Of all the possible sins that the hopeful writer can commit The Big But is the worst You cannot make excuses for your writing and hope to succeed

If someone who knows the industry tells you that your manuscript isn't right for Knopf and you need to submit to other markets, don't say, "But I only want it to be published by Knopf."

If a pro tells you that your plot is hackneyed and your characters are thin, "But I intended it to be that way . . ." is decidedly the wrong answer.

If an editor tells you that you're going to have to give the story a real ending, "But I want to leave the reader in suspense . . ." is going to get you round-filed and lose you a big opportunity.

Here are some of the amazing excuses I've heard. "But the editor can clean up the spelling and the grammar."

"But I don't want to write a second book until the first one sells."

"But the first book is the start of a twelve-book series - the editor has to buy that one first." (Not necessarily. The editor can buy someone else's book. If it isn't selling anywhere, write something different. Something that stands alone, maybe.)

"But if there isn't sex in every chapter, no one will read the damned thing."

"But I want it to be hard to read - I want to sell my books to intelligent readers."

"But it doesn't need to have a plot - it's literary." (This may, in fact, be true - but since the book hadn't sold, I'm willing to bet that in at least this instance, even the editor of literary books would have welcomed a story that seemed to be going somewhere.)

"But I'm a published writer now; I shouldn't have to revise." (I didn't understand this one either, but I add it for your edification. The writer had sold one book many years earlier and had failed to sell anything else.)

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