Once you’ve written “The End,” how do you prepare for your manuscript to go in front of new eyes?
By “new eyes,” I mean those of your editor, beta readers, or ARC team—that special selection of people who get to see your “book” before it’s truly a book. Putting your published book out into the world is a whole different level of courage, but that doesn’t mean sharing the just-finished story feels any less nerve-wracking.
Here, I’ve been on both sides of the table. I remember the feeling of sending my first manuscript to my beta team … and the all-caps text I sent to a friend afterward. And as an editor, I’ve seen it all, from emails warning me about the scenes they think read awkwardly to authors who want to apologize for every mistake I find.
Still, for all the time we spend worrying about how our story will be received, perhaps we’re ignoring a more important aspect of letting our manuscripts fly the nest. There are plenty of times the publishing process asks us to trust others with the work we’ve pored over for countless hours, and as IAM’s Tiffany Robinson points out in her feature this month, it can be easy to overlook the security of your draft once it’s in others’ hands. You likely backed up your work-in-progress as you wrote it; if not, this month’s 10 Tips piece might offer an idea for an easy—and free—way to start. But have you preserved a master file separate from the one you send to others? Did you remind your beta team not to share snippets of your work without permission? Are you distributing ARCs securely, so only your selected readers can access them?
We like to think the team we work with will treat our book with the care it deserves, and as preciously as some of our readers will once it’s in their hands. But maybe it’s time we all take a moment to do the same.
Your words are valuable; in this editor’s opinion, that’s worth protecting.
Editor in Chief