Banner for Justice Unending, showing the title, the author (Elizabeth Spencer), and the book cover.

My book, Justice Unending, is being published in just over a week! Woo! You can read more about the book in this earlier post. Otherwise, it’s just one week and one day until November 4!

This week, I’ve been posting about the writing and submissions process, and all the writerly things I learned on the way.

I’ve already published about how I found a small press and what it was like to do edits with a publisher. Today, I’m talking about the writing resources that saved my butt.

Self-Editing Techniques

Although I’ve found a lot of books I love since then, I wrote Justice with the help of Donald Maass’s The Fire In Fiction.

The Fire in Fiction has you take a completed first draft and systematically ramp up impact of your dialogue, tension, worldbuilding, characterization, and a zillion other little things. Super useful.

Beta Readers

The Absolute Write Forums: Beta Readers, Mentors, and Writing Buddies. All the way. Justice was read by a lot of people at different points in its life, but I got the most helpful beta readers on Absolute Write.

For the best results, offer to do a manuscript trade. You’ll end up with a lot of reading to do, but you’ll get more engaged and motivated readers!

Queries and Synopses

Whether you’re querying agents or publishers, you’ve got to have a good query and one-page synopsis. Here’s where I went to hone the ones I used for Justice Unending:

  • Absolute Write’s Query Letter Hell: Located in the “Share Your Work” forum, Query Letter Hell is where you go if you want to see your query reduced to a pile of ashes so it can be reborn as an illustrious phoenix. Prepare for walls of “These stakes are terrible!!” and “I misunderstood [everything you wrote]!” as you gradually massage your query into something that people actually find compelling. Just remember that you have to have 50 posts on the forums before you can post here–so spend some time getting comfortable with the community before you start asking for reviews.
  • Writing the Fiction Synopsis by Pam McCucheon: While this book was originally released in the 90s (and it shows) it’s still my favorite one on synopsis writing. You fill out a bunch of worksheets, identify the critical junctures in your story, and then combine them into a synopsis. It’s lovely.
  • QueryTracker.net: My absolute favorite way to find agents and track my queries. It’s the #1 way to spend every second of your life pouring through real-time agent response times and obsessing over whether it means “you’re under consideration” or not.

Contests

I’m not the biggest fan of contests, but Pitch Wars really motivated me to improve my manuscript. Better yet, it helped me connect with some awesome authors on Twitter.

Finding a Small or Medium Press

You can read more about this adventure in the post I wrote last week!

Phew! These are just a few of the resources that helped me write Justice Unending. It was an absolute labor of love, and was influenced by a ton of books, websites, and a cadre of supporting and helpful fans, readers, and supportive friends. But these are the ones that really saved my butt and helped me out the most.

And that’s that! And because next week is launch week this will probably be my last post on how I wrote this thing. (But if anyone has any questions, hey, just ask. I always need something to post about.) Instead, next week’s going to be about… well, you know. The book. Which is coming out. Next Friday.

See you then!

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