Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Tips for Presenting Your Best Work as a Writer

by Cindy Sproles @CindyDevoted

There is no perfect work. Regardless of the number of eyes on a manuscript, someone will miss something. For example, my first novel went through edits, and three – count them – three proofers. and still, a conferee came up to me at a conference where my editor and I were talking and pointed out that my one-armed man was clapping his hands. 

Though we got a big laugh out of the mistake, it was still frustrating knowing we’d worked so hard to catch all the little details. Begin right now, to give yourself and your editors grace. There is no perfect manuscript.

Just because there is no perfect manuscript, doesn’t mean we don’t do our best work to the very best of our abilities. This means setting a personal work ethic that offers you guidelines for daily work and presentation when the time arrives.

Work ethic entails so many variables and only you can decide where you draw the line on how you present your work. From here forward, I am going to share my personal work ethics because it’s more than getting up each day to write. Our work ethic includes quality, honesty, integrity, and presentation. 

Everybody is different and the thought process is equally as different but despite those, each writer must lay out a personal code of ethics that they abide by. 

Here are some suggestions to help you layout and stick to a work ethic that will help your writing career soar.

Present your best work: Because I am a bit anal retentive about things, I lean toward taking extra measures to be sure my presentation of work to publishers is the best it can be. Again, everyone is different but my thought process is this – when I present the cleanest work I can to a publisher, they read through and smile. They remember the effort that went into handing over a clean, well-done manuscript and they note that the work on their end is cut significantly on editing and proofing. This translates into time and money saved. 

Does it always secure a new contract? No, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. Part of the process involved in a publication board’s decision to contract is the time factor. If they contract a work that its content may be really good but it needs a lot of edits, it certainly adds up to manhours and money. My practice is to personally hire a content editor to go behind me after my manuscript is complete. Yes, it costs me money but it is an investment that brings good payback. Editors look at my work and take a sigh of relief because they recognize an extra step has gone into presenting a clean manuscript. 

Not only does this help in the editing process but for me personally, it establishes a good reputation that hopefully will follow me. There is something to be said for work well-presented. There is a cost involved but again, I look at the cost as an investment into my career. You may not see a need to take this step, and again, it’s all in your personal work ethic, but I can assure you, it’s a step that has never taken me down the wrong path.

Meet deadlines: I love it when I contract an author whose work, that isn’t due for several months, ends up on my desk weeks early. This shows me I’m working with an author who cares about their work and who honors my time and the time of my editors. There will be times when life hits with illness or loss and publishers are very willing to work with authors during these times, but for the author who just puts off doing the work, then asks for continual extensions – the fuse is short. Here’s why. When an author asks for an unnecessary extension, it not only affects their editor’s timeline of the books’ publication, the entire work line is hit. 

Editors are generally working on more than one book at a time. Their days are planned out for which book to work on. Proofers are assigned and expect work on a certain day. Marketing is set to start on a particular day. When a deadline is missed, everyone’s schedule is thrown out of wack. You wonder why publishing is a slow industry; this is why. Several groups are working all at the same time, each with different deadlines but all heading toward the final goal of a release date. Procrastinators make life hard for everyone. Make it a goal to meet your deadlines on time or early. Do your best to avoid being a last-minute doer because this WILL affect whether or not you receive a future contract. Remember that reputation we mentioned earlier? How do you want to be perceived?

Be a person of your word: There is little to add here. If you say it, do it. Integrity is valuable and vitally important. When you do what you say, it speaks volumes about your dependability, honesty, and determination to produce good work. Be a person of your word. It carries as much weight in the industry as a clean manuscript.

Be a team player: When you are a team player, everyone’s work is easier. If an editor knows you have a willing and teachable heart, they do not fear coming to you to make last minute changes that will make your work shine. Marketing will work twice as hard with a team player because they know the work will be done and the rewards will come. Writers want a reputation that speaks to a willingness and emulates a desire for quality work.

Your work ethic is vital. If you haven’t done so, even as a new writer, draw up a list of work ethics you’d like to adhere to. It’s never too late to begin to build the habits and reputation that will bring you great success.


Cindy K. Sproles is an author, speaker, and conference teacher. She is the cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries and the executive editor for
christiandevotions.us and inspireafire.com. Cindy is the lead managing editor for SonRise Devotionals and also Straight Street Books, both imprints of LPC/Iron Stream Media Publications. She is a mentor with Write Right and the director of the Asheville Chrisitan Writers Conference held each February at the Billy Graham Training Center, the Cove, Asheville, NC. Cindy is a best selling, award winning novelist. Visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com.


  1. Cindy, I was fortunate to have begun writing for newspapers, where it's either meet the deadline or leave. That has helped me through the years to pay attention to turning work in on time. Thanks for your reminders.

  2. Work ethic is vital, whether you are being paid for the writing or not. Always put God first and the work ethic will align.

  3. Cindy, as a writer and Christian these values should be engrained in our heart. When I was a soldier, officer, and commander these things were just as important.

    Character matters no matter what you do. Imagine if I had been late to the war-room, missed the mission, and moved at my own pace maybe, just maybe, we could have won the battle. Just food for thought.

    Thanks for a good reminder. Blessings, Chris

  4. First... thank you for your service. Without folks like you we would be in a world of hurt. And thank you for letting others know about the importance of this.

  5. Very well said. I learned a lot from your classes at FCWC 2020.

  6. Excellent post, Cindy. I always set my deadline at least one week earlier than the publisher's deadline. That way, it gives me a little cushion should something unexpected arise. If I don't need the extra week, I turn it in early and my editor is thrilled.

  7. This is such a helpful post, Cindy. Everything should be applied not only in writing but also in our every day life. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Thanks for another excellent post and helpful word.