Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Query Question: chapters pubbed before querying

I read your blog every day, and I have also gone through posts in the archive. Still, I could not find the answer to a question that has been bugging me for a while.

Suppose I have a novel (draft version) and my chapters are stand alone.

Suppose I submit the first chapter, which is polished, to journals accepting unsolicited submissions for fiction. Of course, I would mention it is a novel excerpt.

Suppose it gets published. My question is: in the future, when I will be querying agents, having one chapter out there, published, will be seen as pro or con?

It's seen as a pro. This is called a "publishing credit."  It's a Good Thing indeed. And you don't need to mention it's part of a novel in your submission to lit journals.

The reason it's a good thing is that someone else has seen your work, and liked it.  That tells me that you can string sentences together nicely, or at least have been able to do so in the past. That's reassuring when you're reading queries.

And for all you crazed rodent-wheel running authors out there: NO you do not NEED publishing credits in a query. It's worse to list idiotic ones (I won honorable mention in the XYZ writing contest!) than to list nothing at all.


Anonymous said...

The shark is right...you don't need publishing credits, but why on earth wouldn't you want them? I think every aspiring author should spend a couple of months out of their lives trying to get some short stories published. Because, if you can't get a short story published in a lit journal, the chances of getting a book published are pretty low......

french sojourn said...

Christopher to echo your thoughts.

I have two m/s out being reviewed and edited right now, so I thought the same thing. Work on some interesting short stories. I've got three out making the rounds to sci-fi magazines.
Knowing how long the process is, it makes absolute sense to get some publishing credits.

This coming from someone usually standing behind the horse, which is standing dead smack behind the cart.

Such a timely post as usual.

Cheers, Hank.


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Hey Hank I have 53 publishing credits (in) my book and it has me smack dab behind the horse, with a shovel, while filling the cart; an endeavor I am aptly qualified to perform.

Julia said...

OK, so, thanks QOTKU AGAIN ... for putting up a blog post in which I can, in good conscience, post this question without seeming like... well, like ME.

(avoiding putting in a long anecdote... everyone breathe a long sigh of relief...)

But if I have excerpts out there that are Google-able but NOT Pub-Credited, (i.e., Blog posts from that "long bygone" era (last week) when I had excerpts up from drafted work on my blog) - am I... um... Well.

Is my ship sinking?
Am I fried?
Am I scr*wed?
Am I in hot water?
Am I in deep water?
Am I in over my head?
Am I toast?
Am I cooked?
Stick a fork in me, because I'm done?

Otherwise pack-up-and-go-home-because-you-shot-yourself-in-both-feet-knees-thighs-hips-and-we-won't-take-this-any-further-because-you-aren't-reading-any-more'd?


Colin Smith said...

The difference between necessary and helpful is important.

Is having pub-cred helpful? Yes.
Is having a referral helpful? Yes.
Is having a literary agent for a spouse helpful? Yes... probably.

I imagine all of the above may get your manuscript before an agent, and even get you full requests quicker than if they are not there.

But can you get full requests without them? Yes, as long as the book's good enough. Because even with the above "help" if your book sucks, you're back to square one. At least that's my understanding of how it works.

Anonymous said...

Hey Julia, I don't think putting excerpts out on your blog are a problem. I've seen this done for lots of books - for instance to hype the interest.

On another note, I can commiserate with you on your beta situation. About a year ago, I sent my WIP to a new critique partner, when it was about 100 pages long - in baby terms, first trimester. Haha.

Anyway..., the point being, she wrote out twenty pages about her frustration with my writing. How she was frustrated b/c she KNEW I could write, so why was I doing...this, that, and the other. I was crushed. I wanted her to say it was brilliant. I wished I'd waited to react to that feedback but I was so...IDK, weirded out about it that I told her I felt like I'd been socked in the mouth and kicked in the pants. And, like your beta, I knew she was right. DAMN it.

And then I thanked her, and worked to make it better. And it is better. Not great, but A LOT better. And the fact that you know your beta is right is good. And she's good for telling you the truth.

So, haul the laptop in from the ledge. Yourself too, and...do the only thing you can - fix it.

I love the QOTKU's last sentence. Cause, yeah, I could have stopped my wheel long enough to have gone there. Phew!

Kate Larkindale said...

Before I started querying my first novel, I spent a year sending stories to lit journals and other publications. It taught me a lot about rejection and thickened up my skin so when my dreary, awful novel started racking up rejections, I was far better able to deal with them.

If you end up with some publishing credits as well, that's great too!

Amy Schaefer said...

I can understand using pub credits if they are relevant to the book you are shopping to agents - the short story credits Christopher Meades and french sojourn mentioned, for example. But I am tempted to leave out my credits altogether. I write essays for sailing magazines, which doesn´t have much to do with speculative fiction. Yes, they are real writing credits and I work with different editors and all, but does it help me to bring it up? Or is it just query clutter?

What do you think, chums-at-large? As I polish my query, this is weighing on me.

Colin Smith said...

@Amy: I think Janet has said before that pub credits ought to be relevant. If you're querying fiction and your day job is writing non-fiction articles, then the pub credit may not count... UNLESS your speculative fiction has to do with sailing.

french sojourn said...

Amy, all of us regulars...and not so regulars are familiar with your writing ( and contest winning).

I would imagine the fact that you are published in a specialty publication would fair well as a credit.

If you can write, you can write.

It's like the age old question...book or Kindle...does it matter as long as you can appreciate the written word.

Carolynnwith2n's you crack me up!
Donna never change, and Colin love reading your stuff.

Amy Schaefer said...

Aww, thanks french sojourn. You can write me a blurb any time!

But I´m still waffling. Relevant or clutter, relevant or clutter...

I think I´ll go back to worrying about how to get into town to replace the bicycle tire my daughter destroyed yesterday (without the use of said bicycle).

Anonymous said...

@Amy, it would be hard not to mention it...IMHO. Even if irrelevant. Maybe as an aside, you can somehow word the query (at the bottom) to say, I am a regularly featured author for "CAST AWAY Mag" and although the material is irrelevant to the ms I am pitching, I feel I should mention this.

Simple, straight forward.

Now, Ms shark might take a chomp out of my rear and tell me to go to the back of the class. I somehow recall a post of this nature a while back, and for the life of me, how she finds all her stuff in that massive archive is beyond me.

Kitty said...

"Query clutter" ... I like that expression. Good one, Amy!

Anonymous said...

Before I drop off for the night...
Hank, I remember seeing your comments when I first started reading Ms. Sharkle's blog here, and you intimidated me. :)

Grateful for all the blog friendships here. (no, I'm not drinking - but I'm about to be!)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Hey Donna, and the rest of you guys, Janet too, it's nice bouncing off all of you. We're alone with our thoughts so much it's nice to know that other people go through synapse overload once in a while too. Okay, enough Kumbaya, I'm back behind Hank's horse.

Colin Smith said...

Awww, thanks, Hank! :) And thanks for the reminder... Amy--just mention in your query that you're a Janet Reid Writing Contest Winner. What other publishing credit do you need? QOTKU has officially declared you Awesome. :D

Amy Schaefer said...

Well, I was planning to watermark my queries with the shark sigil engraved in the Official JRWC Winner´s Ring I received along with my prize books. Or I could just include a photo of myself wearing my Official JRWC top hat, velvet smoking jacket and monocle.

What do you think? Too subtle?

french sojourn said...

Amy, I would do that if you were querying Steampunk. (grin)

Would love to get Terri's take on this.

Carolynn, I have publishing envy for your 53...I don't think my 2 or 3 published stories back in the 80's ( 1980's thank you) for a certain men's entertainment magazine would help my cause? (poor taste as usual)

Cheers Hank

Liz Mallory said...

Thank you so much for that last paragraph - I was seriously about to go looking up fiction journals...