Monday, October 20, 2008

Chicken or the Egg

So after more research and picking out a handful of agencies (two of the agents I met at conferences), I'm now afraid to submit. I've read in most of the submission guidelines very cautionary language about submitting before the book is ready, and suggestions for a professional editor. Doesn't this suggest targeting editors first?

I did hire an editor, and Tyler's observation is right. I liked a lot of her changes, but a different editor will most likely have their own suggestions. That said, all my readers have suggested a technical edit for stupid mistakes, and that the book could be "tightened" with regard to confusing plot elements, or language that sometimes bordered on too cute or too on the nose.
I think I could accomplish both of those before submitting to an agent, but will they see that it's not been given a thorough professional edit?

Chicken or Egg?
Editor or Agent?



Tyler said...

"Perfectionism: One of the writer's seven deadly sins." -Bruce Coville.

As long as those stupid mistakes aren't glaring and constant, I'm pretty sure there is some level of forgiveness from agents. After all, they know it's not a published book yet either and in all likelihood has not been looked at by an agent. If you've talked to the agents and they even might remember you, and your manuscript shows promise (which it obviously does, according to other reads) I say submit it.

Jacqui said...

I respectfully disagree with Tyler. I think you've gotta do everything you can to give your book its best shot. You only get one chance to have an agent read it for the first time; you gotta make it the best it can possibly be. Sure, someone different might want different things emphasized or whatever, but things like making it tighter will help no matter who it is.

Tyler said...

I agree with you, Jacqui, that you definitely want to make it as tight and good as possible. My concern for Graeme is that eventually it might get overworked, and could lose that spontaneity that, based on the bit of time I've spent with Graeme, is probably very prevalent in his writing. Granted, I've never read it, so I'm giving blind advice here, but that was the first thought that ran through my head, as it seems like he's been wrestling a lot with small tweaking and minute detail issues of late.

Graeme Stone said...

Wow, it's celebrity death match right here in the blog.

I think I'll split the difference. Jacqui's read it and she had the same observations that Jake the book buyer had. And though Tyler hasn't read it, I hear his observations about not overdoing it and not overthinking it. I can do another edit using the critique's about tightening the prose/story/plot/language, and another copyeditor I work with offered to do a technical edit. Then I'm not paying an editor, and I can in good conscience submit to an agent or editor knowing it's been polished to the best of my ability.

And I did have the experience with my tweener book "Dr. Rasp" of submitting to Bob DeForio who rejected it because of typos. He didn't say he'd never read another book, but man did it sting to know that if I'd just taken the time, I'd have been able to take the rejection knowing it was nothing that was a stupid fault that got it rejected.

Thank you both for writing back so quickly. Once more to the edit!

- Graeme

Jacqui said...

No death match, though I would take. Tyler. down. if necessary :)

I think you said my point much better -- you always want to know there was nothing more you could have done to increase your book's chances, especially something easy.

Tyler said...

Bring it, Jacqui. ;)

I think you've got a solid plan of action there, Graeme. If your first book was rejected because of typos, then I can understand your nervousness. And if you've got a copyeditor willing to look at your stuff, then that's perfect, because a copyeditor will root out all that technical, sloppy mumbo-jumbo, and leave you to focus on the actual story/everything else creative. Nice.

Also, have you considered Big Sur? It's kind of last second and I know it's a bit of a hefty price tag, but quite a few big name agents and editors will be there, and it's basically a whole weekend of them looking at your stuff. Heck, Andrea Brown looks at them personally to place them for one-on-ones. Lots of people get picked up there, and it's a great way to get exposure without actually burning any bridges.

Christy Raedeke said...

Tyler speaks the truth - Big Sur rocks! That's where I met Laura Rennert. Then I went back even after I'd signed with her because that place just makes you do great work.

Graeme Stone said...

Big Sur sounds great. I'll look it up. I have been collecting conference names from the ones agents/publishers mention at Writers Market.

And to Jacqui, Tyler and Christy, I just want to say thanks. Writing can be so solitary you wonder if there really is a roar of keys and nimble fingers out there in the void. And yes there is a roar.


Graeme Stone said...

Sweet Mother of God, $700. Wow. That's right up there with Thriller Fest. One day soon I too will be on writing panels.

So this is coming up in March, pages due in February? Is that the right one? It does say send to Andrea Brown.

Maybe I can get a part-time job and sea kayak on up the coast... hmmm... Anyone else going? Sweeten the pot for me...?

Christy Raedeke said...

You want the December one - that's for YA specifically - I think the March one is for adult lit. I know it's expensive but it is by far the best investment I've made. I've been to 8 big "conferences" and none has had the level of intimate contact you get with real live editors and agents. The format is different - you sit around in very small groups (5ish) with an editor or agent or writer and read work aloud. Then you leave and revise and come back read again. So you are getting unprecedented feedback from the source. Then, of course, you are allowed to submit to ALL editors who were at the workshop (regardless of if they worked with you) and they promise to read your stuff. That alone is worth the price of admission. This format is far, far more valuable (though a bit less fun/cocktail-y) than a regular conference where you just listen to speakers and try desperately to network. When editors and agents can spend time with you, magical things can happen - especially a writer as hilarious and charming as you. You'll have them flocking to your side at meals...

Anonymous said...

Ooops, forgot the link:

Disco Mermaids said...


I second Christy's comments about Big Sur!

I am going this year (which means YOU should, too), went last year, and highly recommend it for all levels of writers.

I had signed with Laura right before BS, but got amazing feedback from editors, established a solid rapport with each of them, and as a bonus...I met Christy Raedeke. It really is worth the investment, especially if you particularly like what the editors have worked on in the past.

Call/write soon! It's been too long!!


Christy Raedeke said...

Ah, that's sweet Eve!

She brings up a great point - you make some great relationships with other writers as well, since you're holed up in the woods for three days...