Tag Archives: submissions

equality is what does not exist among equals

I’m reading a fiction submission from an author who’s a (very) minor celebrity. They wrote one memoirish non-fiction book, based on their life experience, which was published a couple of years ago with (minor) success. There are actually two partials that came with the query, so I have to read both. Now, if I got this very same submission from Joe or Jane Nobody, I’d just pass on it. It’s not that either of the partials are bad, it’s just that they’re not good. The writing is ok. The stories are ok. It’s all just kind of ok. But in this market, I usually pass on ok.

Manuscripts really need to have something unique about them for me to say, “Send me the full.” Sometimes unique is a great story. Sometimes it’s exquisite writing. Sometimes it’s the same old story told in a new way. But in my job as a reader I don’t generally request ok.

But then there’s the issue of platform. Do I request to read more from this author because she’s already successfully published? Because she has a name people (might) recognize? Because she probably has connections in the media which would allow her to market herself and a new book well? A good platform, after all, can make a huge difference.

How much do you shift your listening of something or someone depending upon who they are? Do you listen to the same boring story differently if it’s told by a hot young thing or a nasty old fart? What would you do? Would you request the full manuscripts or just pass?

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people who live in steel houses should pull down the lightning

I have a friend who is a great writer. She’s quite inspiring to me because she actually works on her writing, unlike me, who thinks about writing, talks about writing, reads about writing, helps others with their writing… you get the picture. Not only does she have the tenacity to sink her teeth into her work, she’s also quite good at it. Her characters come alive. She builds a believable world. Dialogue flows. Ideas are original. She’s funny. What my friend doesn’t have though, is confidence. It’s crazy to me! I can stand up in front of a crowd of strangers and read from a work in progress just to see what reaction I get and have fun doing it. My friend, on the other hand, not only won’t read, but barely shares her (awesome) work. I just want to shake her! Ok. I know she’s reading this (yes, you!).

Here’s my advice to her and other writers who are testing the query and submission waters: I won’t tell you not to listen to agents or other people who aren’t kind. I’ll say  listen to them, pretending that they are kind, and see if what they are saying has any merit. If so, in your mind you can give them the finger when you thank the bitch for sharing. If not, forget about them. They’re not worth your time. Now get back to work!

What about you? Do you allow yourself to benefit from criticism even when it’s barked at you with fangs bared? Or does it have to come with flowers and ribbons attached?

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