Monday, December 10, 2012

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.


14 comments:

  1. I actually spend the same amount of time on my whole ms though the first time I queried I did have a prob w/ #3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. #3 hit me the first round, too. This may be semi-autobiographical. :)

      Delete
  2. I see this a lot with my editing clients, too. Writers need to remember that the goal is to get a request for a full. FULL. That means the full manuscript has to be shiny and ready for the agent or editor's eyes. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, sometimes we focus so much on just getting the agent to like it that we forget they have to like the whole darn thing. :)

      Delete
  3. I've noticed that too many writers are focused on getting an agent or getting pubbed and not on getting better as writers. These writers reason away CPs or agents' criticism by saying they just don't "get" the book -- and then they self-pub. Simple. Easy. Quick. And half-a**ed.
    However, for those of us who work our butts off to shine up every part of the ms and improve as writers, a little feedback from agents would be nice rather than "It's not quite the right fit for me" or worse, the "no response means no" policy. *sigh*
    Great post, Sarah! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh, the no response means no is a killer, though not that I'm the one writing some of these responses I understand that time is an issue. I hold close the rejections I received with specific feedback, they are invaluable.

    ReplyDelete
  5. All good advice and warnings! I used to rush things out in the earlier days. I tell my students never to do this!!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. It's so tempting to just rush and get it out there. I've really worked hard on not giving in to that!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Haha, number 5 cracks me up! With the last story, I got so caught up in editing section by section that I would forget to take a step back and see how things worked in the story *as a whole*. Such as easy trap to fall into.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a lovely manuscript that has been edited to death. Somehow I missed "add a plot" in all that editing. :O

      Delete
  8. When someone writes an paragraph he/she retains the plan of a
    user in his/her brain that how a user can know it.

    Thus that's why this paragraph is outstdanding. Thanks!
    Also visit my web-site :: amphora pipe tobacco

    ReplyDelete
  9. I totally agree. The manuscript should be as good as it can be, from start to finish. I also suggest avoiding the impulse to change your first few pages or chapters just because you feel they aren't strong enough to hook an agent. If you wrote the book the way you want, and you feel your early chapters are what they should be, don't gimmick them up just try to hook someone. That's probably far too easy for a real pro to see right through.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Your style is very unique compared to other folks I've read stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I'll just bookmark this web site.
    My webpage : golden virginia

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great point. Good opening doesn't save you if the rest of the MS isn't as good as it could be.

    ReplyDelete

Share the love, man...