Sunday, August 31, 2008

CONFERENCE CONFIDENCES: A MOUSE IN THE CORNER...

No faces. No names. No specifics.

What happens when an author finds herself at dinner at a table full of agents and editors?
Presenting at a conference is great fun and an opportunity to learn about the publishing business. I felt caught in the middle. I had writers pulling my sleeve on one side asking me what the secret was and agents and editors on the other side telling me they were looking. Looking for a great writer, a great story teller, a great story. They were looking.
Editors reiterated: FIND AN AGENT. They really REALLY really want agented authors. It's so much easier.
Agents?
Well they are not looking to reject you. It's just that this business is so subjective. It may be written well, it may be a great idea but the agent or editor doesn't feel it's for them.
Each one said.
DO NOT GIVE UP.
It was interesting as I was chatting with several agents who had rejected me in the past and they said that's always in the back of their minds..."What if I'm rejecting someone I might really want? What if their next project is truly amazing? What if I miss something really REALLY good? What if...What if...What if...
This business is full of rejection and full of regrets. But there's no hard feelings and no regrets on my part. I found the agent I was meant to have. The Phenomenal. The AMAZING. THE MAGICAL Dorian Karchmar of William Morris Agency.
One of the refrains I was hearing over and over was this:
Writers query their stuff too early. Writers don't revise enough. They get in a hurry.
It may have taken you ten years to finish your space opera opus - it takes nearly as long to revise it.
The author Ann Hood told me (Knitting Circle, Comfort) her editor has often said that there are many novels she would have bought if they had been revised just one more time.
Agents say this too.
Many of the writers who attended the retreat thought their work was ready. At the end of the retreat they realized that it wasn't. When you're so close to your story it's hard to see the holes.
And if a kind of story just doesn't sell? Well, Steve Berry was told that conspiracy novels were so over in the '90's. And then the Da Vinci Code hit and, well, the rest is history. All his novels were published and became best sellers.
All of this has been said before. All of this I have heard. I think it hits home a bit more when you see the earnestness, the sincerity, in their faces.
I repeat,
They DO NOT want to reject you.
BUT.
They need writers who write. Writers who can finish one book and then another and another. Writers who revise, revise and revise some more. Writers who learn grammar and syntax and read and read and read. Writers who know the business or take the time to learn.


I must tell you, Tooloose was very upset. I didn't allow him to come and bring his manuscript and pitch it. He's just not ready. You ask him what his book is a bout and 15 minutes of meows later you still have no clue.
I told him he needed a two sentence pitch.
He's been in his litter box all morning practicing ... at least that's what he said...

13 comments:

pierre l said...

I Tooloose going to start a blog? I already follow one blog written by Monty the dog, although his human Kathryn helps him. I will now leave the floor to serious commenters.

laughingwolf said...

tooloose for PREZ!

Jay said...

Cool!! Have they set the dates for next year? My insane year will be over soon and then I can focus on writing and living and traveling and writing and Maui?!

Janet said...

Oh my goodness. How do we know when we are no longer one revision away, but have actually arrived?

Joanne said...

Thanks for sharing this Pat, esp the revision info. It's something you don't hear too often, the necessity of revision, revision. It's amazing how much my story's changed since its first go-round. Ann Hood's editor's comment is motivation enough to do that one more revision.

ORION said...

I guess the point is you dont...but you can see evidence as your partial to full rate increases...

Janna Qualman said...

Very encouraging words, Patricia, and I so appreciate them at this point in my career.

Best to you!

Doreen Orion said...

Oh, come on, Pat! Don't you feel just a little... a LITTLE, you know, completely and utterly fabulous talking to the agents who rejected you? I can't help it. As a shrink, I'm fond of saying that Schaden was always my favorite of the Freud brothers.

WendyCinNYC said...

Thanks, Patricia. Good to know. I'm going to a conference soon and I can only HOPE I've revised my MS enough. Guess I'll find out.

Demon Hunter said...

Thanks for sharing this, Pat. :-) Revision is not fun, but it is very necessary. And learning syntax. Oy. :-) It may sound wonderful one minute, and terrible the next after revision begins.

Trish Ryan said...

Wise words. Hopefully you can help Tooloose get his work ready to show :)

My dog is convinced she needs a ghost writer, as actual writing would interfere too much with her lounging schedule...

Ello said...

You are so right. I just learned from an agent this week that I definitely queried too soon. It would have been all bad but he is willing to let me revise and submit. Hopefully I won't make the same mistake twice!!!

Polly Kahl said...

Hi Pat, long time no comment. (been busy writing) Great post, and so true about writers wanting to jump the gun.