he wasn’t satisfied. Fumbling with his keys, he found his spare and pushed it into the lock.

The door opened to the quietness, the small studio comfortably cluttered as always. The only thing that seemed amiss was the blankets from her normally neat bed were strewn on the floor. Christian crossed the space to the only separate room. The door to the bathroom rested ajar, that room as empty as the first.

Christian pressed his back against the wall and took a deep breath. He wasn’t prepared for this. He’d never thought it would go this far.

Reluctantly, he forced himself out of the apartment, shutting and locking the door behind him before he left, hating the voice inside his head that kept telling him this was for the best.

Review to be posted shortly

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E. Arroyo said...

Thanks for the great advice. =)

Mandy said...

I remember getting one submission wrong - the publisher asked for a partial and I sent the whole manuscript...was that really a mistake? LOL!

Have Take This Regret on my Kindle and can't wait to read it! Loved Pulled!


Carrie Butler said...

Wonderful advice! Thank you for sharing. :)

Julie Hedlund said...

Thanks for great slushpile tips!

Anonymous said...

Submitting to agents and publishers is the most stressful thing a writer can go through. Thanks for the wonderful advice!
I've read Take This Regret. It's heartbreaking and wonderful.

Johanna Denton said...

I agree with the other comments about this being such useful advice. Thanks so much for sharing.

Ink in the Book said...

Thanks, Nicole, for the fabulous posting! Pulled was AMAZING. I haven't had the chance to read Take This Regret. Yet. But I plan too.

Patty said...

Great post! :)

A. L. Jackson said...

I just wanted to say thank you to Nicole for hosting me and thanks to all of you for commenting!

David P. King said...

Great post, Jackson! Thanks for hosting, Nicole. :)

Nicky Wells said...

Great advice for all authors out there, and stunning excerpt. Thanks, AL and Nicole.