At the Public Safety Writers Association Conference, we also had a panel with a publisher (one who posts here and os my publisher, Billie Johnson), along with a couple of free-lance editors.
1. One of the first tips given was a query letter must be free of typos.
2. Many publishers today expect the author to have a marketing plan that tells how the author is going to promote their book.
3. Having your book edited before you submit is a good idea. It was suggested that the author get recommendations for an editor from someone he/she knows and trusts. Beware of agents who take on a writer, then recommend an editor.
4. The author should be sure to follow the publishers' guidelines for submissions. Not doing that can be what kicks the author's manuscript out without even being considered.
The panel on Developing Characters consisted of an editor and several published authors, here are the highlights from that panel:
The main character should have flaws and reasons for not wanting to do what he will have to do.
The author should ask question of the characters to know why the character acts as he/she does.
Characters do make mistakes and sometimes the mistakes make the book.
The side-kick character should be off to the side and not overshadow the hero or heroine.
Characters should be surprising.
The author must make the person real, including his or her physical reaction to things around him/her.
You can build characters on people you know--though there was a bit of disagreement about this. However, I often base a fictional character on a real person, changing physical characteristics, and I've never had anyone recognize themself.
This was an exceptionally good writers' conference! For more information about PSWA, go to their excellent website.
Marilyn Meredith is the author of over twenty-five published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest Kindred Spirits from Mundania Press. Under the name of F. M. Meredith she writes the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, No Sanctuary is the newest from Oak Tree Press.