Tag Archives: editors

After the Agent Pitch

Emerging writers flock to conferences like the one just held by the Pacific Northwest Writers Association because they’re looking for information–from presenters with tips on craft and marketing, from fellow writers on lessons learned, from the bulletin board that lists local critique groups, and of course from editors and agents who are broadly viewed to hold the keys to the palace of publishing. We practice our pitches, memorize our log lines and synopses, update with lightning speed our writing credentials for our bios, all in the hopes that some paragon of the industry–or new agent looking to sign unknown authors–will ask for a partial manuscript. We feel the onslaught of butterflies invade our intestines when we’re instructed to give a specific subject line in our email message, like we’ve just learned the 21st Century’s version of “Open, Sesame.”

Before you click on that send button, do a few things: Read More…

PNWA 2012 Moments from Friday

red pen correctionsThe first time I came to the PNWA Conference I was by myself, staying as a guest in the man cave of a friend’s house and commuting to the conference hotel by bus. I got to the event early and stayed all day, rumbled home on uneven roads, and zonked out until it was time to repeat the process in the morning. The next year I came with my sweetheart in tow, who was 9 months pregnant at the time, so I ducked out often to grab a meal with her or check in. This year I’ve got a family with me, meaning that I’m attempting to cram baby watching time in with networking, going to panels, and pitching stories to industry folks. Now that exhaustion from two years ago seems tame in comparison.

Also, this is the first year I’ve attended the conference as a published author. That’s pretty rad. Even still, my self-pessimistic nature continues to knock at my mind’s door. Oh, look at your puny stack of one book. And you call yourself a writer?

I’ve written before about how I’ve sent my inner critic away on a permanent vacation. Sometimes it pops back for a rendezvous with the rest of my thoughts, and I have to shoo it away again. Yesterday it tried to set its suitcases down and I handed it a ticket to Argentina. Go see the llamas and glaciers, I said. It slumped off, pissed and dejected. Read More…

How Not to Respond to Success

Dame Sally Markham from Little BritainEmerging writers are tired people. We’re working on building our networks, improving our storytelling and writing, marketing ourselves as writers, and fretting over query letters to entice agents to represent us. The idea that novelists sit around eating bon bons and dictating prose into a recorder is a non-author’s fantasy. Real writers wear out their keyboards and keep going.

It’s impossible, quite frankly, to do all of this and keep every vestige of reasonableness in one’s body. Some of our patience wears thin; or we misplace a bit of perspective here or there. I think I have some alertness stuck under the dryer in my laundry room, for example. Or maybe it’s acuity; I can’t tell, because I’ve dribbled out some of my ability to ascertain my own aspects of intelligence. Read More…

Quality Control for the Short Story

pen on a writing journalI am familiar with the rejection machine, so I’ve blogged about it from time to time, mostly in terms of how to handle it (read: don’t take it personally) and what to do in its wake (submit again). Stories, however, need to be as polished as possible without reaching into the universe of pedantry. If writers throw semi-finished work into the publishing machine, they’re not going to get very far. While I don’t subscribe to the idea that agents and editors need to “fall in love” with my writing—because I have issues with the dating model—I do agree that pieces need to be as good as possible. Milquetoast stories are not going to be published while well thought out, crafted words wait for the next opportunity. Also, our work is our reputation. I acknowledge that this is a high bar, but it’s also the only fair standard upon which to measure.

Fortunately, there are lots of things we writers can do to get our work where it needs to be. Read More…

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