Friday, July 31, 2009

Some Third-Hand Advice from the Pros

If you take a few minutes and look here, you'll find some excellent advice about queries and first pages gleaned from the Agent/Author Day at the Backspace Writers' Conference. It's recommended reading.

What I couldn't help noticing is that a lot of writers who are querying agents don't have a firm grasp of basics. Do not be one of those writers. Do your homework. Learn about your genre, learn to write well, and stretch your imagination when you write your book.

And, yes, this post is mostly filler. It's Friday, and nobody reads blogs on Fridays, as I pointed out last week. I was going to write about how some people I know are upset that I don't take to heart their advice the way I do that of publishing industry professionals (like my agent), and how it's likely a good idea to be a bit secretive about the publishing process once it's underway. My best friend Mighty Reader works in publishing, and last week she received a snarky note from one of her author's mothers, sent along by the author. The author is an adult, and the author's mother (even if she is, as she claims, a retired editor) needs to step off. Publishing is a business. Act in a businesslike manner if you want to make this your career. If you're getting paid by a publisher, then being a writer is your job, even if it's not your full-time job. Do you bring your friends and family to the office to argue with the people who sign your paychecks? No? I didn't think so. Anyway, I was going to write about this but as it's Friday and nobody reads blogs on Fridays, I'll just skip it. Have a swell weekend, all.


  1. Oh, well ... Friday is the day I choose to catch up with everything I haven't read. I must be an odd exception. ;)

    Thanks for the link. It's bookmarked.

  2. I'm out here reading, too. Thanks for the link. I think an important tip I picked up at an event with agents this year was not to query before the work was not only finished but polished. Sometimes writers get too eager, especially since the process takes so long, but one agent said if he likes the partial and asks for the full and you haven't got it ready, he's moving on.

  3. Fridays are my best day for reading blogs, too!

    Guess I'm just a nobody who reads Friday blogs.....*sigh*.

    About the advice of others...well, I think the problem lies with the nature of the advice given. Sometimes, with the best intentions, of course, advice is given from someone who *thinks* they know what they are talking about, but has much less of a grasp than the author on what the author's intent was when writing the piece. (Sorry, could that sentence BE more confusing?)

    What I am trying to say, but HG Wells said it better, "No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft."


  4. I read blogs on Fridays. I read them everyday, but I'm a blogoholic, so that's a given.

    I agree that many people querying don't do their research. I can't imagine how frustrating it is to those agents and publishers out there.

    I like storyqueen's comment. So true!

  5. I read blogs randomly so... Friday is good. :) Either way, you gave me a good laugh. Thanks for the link! Happy weekend!

  6. Shelley: The big conflict at my house is how Mighty Reader (who is, as I say, a publishing professional) resists the idea that my book can be improved. It usually goes something like this...

    Me: I'm going to revise the first couple of chapters. My agent said something that sparked a really good idea that I'm going to run with.

    MR: What are you going to change?

    Me: Don't worry about it. It'll be much better when I'm done.

    MR: It's good now. I don't see any reason why you should mess with it.

    Me: I'm not 'messing' with it; I'm improving it.

    MR: Huh. (rolls eyes) Do I get to see what your agent said?

    Me: No, you don't.

    MR: Why not?

    Me: You're just going to argue with me about what he said. That's not a conversation I'm willing to have. You just have to trust me.

    MR: Huh.

    While I appreciate Mighty Reader's protective, possibly maternal feelings about my work, it's really not so helpful to bring your early readers and friends along for the ride once you have an agent or a publisher. There's a line they can't cross with you, and there are all sorts of emotional issues around this. Be prepared.

  7. Filler Fridays, Bailey? Is this where you have decided to take the Literary Lab?

    That conversation you have between yourself and Mighty Reader is eerily familiar. Although, I don't have an agent, so it's more me saying I could improve the book versus others saying I should put it down and move on. My current approach is to submit queries and provide full manuscripts when they are requested while still allowing myself to make changes during the wait. After all, it's my book, and I can do whatever I want with it.

  8. Davin: Okay, fine, I'll admit it: I got to work this morning and realized it was my day to write a post. And I had nothing except the link to the Backspace blog and a vague feeling that people don't so much read this blog on Fridays. So I went with that. I followed my muse. Don't try to hem my creativity in like that, Malasarn. I'm an Artist, do ye hear?

    Also, I used a "Buffy" reference, so I should get points for that.

  9. Taking your job seriously and being professional isn't filler. I think it's good advice. On the other hand from what I read on the agent's blog's, people need to be reminded of the basics.

  10. How did I miss the Buffy reference??? OH, this is mostly filler. I guess I need firetrucks and flashing lights.

  11. Thanks for the link! (It's Friday at 5:10 PM. What am I doing reading blogs? LOL)

    Lynnette Labelle

  12. "There's a line they can't cross with you, and there are all sorts of emotional issues around this. Be prepared."

    I wasn't prepared with my first novel. This time around I will be.


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