Writing a 750-page novel? Don’t.

Thinking of writing a book over 500 pages? How about 700? Or even 900 pages?

Do yourself—and your readers—a favor. DON’T.

Yes, some books are huge, like Stephen King’s tome, The Stand. But most of us are not Stephen King. What’s more, if you’re a new writer, most readers aren’t going to stick with your book much past 300 pages. That’s right, reader engagement often drops after that length. So tighten that shit up, folks. Hack, slash, and edit until your book manuscript is as close to the magic page or word count as you can get it.

Chances are, you can tell your story in fewer pages. Big-ass books by inexperienced authors usually mean there’s a lot of editing needed. Unless your book is outstanding or special in some way, readers won’t finish your tome. I don’t care how much you think it’s the next Great American Novel.

Writing a manuscript that’s over 500 pages—much less 900 pages—will get your masterpiece put back on the shelf or unpublished in the first place (if you go the traditional publishing route, that is).

You can do one of two things:

1. Rein in your ego, write tighter, and increase your chances of selling lots of books.

2. Ignore my advice, struggle to engage readers, and fail miserably at selling copies of your bloated tome.

Are there exceptions? Of course! There are exceptions to everything, you silly wabbit.

For instance, if you’re writing a literary novel, your word count will be markedly different than that of a picture book or YA novel.  Use common sense. Do your research and hit the so-called sweet spot on your word/page count.

It’s up to you to decide whether you want to gamble on being the exception to the rule. You feelin’ lucky, punk or punkette?

Are you a give-a-shit writer?

Look, I get that writing a book manuscript isn’t easy. I know it takes countless hours of your life and it can drain your brain like nothing else. If writing were an easy feat, every person would do it. But that’s no excuse for sloppy manuscript submissions. At the minimum, you should have punctuation in  your manuscript, as well as paragraphs. Who the hell thinks having NO PARAGRAPHS in a manuscript is a good idea?!*

(*Interrobangs are so much fun to use, aren’t they?)

Please, respect your editor and publisher. Don’t send them a manuscript that’s laden with errors and half-assed efforts like missing quotation marks (really?). Does a person who never uses quotation marks realize that dialogue requires such marks, or were they too damned lazy to bother with it in the first place? I’m betting on the latter.

While you’re at it, why don’t you run a cursory spell check so it appears you made an attempt to check your work in some small way before you shunted it off to your editor or publisher? Yeah, that would be nice. Oh, wait. Is that too much to ask? For many so-called writers, it is. Learning the craft of writing is SO last century, isn’t it? I mean, who has the TIME? *insert hair flip*

You can always tell the difference between writers who sling together a manuscript in hopes of selling a bunch of books to make a wad of cash versus a writer who takes the craft of writing seriously. The latter will obsess over every. little. detail even after the manuscript is out of his or her hands. In fact, once the book is published, the caring writer will still regret not making even more changes before the book found its way onto the bookshelves. This type of writer gives a shit. 

And the slapdash writer? This is the kind I want to strangle (not really, but the angry emotion is there). Well, that writer doesn’t give a damn about much of anything. They’ll serve up a pile of prosaic poop and expect their editor to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. Who needs to know anything about spelling and grammar, right? The editor should fix all of it, so why does the writer need to know the difference between their/there/they’re? Who has time for figuring out and learning homophones, right? This type of writer gives no shits…at all. They’re the type who will fling crap at a wall and then expect others to turn it into a Picasso. If you’re this type of writer, you’re an asshole. Yep, I said it because it’s true.

The funny thing is, once writers who don’t give a shit have their books published, they’re shocked to learn they’re not outselling J.K. Rowling. Take it from me: these writers almost always go out of their way to tell you how they are the next big thing in the literary world and how all their books will be bestsellers.

Conversely, the writer who gives a shit hardly, if ever, allows those words pass his or her lips. It all leads back to thinking of writing as a craft and something you do for your entire life, as opposed to something you do on a lark to see if you can rake in money so you can brag about it to your Aunt Martha at Christmas time.

Writers who care will write no matter what. Most of the time, they want to earn a living with their words so they can keep writing as a career instead of being stuck in a hellish cubicle doing something they absolutely hate. They cannot NOT write. It’s not possible. Writing is not just what they do, but is an essential part of who they ARE.

People who masquerade as writers only give a shit about writing when they can get something superficial out of it. You won’t find these types at literary meet-ups or discussing the wonders of Shakespeare or Murakami. They won’t know who Jack Kerouac is, nor will they know the difference between David Sedaris and David Copperfield (he’s an author, right?). Because, heck, they probably don’t read much. Reading is for boring people, you see. They may even brag that they haven’t read a book since high school or college. They aren’t concerned with the importance of literature OR the art and craft of writing. They’re concerned with the potential for fame and quick cash to use for their next casino trip to Las Vegas.

It pains me to say it, but the people I’ve described in the previous paragraph are still considered writers. If you write, you’re a writer. But not all writers are the same. This type of writer never earns my respect, nor will they ever. They use writing like it’s little more than a White Chapel whore for their personal pleasure. They use it, wring out what pleasure or benefit they can, and then toss it to the side with nary a backward glance. They don’t truly care about books, writing, literature, authors, readers, or anything of the sort. It’s all about what’s in it for them — that’s it. They’re users, not givers.

Do me a favor, will ya? Strive to become the type of writer who gives a shit, not the kind who doesn’t. If you don’t have the proper respect for books and writing, find another hobby. We need more givers and fewer takers. Which one are you?

This shouldn’t even be a thing, and yet it is.

Abraxas Writing & Editing Services: Notice to Writers & Authors
=====================================================

Effective immediately, Abraxas Writing & Editing Services will no longer accept manuscripts for editing that do not meet basic standards of manuscript formatting and readability. If your manuscript includes the following, we will not edit your work:

* Lack of paragraphs throughout the manuscript
* Lack of quotation marks throughout the manuscript
* Commas used instead of periods to end sentences
* Hard returns throughout the document
* Hidden characters throughout the document (if you aren’t sure what that means, use Google for further information)
* No capital letters at the beginning of every sentence
* Incomplete words as shorthand. Example: ‘e one’ used for ‘everyone’ throughout the manuscript
* Run-on sentences that turn the entire document into one or two long sentences
* Nonstandard fonts and font sizes (if you are unsure what standard fonts and font sizes are for manuscript submissions, it’s time to do your homework)
* Backward quotation marks throughout the document

There may be other egregious errors involved that are not listed here, but you get the point. Any proper document or manuscript must have a minimum of readability and formatting. If your work ignores such basic conventions, then you have corrections to make before you have any business submitting your work to anyone in the publishing industry.

Once you take the time to get your manuscript into proper form, you may then resubmit your manuscript to us for editing or proofreading. If you prefer, you may choose to keep your manuscript as-is or in barely readable form and find someone else who will take the time to muddle through and render it somewhat readable.

We will no longer ask our team of professional editors and proofreaders to wade through thousands of words and hundreds of pages of narrative and dialogue that is barely decipherable or understandable. To submit work in such a manner shows a lack of care and respect for any editor, agent, or publisher.

An essential part of writing professionally is learning the basics of submitting a manuscript for review and revision. If authors cannot or will not take the time to make these changes, we cannot and will not spend our time and energy correcting and improving their unreadable work.
Regards,
Bev Sninchak
Abraxas Writing & Editing Services
nocturnaleditor@gmail.com

Guys: If you’re going to write about sex, make it sexy!

Over the years, I’ve read and edited a lot of manuscripts. Most men cannot write about sex worth a damn. They’re terrible (most of them, anyway). It’s true! Talk about lame. Ugh! When you find yourself rolling your eyes or emitting a deep belly laugh, then you know the scene is anything BUT sensuous or erotic. Guys, please, if you’re not adept at writing sex scenes, DON’T! Don’t name your penises, either. You end up sounding silly, not sexy.

Take your diva attitude — and your book — elsewhere.

Take it from a managing editor (me): Nobody HAS to publish your book. So you can take your diva attitude and stuff it…and take your manuscript elsewhere, while you’re at it. I CANNOT STAND when authors are unnecessarily rude and crude to editors, agents and publishers who are trying to work with them. We are NOT your whipping boys/girls, so don’t let the door hit you in the a** on the way out! Again, so glad the majority of authors are polite and professional. THANK you!