Monday, April 2, 2012


Yup! Eighty degree weather in Michigan in March will do that to ‘em. My cousin has a huge orchard in northern Michigan, and I understand they are almost 5-6 weeks ahead of schedule. People down here near Detroit are whooping and hollering and loving the heat wave.

Sort of like a new author who gets an unexpected full read…before she’s ready.

Late last week, we had a frost advisory, further north, a frost warning. Then the next night we all got the warning. Then, alas, the third night, a freeze warning. Now, for those of you who don’t have a clue what that might do to an orchard, think of it this way; the trees’ juices start flowing early, they bud early, the freeze hits, and unless you’ve fired your orchard with thousands of dollars of gas heat(gone are the days of smudge pots), the buds fall off—the crop’s gone.

Our young writer has rewritten her first couple chapters over and over, had a few folks tell her it’s “pretty doggone good, sweetie”—usually mom or friend. Her creative juices are flowing and her work’s started to bud. Started being the key word. She gets a request based on those first chapters that have been tweaked to death, and along comes a request for a full read, better known as a frost warning. The freeze comes after the editor/agent reads it and realizes it’s no more ready to publish than the Titanic was to float. Hence, the frosty response.

The farmer stares at the trees and realizes there’s not a thing he can do other than pray to make it to next year’s crop of apples, cherries, or peaches.

By sending out work not ready, the author burns all her bridges with every agent/editor in the industry until all she can do is stare at the manuscript and pray she’ll be wiser next time.

Don’t be in a hurry. Chances are you aren’t going to fall into the “deal of a lifetime” by hurrying your work to market.

Wait ‘til you KNOW you have a peach of story before you send.


Cheryl said...

Exellent post, Linda. I wish I had thought more about this in my earlier days when I would enter a contest with a submission that wasn't ready.

Heather Marsten said...

LOL - so true. Sometimes us newbie authors are so excited about our stories it's hard to resist contacting someone. I'm restraining - my writing later in my memoir is far improved from the earlier chapters. I also have a better focus, so have to get rid of stuff. I love your gardening analogy. It is so true. I don't want a frost, I want something that will blossom in the agent's hands.

Davalyn Spencer said...

Great advice, Linda, with such memorable metaphor!

Heather Day Gilbert said...

So true, yet so difficult for newbie writers trying to get that debut novel ready (hard to do on your own!). I think, maybe 10 years ago, you could submit stuff that wasn't edited and trust it to the pub. house editor. But now, the more critiquing/editing you can take BEFORE submitting, the better your chances of getting through the agency doors.

Excellent example! I've heard of the dangers of frost for apple-tree farms, and it's no laughing matter for them. Sorry to hear MI is dealing w/this.

Patty Wysong said...

Great example. =]