Thursday, December 03, 2015

Pages requested at a conference: how long do I have to send?

A few weeks ago, I was at a writers conference and I pitched to two agents. They both said: sounds interesting, send us the first x number of pages. Which is great - except for one thing.

I've finished a couple of drafts of my novel, but I'm still polishing it. I wouldn't normally have pitched without having it perfect, but I was in the US on holiday and pitched on the off chance because it seemed like a good opportunity to get in front of people.

So here's my dilemma. Do I send the requested pages now, and half-hope they don't get round to reading them until I've finished editing? (Presuming, of course, that they'd want to see more.) Or, do I wait until I'm done, and send the sample then?

I realise these agents probably aren't sitting at their desk thinking: 'where is that nice New Zealand woman's sample?' But I don't want to lose the small impression I may have made either. I'm probably only about one or two months off finishing the whole thing. What's the normal/acceptable time limit for sending off requested pages after a pitch?

(I'm not usually this much of an idiot btw. And I realise that I should have said something in the pitch, but quite frankly I was lucky to remember my name, I was that nervous**.)


Always always always send your best work.
If that means you send an email to the requesting agents, saying pretty much what you said here (I'm still polishing), before you send the pages, then you do that.

You've got ONE shot at an agent's eyeballs with this manuscript. It's better to take the time to polish than send it too soon.

From my perspective, I'd rather wait and then see something I can sell than read something that ISN'T publishable.

I've seen a LOT of novels that were probably one or two revisions away from publishable. I said no to them because I just didn't have time to work with the author on revisions.

How long do you have to get this done? Well, less than a year.  Ideally within a month. But, it takes as long as it takes.

I need books to sell, not manuscripts to reject.

**do I get to jump up and down and wave my arms around about the evil that is pitching again? 


french sojourn said...

Hi; my names Hank. I am a member of the queried before I had even any reason to. (Q-BI-HEART)The 10 step program involves;

1: Finish m/s.
2: Beta Readers a go-go.
3: Incorporate refinements.
4: Re-beta-a-go-go.
5: Re-incorporate.
6: Editor-r-us.
7: Adjust accordingly
8: Wait a few weeks. (Age it)
9: Re-read and finalize.
10:Query like crazy.

lather and repeat as necessary.

Unknown said...

I love weeks where Janet talks about querying and pitching. It always makes me feel down when I'm not pitching, but pep talks like this make me happy that I'm focused on polishing.

Now back to working (lurking).

Susan Bonifant said...

I just played "Guess what Janet will say" and won. Yay!

Also, Brian, ditto.

DLM said...

Hi, Brian!

"I need books to sell, not manuscripts to reject."

OSUM. That's a header, right there.

Hank - I love how finishing the manuscript is step one. It makes that part seem so easy.

Then again, so does querying.

nightsmusic said...

I had a query session where the agent donated their time to five out of how ever many submitted at a conference, to go over the query and first five pages with the author. What worked, what didn't, good, bad, ugly and how to work on correcting those things. It was a great opportunity and I was the only one she asked for the first fifty after I'd revised it, but life intervened and I didn't send it. That was well over a year ago so my chance is gone. All that to say, if you have that opportunity, don't squander it! Polish. Send! You just never know.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Ditto, Brian and Susan. I wish I had polished way more before pitching. I am letting my newest query really percolate before sending out. As well as my last set of revisions. I wish I could get an actual editor, agent to look at the new query first before alienating any more of them.

My writer group and beta readers are way too enthusiastic about my stuff, and they look at it through a reader's eyes, not an agent/editor's eyes. They already love the book.

I need a query that will make more agents actually read the book, not go "ugh! Another fantasy writer! " Toss. Kind of having one of my insecure fits because of those darn Norman (Thanks for that term, Colin) agents - stifling silence.

Evil big meanie voice in my head keeps whispering, "All the good agents will be taken before you get your proverbial act together :( And you will be an orphaned writer. Nobody likes you. Go back under your rock and stay there."

DeadSpiderEye said...

You know what would be really really interesting? Get an insight into the causes that prompt this statement: I've seen a lot of novels that were probably one or two revisions away from publishable.

Colin Smith said...

Susan: You play that too? Cool! Janet should do that every now and again--post the question, let the peanut gallery try to anticipate her response, then later in the day post her response. It would be like a pop quiz to see how much we're learning here at QOTKU Academy.

I was almost correct. I got that the agent wants to see your best work, and that it's probably okay to delay sending something until it's ready. It crossed my mind that maybe Opie should tell the agent there will be a delay, but I wasn't 100% certain about that.

The idea that the agent might demand the finished manuscript within a certain time period could be the setup for a good thriller. That novel would be to writers what JAWS was for swimmers and surfers:

Kelly thought she was onto a good thing when dream agent Mark Miwurds requested a full at the Fuzzy Print Writing Conference. Little did she know that his stipulation to submit within the next two days was a binding verbal contract. Kelly's world falls apart when, 48 hours later, two heavies appear at her door demanding her polished manuscript or her soul. With no manuscript to offer, Kelly finds herself an unwitting pawn in Miwurds' plot to take over the publishing industry, and thus the hearts and minds of millions. Can Kelly break free before she is broken?

NO WORDS is a 100,000 word thriller. It can best be described as QueryShark meets THE GODFATHER.


Dena Pawling said...

Two years ago, a lady from my local RWA group received a request from a conference pitch. She asked me to go over her ms before she sent it.

It needed a LOT of work. When I sent the first chapter back to her with my comments [which she said helped improve her ms, yay], I included a line that I was new at this and therefore couldn't give her much advice on the editorial side of things. We have a freelancer in our local group, so this lady paid the freelancer to go over it also. I was glad because her story is awesome, but it definitely needed an editor.

This entire process of my comments on the entire ms, plus the editor's comments on the entire ms, plus the revisions, took more than a year, but she waited and sent the pages to that agent when they were polished.

Yes, send the agent your polished story.

On another note: I read the linked blog page with the rant. It includes the following line:

>>Essentially we're talking about IN PERSON CHUM BUCKET!! You all know how much I love doing the Chum Bucket--and writers love it too. Even the ones who get gnawed till they bleed.

Then I went back to today's post and checked the right side. There's Gossamer, still hovering above the line that emphatically states “Chum Bucket will resume in 2015.”

It's now DECEMBER THIRD [yikes]. Time to do one of two things:
1. Do ONE Chum Bucket in the next four weeks, to prove how much you love doing it and/or that you weren't snockered [much] when you wrote that line last year, OR
2. Sober up and/or check in with reality and change the year to 2016

Colin LOL! QueryShark meets THE GODFATHER!

Dervla McTiernan said...

Hi all,
Have been lurking for quite a while but enjoyed Colin's post so much I had to comment - very funny : ) I'd buy it.

DLM said...

Dena, Gossie is a patient lad, but you are right. :) Sobering up, however, may or may not be worthwhile at this time of year.

Colin, I want to read NO WORDS!

E.M., for all the ones we might miss out on - there are also new agents all the time ... I kept my eyes on those emerging agents lists for a while even after I knew it was time to give up on AX, and queried at least one I think. Humanity, the ultimate renewable resource.

BJ Muntain said...

nightsmusic: You know, once it's requested, it's requested. Sure, it's probably best to send it soon after - even a year after - it's requested, but that doesn't mean you can't send it later. Your chance isn't gone. It may be a bit stale, but there's nothing to say you still can't send the requested pages. She obviously thought your work was great then. What will it hurt to send the pages now? The worst she can do is reject your novel, which is the worst she could have done a year ago.

EM: There are always new agents, and many new agents are pretty good. It's not like it's one agent per author. Tell Evil big meanie voice to go to where the sun doesn't shine (on the Discworld, that's Splice, in Lancre.)

Colin: Laughing so hard right now. That's great.

Donnaeve said...

Within the replies to any OP's questions are gold nuggets.

Like this, "Always always always send your best work."

And the other ones mentioned already.

Recently, while working on The New Project, I had to be sure I had the first three chapters as good as I could get them. I worked on them for months.

Take what time you need to get it right. I like the idea of being able to contact the agents requesting the pages to let them know they are being polished. You're almost done - within a month or so. Email them, then finish polishing, and then send. It's perfect timing, really. Start the New Year off by sending out the requested samples while knowing they are as perfect as you can make them.

And then! When The Agent emails back and says "send more! I love it!" You can whip the entire thing right off to them knowing it's as good as the sample pages you sent. Wheeeeee! No pressure!

That's what I'd do.

Laura Mary said...

I hope it’s not wandering too far off topic to ask about people’s experience with beta readers – EM yours is a comment I see crop up often – they love it, trouble is they are looking through readers eyes.
Are your (the wider ‘you’ of the group!) beta readers a) all writers themselves b) all write within the same genre. This would seem like the ideal choice really, but maybe that makes it harder to be objective.
I have been thinking about who I could ask – I have a friend who is very literary minded, but not a writer (she’s a teacher) who reads crime and mysteries and probably hasn’t touched a YA book since I forced her to read Potter. My novel certainly wouldn’t be her usual read, but it would certainly get a good nitpicking.
Mind you, cart before horse – I’m still on Hank’s step 1!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi DLM, Susan, E.M., and the whole gang! :)

Sorry I've been away for so long! Colin, love the story. I too would read that!

I had one more thing to share based on the comments so I had to pop my head back in. A wonderful writerly friend of mine (who snagged an agent herself not too long ago and has her debut coming out on Sky Pony in 2016) answered a question that has plagued me about this editing stuff for a very long time.

Because, let's face it, a large number of people query too early. And a few people query too late. And frankly, if you're reading this blog, you've got a 50/50 shot of being either. So if you're like me, 15 revisions in and wondering why the hell you didn't plot better so you wouldn't need 15 revisions, let me share what this wonderful writer shared with me.

I asked the deadly question -- "When do you know its done?" And she answered "When none of your critique partners are telling you the same thing anymore."

Because all of us can spot a problem in someone elses book from a mile away. And we're all going to spot something. The real problems aren't the things we catch as readers, but the things every reader catches. When everyone is telling you that your main character is flat and uninteresting, or that a plane that crashes in the ocean cannot create a tidal wave chain reaction that destroys LA, we need to listen. When readers agree, we have a problem. When they all can't seem to find the same issue? We're probably a quick shine away from calling it done.

Makes sense, right?

Anyways, her name is Sarah Glenn Marsh and she's a smart person, and her words have made a big impact on my thought process.

Alright! Now back to work for real! :)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Laura Mary, I have a wide range of beta readers. Most are readers of my genre. Only a couple are writers themselves. These are different from the workshop I use which is all writers. In beta reader group, only one is a editor but for a software engineering magazine. That is a far cry from fiction editing. Several readers are teachers- my day job for past six years is contracting for a large school district. Feedback is useful but different from what an agent/ publisher might give. All of them now drive me insane over not being published yet. Ah well. Still, their enthusiasm has been encouraging.

BJ, Diane- thanks. I do know new agents crop up all the time. Have to remind myself to be patient as well as persistent. I don't know if it is a normal woodland creature thing but I go through these draining periods of self-doubt. I wish that would stop.

Colin, bless you. I laughed so hard and I needed that laugh. Thank you. You should totally write NO WORDS.

Laura Mary said...

Brian - *big shiny lightbulb of understanding appears* That is pure simple genius.

Maybe this biz isn't as hard as we all imagine - on the other hand, what if it was a really really *big* plane...

Anonymous said...

One of our crew got two enthusiastic requests from Idol on a novel that isn't finished. She told them it wasn't finished, but they wanted it anyway. They told her to take her time and finish it and polish, then send when it was ready.

I was one of those people who thought agents would take forever to read my query and sent out with the idea I'd have plenty of time to finish revising. I got several requests right away. One request for the full came within an hour of sending the query.

It's like trying to predict the winner of an armadillo race. The only sure bet is don't bet on the three-legged one.

Based on some professional advice, I made some changes to the manuscript that actually hurt it. A new beta reader commented on a problem, so I asked tried and true beta reader to look at it. Yup, totally off. Back to the drawing board.

In the meantime, I squandered several requests for fulls and partials. They might have passed anyway, but it certainly didn't help to have that glaring problem. Sometimes it's like watching a bad season of Hell's Kitchen. Just because they are a professional somewhere, doesn't always mean their advice is solid. You have to learn to trust your gut about your writing.

Just make sure you do finish revisions and send. As Laurie McLean said, a vast majority who get requests never send and it's truly a wasted opportunity.

Colin Smith said...

Laura: My First Reader is my wife. She's not a writer (though she's a witty storyteller), but she reads and enjoys mysteries, and knows me and my work well enough to tell me what she thinks is great and what sucks. And because she's my wife, I know she's telling me because she has my best interest at heart. My wife also has a very keen eye for typos and sentences that don't make sense. She can also point out places where I'm using Britishisms. In other words, she's an invaluable first filter.

After my wife has been through my work, I will then offer it up to beta readers. My beta readers tend to be writer friends. I like to have a mix of readers, some that write within the same genre, and at least one that doesn't. I don't always ask the same people to beta, though it would be nice to have at least one or two betas who know my past work. I tell my betas exactly what I'm asking them to do (e.g., give honest, constructive feedback, point out typos, indicate where something doesn't make sense, highlight plot holes, tell me where they fell asleep/laughed/cried/went to make a cup of tea/had to take the ms to the bathroom because they couldn't put it down, etc.). I don't normally ask my betas to do more than one reading, though some might offer to re-read after revisions.

I'll then take my beta's notes and suggestions, weigh them, make the necessary changes, then polish polish polish.

That's broadly my beta process. Hope that helps! :)

Karen McCoy said...

Exactly. Finish revisions, but absolutely don't feel rushed. Janet is right. Heck, I'm still polishing the manuscript that had agent interest two years ago when it was just an idea, and I'm still planning to query her when it's ready. If she remembers me, great. If not...I'll still query widely.

Remember that agent interest shows potential, and you'll likely make some headway with this manuscript. But if not, there are always others. Keep on, Opie!

Colin Smith said...

Brian: That's an excellent answer. Absolutely--where your readers all agree there's a problem, you need to address that problem. Where they differ, you need to weigh whether those are issues. If they don't agree at all on any issues, you're probably close to done.

BJ Muntain said...

Laura May:

While I usually consider beta readers to be non-writers, that's not always the case. A critique group is a group of writers who (ideally) write in the same genre or group of genres (science fiction and fantasy are usually grouped, thriller and mystery are often grouped), who can help you improve the writing of your novel.

I like to think that beta readers are simply readers - because, after all, readers are your target audience - but I find it more difficult to find non-writers to want to read an unpublished novel than it is to find writers. At least in my genre (science fiction). The problem with having writers as beta readers is that writers often read as 'how could this be improved', while I'd like to find someone who would simply read the novel and tell me what they like or don't like, like a normal reader.

I think of it like going for a car ride in the country. A writer can point out how to fix your engine and what tires will make the ride smoother, and will point out bumps and potholes to avoid. A reader can tell you what the scenery is like, and the points where a bump or pothole interrupted their enjoyment of the scenery.

Brian: THANK YOU. Because I've felt I've been at that point with a certain project for awhile now, and now I'm certain. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Captain! I've been wondering where you were. I thought about you the other day when I posted the youtube of the Asian otters. There was one in the back who kept standing up, looking around. I thought, there's the captain.

LynnRodz said...

*exclamation point alert*

OP, the important thing to remember is what Janet said, your MS only has one shot in front of an agent. Don't send it until it's ready, no matter how long it takes!

Hank, love your 10 step program!

Susan, I play that game too and won today!

Nightmusic, your "chance" is not gone! There's no reason not to send out those pages!

EM, stop listening to that "evil big meanie voice" in your head!

Colin, love the title!

Dena, you're asking (big time) to be shipped off Carkoon and over to the Slush Pile Slum where Colin and I reside!

Hi Maggie, welcome!

Diane, say hi to Gossie!

BJ, I agree!

Laura Mary, some people want Beta's who are writers and write in the same genre, some people prefer just the opposite.

Okay, like Brian, I have to stop hanging around here (hard not to) and get to work!

Laura Mary said...

Thank you everyone for your input - it has been incredibly insightful. I was imagining there was some sort of secret formula (two writers a teacher and a postman maybe?) but of course everyone will have their own preferences, that makes much more sense.

I plan on having my cat be my first reader. I shall judge her enjoyment by how long she sleeps on each page.

Right, that was my third and final comment, catch up with you tomorrow :-)

Donnaeve said...

Brian's friend is right.

When I decided to use Book Hive's Test Reader services for my hard crime novel, the report I received was very comprehensive in of itself. I was happy to know the creator of Book Hive analyzed all the data and you know what she provided? The top three areas Test Readers commented on as needing work. Consistency in feedback = a problem.

Anonymous said...

Bahaha! Julie, thank you for that! :) Made my day.

BJ: Get to querying! And hit me up on the twitter machine if you have it. :)

Colin: as usual, I babble - you summarize conscisely.

Laura Mary - so glad to hear it! :)

DLM said...

Laura Mary: precisely how Gossamer does it!

Ugh. Can I just go home and snoodle him right now? It's not a bad day at work. But it still lacks for a certain Editor Catness and Penelope Pupness. Those two are better even than a GOOD day at work.

Totally OT, especially as no painting will be involved, but a seriously major portion of my Christmas this year will occur tomorrow, when there will be a Big Party at my house, with a plumber, an electrician, a contractor shooting insulation at holes in the fascia, and a heating tech will all be at my house. There shall once again be a downstairs bath, there will be light outside the home again. Great things are afoot, and I am excited. I plan to do some decorating while they're all about their work, and Goss will plan for a good place to hide (a challenge indeed, with so many spaces occupied by so many contractors).

May each of you have as glorious a December, or better. You've been inspiring me on the work of late.

BJ Muntain said...

Brian: I am now following you on Twitter. Not sure why I wasn't already... And I have been querying. But after awhile, you start wondering if there isn't something really wrong - but if I can't get a consistent answer, then maybe the answer is that I just haven't found the right agent yet.

Thanks again. :)

Mark Ellis said...

Back in the Chum Bucket days, Janet wrote: "don't query unless you're ready to send a manuscript that minute." I've made this my rule of thumb for any query scenario.

Craig F said...

A few thoughts on:

Querying early
Every writer who wishes to be published queried too early at some point. The reason we are all here is because we realized our ignorance. Usually that realization came from querying too early.

On Polishing
It is very easy for a young writer too polish a manuscript too much. You can polish the paint off if you try too hard. In writing you do not want to polish the magic out of it.

On beta readers
Learn how to interrogate them. There are very few really good people who will do beta reading. There have probably been more at some time but they learned better. Most writers are not prepared to hear the truth about their manuscripts. That is what a lot of the people who would be good beta readers have already found out. Learn how to draw information from reticent beta readers without throwing things.

On cross genre beta readers
Who would be better? They will look at your work with a different perspective but that can't hurt and might make things better in the long run. The main reason I quit reading urban fantasies is because many of the writers of those get there protagonist into an untenable situation and use magic to get them out. A little of what makes a mystery work would add a lot to those scenes.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

the last Chum Bucket was I think on or around November 24 (I send in my query). I thought it was a little later, edging into 2015, but unless there was one after, it is not the case.

It blows my mind that people don't respond to requests for material. I don't have a copy on my phone to attach of the "submission packet", if only because I'm paranoid about stray autocorrect errors or what have you (I loathe my touch screen. I want BUTTONS PHYSICAL BUTTONS) but I'm folder-organized and ready to send things on their merry way once I hit my laptop again. Oh, those lucky people, whose full requests are so bountiful they may deign ignore them! Those happy wordsmiths! Those muse-kissed!

So far as beta readers go, I typically have at least two, both trusted friends, one of whom has been reading my material since college and has an English degree, has done editing work, etc. etc. More would be good, more would always be good, but that doesn't seem to be in the works at the moment. Well, it might be, after this most recent writing workshop at the library. But I'm not holding my breath.

(that's dangerous)

And I do sometimes read to Elka, who is a delightful audience. Though she gets more excited if you sing to her. I replace syllables in song words with "Dober" (So "Doberface", "Tiny Dober", etc.) because I am a fool for my dog.

Anonymous said...


I'd have to look at my notes again, but I think Laurie said 80% of the people she requests from don't submit. What is even more astounding about that is she's been closed except for referrals and conference requests for a long time.

At Idol, the majority of the stops were because the agents felt the story was starting in the wrong spot. A lot of people opened with description that went on with nothing happening.

The friend who got two requests in Idol on an unfinished story had description that set a sort of melancholy tone, but showed how much the POV character loved the desert. Toward the end of the first page a ship arrives and she knows she's being taken away from all she loves. It set the tone beautifully and was evocative writing. Then the hook, the woman is being losing what she loves.

Starting in the wrong place is deadly, but it's also an easy fix once you find the right doorway. I'm not sure about RAIN CROW. My mentor and ceo of the game company I write for thinks it's perfect. Some of my beta readers aren't so sure.

In COWGIRLS WANTED, I nailed the opening.

The friend who sent out three queries and got two offers of rep, wrote seven different openings before she arrived at the final one and she is one of those meticulous writers who doesn't move on until the sentence/passage is perfect.

Good openings seem to be a skill set all their own.

At Surrey, one blue pencil said this is gorgeous writing and went into why it worked and gave me some tips on writing historicals. Then he said he'd definitely like to read the book. Another author and editor read another section in a blue pencil and said it was lovely writing and said she'd keep reading. Next to me another author was telling someone else they had lovely writing, so I thought I guess everyone has lovely writing.

Over drinks the crew discussed the day's blue pencils and I expressed my thoughts. Others disagreed saying they had been given a lot of food for thought about revisions and heard similar comments from other sessions near them.

I have mixed emotions about pitch sessions. It's good to get your foot in the door with agents who might otherwise be closed. All agents said to put Surrey request in the subject line as they get priority attention.

On the other hand, chances are good they're going to learn something in a workshop or blue pencil that sends them into revise frenzy. Then too many people think they've taken too long and the agent won't be interested any more so never send.

Plus,I wonder how many agents are truly interested or just looking in hopeful woodland creature eyes and can't say no.

Oddly enough, the friend who had the two offers of rep from three queries got a no response from a pitch session and first 50 request. My theory is the word count scared the bejeebus out of them, but who knows?

One friend did wait too long on a request and the agent said no thanks when she asked if he was still interested in looking at it.

So, polish it up, but don't spend years doing it.

Anonymous said...

Well, criminy at the typos. Read the intent not the content.

John Frain said...

Couple of housekeeping tasks:

Colin, that was great stuff. Bram Stoker long list is in your future.

EM, I'm not sure where the monster comes from that's in your head. Everything I've seen you write has been incredible. Send that monster over here, I'll slay him with my bad ankle cuz he can't be too fierce. I'm agreeing with your beta readers without having laid eyes on your ms. You're good at this game. The right person just needs a chance to find out. Hang in there and keep writing. And, of course, keep querying too.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

John, thanks. I was sorry to hear about your ankle. I can't quite picture the whole treadmill desk thing. I sprained my ankle once just walking the dog so...

I have a standing desk at work but that's as far as I can go. My little demon is not a tame one, but I do try to keep the beast on a leash. Occasionally it gets loose and torments me into distraction as it has been lately. Thank heaven, I found this blog. It helps a lot during this limbo known as querying. You know, I really did think writing the book was the hard part. Ah well.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...


I got my white go-go boots and hot pants, I AM READY to go-go.

Remember Goldie dancing in a cage on Laugh In?
Ha, she's older than me.

BJ Muntain said...

Jennifer: One must sing to one's dogs. Otherwise, will they truly know you love them? I used to sing to Koko using the tune from The Flintstones theme, mostly, but I can fit a dog's name into any song. Little Girl Dog doesn't have one tune that is her own, but she has a lot of tunes...

Anonymous said...

I have posted far too much today, but I want to remind you all of something.

All of us have doubts from time to time. Ernest Hemingway did. All writers do. The writer who never doubts his writing is either mad or a fool, but real writers persevere regardless of the doubts. I keep his quotes about writing all about me like whispers from the past, reminding me I am a writer.

I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now.”--Hemingway

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say.--Hemingway

“Write the best story that you can and write it as straight as you can.”--Hemingway to Fitzgerald

When I was writing, it was necessary for me to read after I had written. If you kept thinking about it, you would lose the thing that you were writing before you could go on with it the next day.--Hemingway

Whether you like the man's writing or not, he knew what it was to be a writer. Pick a mantra and let him whisper it in your ear when you begin to lose faith.

I've read the stories y'all post here. Not a single one of you should ever doubt your abilities.

Lucie Witt said...

Julie, I'm happy you decided to leave one more comment today. That was exactly what I needed to read. I think the Paris quote is my favorite, both for reminding me I'm a writer, dammit, and that I hope to go to Paris one day, too.

Laura Mary, most of my beta readers are just that - readers. As long as they're willing to be brutally honest about what they loved/hated/what bored them silly, they work for me. I have one CP I met through the comments of another blog, and we read each other's stuff with an eye towards querying, so it's a very different experience.

Unknown said...

nightsmusic - I understand the feeling. For some reason it keeps creeping in that if I wait too much longer, all good agents and publishing will close forever and the story will never happen. Good news, though - I don't think that's true :)
Colin Smith - that query (and esp. the succinct description at the end) made me laugh out loud. I don't usually do that, esp. in a public place!

Anonymous said...

I just wrote a hideously long comment and then deleted it. You're welcome.

Instead, I'll just second the advice not to query too soon. I suspect a lot of agents don't realize, because we're sure as hell not going to admit it, how long it takes a writer to become competent enough to write publishable work. But we talk among ourselves and we know. It's almost never the first ms. Or the second or even the third. It might take five years, or ten, or more. It's like serving an apprenticeship, working on craft until you get it right, consistently. Be patient. Take the time it deserves. There will always be readers eager for new stories well told, and thank god for that.

Anonymous said...

Heh, lest I find myself drawing back a bloody stump . . . when I said "I suspect a lot of agents don't realize" I was not including Janet in that group. I think she knows very well how long it takes. And I probably should have included "as well as many new-ish writers" in that generalization.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

I love Hank's ten step dance and Colin's new book project. I'm glad I never queried what I wrote in '95 or since then. Like the captain, I'm rewriting, again. Though I didn't plot as well as I could have. I did dredge the 400 pages and made a scene draft on colored note cards.

Julie, great quotes.

K.d. That's so funny, 'you're welcome.'

Lucie, come have coffee or rue Descartes and I'll show you the James Joyce plaque or we can go to the Closerie des Lilas for a whisky. That's one place Hemmingway hung out.

Lucie Witt said...

Angie, believe me, if I'm ever going to Paris, the Reiders will know!

DLM said...

KD James just did with a comment what we're all on about with queries!

Leading by example. Thank you indeed. ;)

Lynn, I got a snoot on my nose. I take this to mean "Hi, Lynn and Reiders!" He may not have his happiest day today, with contractors crawling all over the house and taking over all his usual hidey holes. But he is a cat, and smaller than any contractor, so I trust he will find a safe corner. My little Gossa-monster. He's an OSUM-monster. (Jennifer, I sing at my kids too - see previous two sentences.)