From The INTERN, who as always has written an entertaining post that is also potentially useful.
You should of course click over and read the whole thing, but here are the five cues that to The INTERN’s signal approaching success:
1) You’ve been at it for a while
2) You have a good grasp of your book’s potential issues
3) You are willing to make dramatic changes to your ms
4) You value improvement for itself, and
5) You are friendly and professional.
The INTERN does think that number five there may just be a fluke of sampling, but hey, it can’t hurt!
The one that seriously rang a bell for me was #2. I immediately thought of the time I sent a loooong ms to my brother and said plaintively, There’s something wrong with it structurally, but I can’t figure out what.
(And he suggested cutting the entire middle section, which I immediately saw was the right thing to do. This then forced me to change stuff later on, and it was all just The Neverending Revision From Hell, which certainly takes us to #3 in the above list.)
As for #1, if you’re curious, no CITY IN THE LAKE wasn’t my first book. It was just the first for which I seriously pursued publication. I had a completed fantasy trilogy and an overlong SF novel “under my bed” by that point. I suspect that The INTERN is right and that the first item on her list is the key. But they all look good to me.