Agency Lessons

Is your diamond still in the rough?

Today I want to talk about a very serious ailment that's been known to plague agent in-boxes around the nation. I call it Submission Blindness.

Submission Blindness occurs when an author polishes their query, synopsis and first few pages until they shine bright like diamonds, blinding the author to the issues that exist in the rest of the manuscript.

I get it, really. So much of the advice out there talks about how important it is to nail those first few pages. And it's true. If you can't capture an agents attention with your opening, your chances of representation are slim. But along the way, some authors forget that the rest of the manuscript needs to be just as good.

Most of us spend a ton of time on those pages and I realize that we can't give the same amount of time to the entire manuscript (unless your goal is one book per decade). Even if we aren't dedicating the same amount of time, we need to make sure that the rest of the manuscript is just as shiny. Trust me when I say it's obvious when a writer has work-shopped those first few pages to the moon and back, and only gave the others a quick edit. And nothing will make me stop reading faster.

We all want to get our work out there as soon as we can. The waiting for it to be perfect feels like an eternity. We just want to query and get some real feedback. But unless you want that feedback to be "I lost interest around page 10", you have to make sure the whole thing is shiny like a diamond.

In order to avoid Submission Blindness (SB) it's important to recognize the warning signs. If you suffer from one or more of the below symptoms, you may have Submission Blindness:

1. Your CPs have only commented on the first half of your manuscript, but you're ready to query.
2. You've made significant changes to the manuscript and no one else has seen it since.
3. Those two scenes are still rough, but you don't know how to fix them and you hope the agent will.
4. Most of your beta comments start with "The beginning was great, but..."
5. You can't remember the last time you read through the whole manuscript.

The good news is treatment for Submission Blindness is simple. If you feel you may suffer from SB, delete your query email and step away from the inbox. In the most serious cases it may be necessary to close out your internet browser. Now pick up your manuscript and get to work. With dedication and a little patience, Submission Blindness is completely curable.