Unpublished Manuscripts: 1 of 5

Welcome to a Sling Words Special Report. As I said in Saturday's introduction to this series, I'm confronted with piles of paper in a closet I need to de-clutter. These are hard copies of various drafts of unpublished manuscripts. I also have these unpublished manuscripts stored on hard drive, flash drive, and diskette. So why am I hanging on to the paper? Am I crazy or just a typical writer?

I decided to ask my fellow authors if they too had unpublished manuscripts languishing on a closet shelf, in an under-the-bed storage box, or in the back of a file cabinet drawer. Their entertaining answers are often insightful and created the content for this special report.

Popular Misconceptions

Now, if you're not a professional writer - or if you're a novice writer - you may think the publishing business is very simple. You write a story, the publisher buys it, the book comes out, and you repeat the process until you retire rich or croak. Whichever comes first.

Au contraire, mon ami!

Rarely does a writer sell that first manuscript. Most people write many manuscripts before they ever sell. Even after writers get published, they still get rejected.

What do authors do with a manuscript on which they have slaved - sometimes for weeks, sometimes for years - when that manuscript just doesn't sell?

Today, Jenna Black, Jim C. Hines, and Jannine Corti Petska tackle the questions I asked.

Jenna Black

Jenna is the author of The Devil's Due, coming November 25 of this year from Dell Spectra.

How many manuscripts do you have that didn't sell?

I have 16 unsold, full-length novel manuscripts. (And don't even talk to me about all the short stories!!)

Do you have them as a saved file? a hard copy ms.? or both?

I have saved files, and hard copies for most, if not all of them.

If hard copy, where do you store them?

They seem to pop up in the strangest places. They're in my file cabinet, in my closet, in my storage room/attic. (The latter I think are ones I never unpacked when we moved into my current house.) I'd probably have to tear the house apart to find a particular one I wanted, but it's not that hard for me to stumble on one by accident.

So I'd say that's a big no, you're not the only obsessive person who saves all this crap. LOL

Jim C. Hines

Jim is the author of Goblin War from Five Star.

How many manuscripts do you have that didn't sell?


Do you have them as a saved file? a hard copy ms.? or both?


If hard copy, where do you store them?

They're in an old milk crate in the office. Though at least one of them should probably be moved, preferably tossed into a bottomless pit where none shall ever look upon it again...

Jannine Corti Petska

Jannine is the author of Knight's Desire. Her Rebel Heart was a 2007 Aspen Gold Finalist.

I love polls. LOL.

How many manuscripts do you have that didn't sell?

I have about 15.

Do you have them as a saved file? a hard copy ms.? or both?

They were saved on disks, but when I bought a new computer several years ago, I went from using WP6 to MSWord, and they weren't compatible at all. So I am typing them into the computer as I rewrite them and submit.

If hard copy, where do you store them?

My hard copies are in two places. The originals are on shelves in my office, and a copy of each is at the other side of the house in my bedroom closet.

Thanks, Jenna, Jim, and Jannine. (How alliterative!)

Please visit Sling Words tomorrow to hear what Dale Thompson, Mardi Ballou, and Donna Maloy have to say.

Takeaway Truth

Authors seem to hang on to their hard copies. Perhaps we do this because it's tangible evidence that our time wasn't wasted. We created something that wasn't there before, something that started with an electrical impulse in our brain. Even though the manuscript didn't find a publishing home, we have proof with that pile of paper that our time was well used.

1 comment:


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