Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Love/Hate Wednesday



You know, just in case it like, wasn't obvious. I also decided that there is an alarming lack of lolcats on my blog which needed to be remedied immediately.

And by the way, stripey cats are my favorite.

my stripey cat


Having to reject awesome premises that don't hold up in execution.

My intern asked me the other day how often I read something that sounds really great, but just isn't quite there in the writing. The answer is: A LOT.

So don't f up. Don't rush a fabulous premise - but also don't be afraid to take the bits that people love...and write a new story!! Starting over can also be the best thing for your book.

I know I just had my post on revisionitis, so I'm not trying to make your head spin now by saying "Get it out there! But don't rush! Go! Stop!" I gave my ideas on problematic revising behavior below, but you should definitely still always go over it several times and get feedback before sending it out there!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Bad Case of Revisionitis

I'm all for polishing the heck out of your manuscript. The perfect-first-draft-writing author is as rare as a non-cute sloth (no? Have you SEEN this book??).

But when is enough enough?

I hear this question a lot: how do I know when my manuscript is ready for submission? Or, I sit across from a writer at a conference who tells me he/she has been working on his/her novel...for three years.

It's hard to put a definitive time frame on revisions; some masterpieces DO take years to write! But, at some do have to start getting it out there into the world, because you won't learn half as much from a revision as you will from writing a new book.

Starting something new isn't giving up. It's unlikely you're going to forget about that old manuscript - you can always go back later and give it a face-lift! But why spend time going over and over one when you could be out the door faster with another?

Which brings us back to the question: when IS enough enough?

While I can't tell you for sure, here are a few guidelines:

1. You've been revising the manuscript for over two years, sending it back and forth to the same people over and over again who keep suggesting things to tweak

  • Red flag! You may be too close to the manuscript. Sure, you could send it to some fresh eyes, but the best thing to do is likely going to be starting a new book and coming back to this one later.

2. You've been out on submission/shopping the same manuscript for several years in a row with no takers. Maybe some great critiques and R&Rs, but no bites.

  • Red flag! It could really just not be working. Maybe the hook isn't good enough, or the timing is all wrong for the genre. Whatever the reason...don't just keep on tweaking the SAME manuscript to send back out there. Start something new and come back to that one later if you love it!

3. You've been alternating pulling out several old manuscripts which you run through again and re-submit

  • Red flag!  You have to be career-smart; even if you get a contract for a have to keep writing to make a career out of it! So regardless of whether or not you love a're going to HAVE to keep writing and love another! You can't fall back on the same book or books for an entire career.

4. You've been sending the manuscript around to critique partners and friends for fresh reads for months now, and each time, they have something new and different to fix

  • Red flag! Writing is subjective. There's always going to be ONE THING you would or could have done differently in a manuscript. But part of your craft as a writer is figuring out what the BEST vision is for the manuscript. You don't have to please or listen to everyone.

You may have noticed that I made a point here not to say "give up on the manuscript." That's because it is still possible for an older manuscript to sell. But you're doing your career a disservice to only focus on one work over and over again; even if you do come back to a manuscript, keep writing and growing.

Of course, when you do start something new, do pay attention to the edits you received from your last book.

I can tell you, as an editorial agent, if I take on a client with potential who needs some work, I'm willing to put in the effort to revise the heck out of your manuscript...but after three books in, if that client is still at the same level, I'm going to get tired. I want to see you learning from edits and growing as a writer.

I'm not saying one more book in you'll be Pulitzer-Prize-winning level. But the more you write, the more you cure your revisionitis and get to brainstorming!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Love/Hate Wednesday


Pay-it-forward marketing

Check out this awesome series by author Jonathan Auxier for an example of this (especially this one on surviving no-shows at a book event). It doesn't have to be this in-depth or focused at writers, either; think of ways you can help your readers, too (what would be interesting to THEM?) or help a fellow author with promotion!

Pay-it-forward marketing drives a heck of a lot more traffic and interest than constant selfie marketing.


When my clients sign up for editor critiques or pitches at conferences

This really could vary by agent, but personally, I advise my clients not to sign up for these (read: CLIENTS. Not speaking here to unagented authors). I can submit to editors any time - and honestly, it's tough to beat a first impression. Yes, sometimes an editor will be intrigued by opening pages of a manuscript, but that's my job when I pitch - to get an editor salivating to read! Particularly with a critique, an editor is going in with the express intention of finding something to critique. Why add that negative impression as the first?

I would SO much rather send a polished version for consideration, not just because of first impressions, but also because it's also possible that something an editor has already seen, even if they're interested, will sit longer on the desk for consideration. They know what to expect; the element of mystery and surprise is gone.

It also puts me in an awkward situation of having to send to that editor to consider if he/she said "sure, send it to me!", even if I think a different editor at that house would be a better fit.

There's plenty an agented or published author can do at a conference besides pitch - learn, network, teach - far more valuable and relevant to that stage of his/her career!