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Monday, September 26, 2011

Just whined and complained...by Linda S. Glaz

I just whined and complained on my own blog about the tough skin it takes to be an agent. But it was all true. I get so many really "good" books, but as Terry Burns taught me last year, a good book is no longer enough in today's market. A book must be great--stellar!

I'm not complaining, mind you, but it would be so much easier not to have to write an author who wrote a really good book and tell them they have to keep at it. Strengthen it, re-edit, polish, run it past a crit group, take some more writing classes, all the things that change a work from good to stellar.

I wrote half a dozen of those letters this morning. And it really breaks my heart to have to turn down a story that is so endearing, so exciting, just because the writing needs to be bumped up a few levels. A bit of work, I'm happy to take on, but when the entire book needs serious editing...

Okay, so I am whining a bit. There are some wonderful authors out there who just send their work out way too soon, and it's a shame. A bit more work and the book could be accepted.

***HUGE SIGH***

10 comments:

Timothy Fish said...

I've heard this complaint before, but I can't help but think it is all part of the process. Authors are all off laboring alone. They reach a point at which they feel like they are done. They may show it to their family and friends, who will say that it is good, but they aren't likely to say it is bad. They may show it to a critique group, but that may not be much better. No one has a real incentive to pick at the author's work until the author sends it to someone who hopes to make money from the author's work. So I disagree with the assumption that authors are sending out their work "too soon"; it just isn't good enough.

Normandie Ward Fischer said...

Linda, I understand completely, though from the editor's end. I want to rescue everyone who writes a good story, a story that has potential but isn't quite there yet. I'm sitting on one that needs The Letter, and I don't want to write it. Such potential, so much hope...but I don't have the time to mentor everyone.

I wish all submissions to Wayside came with an agent's stamp: at least those would have some earlier vetting, and I might not have quite so many rejection letters to send. But there's always the hope, isn't there? For that one brilliant piece, that one hidden gem...

So, the slush pile remains active at Wayside Press. Surely someone is writing beautiful crossover fiction...

Terry Burns said...

Yes, I get hundreds of submissions a month and a large percentage of them are good, probably deserving of publication, but I can't represent that many and publishers can't publish that many. It does take one that stands out from the crowd, unique topic or take on a topic, unique voice and style, and one that right now at this point in time matches up with a market we are aware of. And yes, it does have to be as well written as possible, because much of the competition is.

Diana said...

Well said Linda and Terry. I am finding it harder to answer every unsolicited submission because of time constraints.

Rick Barry said...

Because I worked some years back as an editor, I would sometimes freelance edit for a few clients. I noted the same problem. People who have slaved for countless hours in front of a computer can become overeager when they finally peck the final period into a manuscript. All the words are there. They want the world to see it. They yearn to offer their masterpiece for publication. More than once, I've had to urge patience. For a book-length project, even a couple weeks of revising may not be enough to buff a good story to a fine sheen.

Diana, I might suggest creating six or seven appropriate reply letters for yourself. Copy and paste each one as needed. It's wonderful that you want to answer each unsolicited submission, but you'll end up wasting all your time replying about projects you can't accept. On the writer's end, even a form-letter decline is better than silence. Just part of the business.

Jeanette Levellie said...

I don't see it as whining, Linda. It helps us see what you job is like from the other side of the desk. Knowing you agonize over good writing that is not yet excellent makes us like you.

These kinds of whines endear you to us.

Like when I tell the ladies in my Sunday School class that I argued with my pastor husband last night, they love me for it.

Diana said...

Thanks Rick, I do a form of that but then I have to open documents etc. :-) Terry Burns is really good at replying to all and I am aspiring to catch up with him.

Linda Glaz said...

Oh, Jeanette, you made me laugh. The first time my old pastor's wife said to me, "Ooh, he makes me so mad." Then her hand flew to her mouth and she apologized. I loved her all the more for it and told her so. Made me realize we ALL have those moments and I felt so much more normal after that. I'll bet the ladies loved that!

Sharon A. Lavy said...

The thing is, Linda, you are not squelching them. You are just telling them to keep at it.

Several years ago one of the Genesis judges wrote something like this on her critique:

God has given you the desire to write, you have talent, keep at it.

Sharon A. Lavy said...

That was a critique of my work. I appreciated it. I am still plugging away. Couldn't stop anyway unless HE told me to.