PDA

View Full Version : I need help


Sargentodiaz
11-11-2009, 04:13 AM
I need help.

I've "completed" five novels - done the edit, revision, rewrite, etc., to the point where I can't think of much else to do with them. I've written query letters and synopses - and have yet to receive even a request for a partial.

I know I'm not a "bad" writer as most people who read my stuff tell me it has merit.

So, what am I doing wrong? Perhaps members of this forum can tell me what's missing or what needs fixing? Or, simply that it's not fit to be published.

The five novels are:

Blood in the Meadows - a thriller of 86,000 words set in Las Vegas where a local cabbie stands between a Colombian drug boss and thousands of New Year's Eve revelers he seeks to slaughter in revenge for the loss of his son at the hands of local drug agents.

Follow the Raven - fantasy with a strong overtone of science fiction at 116,000 words in which gods watch as Eigan, a young human, sets out to fix a mess the fathers of those gods allowed to happen.

Sonora Symphony - a commercial novel of 110,000 words in which a wounded, modern Cherokee warrior meets a Papago elder who helps him regain his memory and face life - even in spite of learning his parents were murdered while he was serving in Afghanistan. [this is currently in limbo with editors who've not given me an update on its status in a couple of months.]

Tslagi Tales - the sequel to Sonora Symphony in which the warrior, now joined by a Cherokeee medicine woman, set out to find why his parents were murdered.

Waltzing in the Shadows - commercial/historical fiction of 168,000 words set in Vienna during the late 1970s and early 1980s in which the fate of nations sometimes hinge upon anonymous warriors, some of whom do not wear uniforms.

Each has a query and a synopsis and I can provide either a partial or complete manuscript for each.

I DO NOT need an editor! [At least I don't think so.] I just need someone(s) to tell me what I need to do to "fix them" - if that's possible.

Thanks in advance.

MGraybosch
11-11-2009, 04:17 AM
I DO NOT need an editor! [At least I don't think so.] I just need someone(s) to tell me what I need to do to "fix them" - if that's possible.

Isn't suggesting fixes part of what an editor does? Also, are you sure you're submitting to the right agents? Most agents are picky about what sort of material they'll consider; get the latest edition of Writers' Market for details.

Eldritch
11-11-2009, 04:20 AM
How many queries have you sent for each novel?

firedrake
11-11-2009, 04:36 AM
You say you've had people read them. Have you had them beta-read, as opposed to being read by friends and/or relatives?

Have you posted any bits in SYW?

Williebee
11-11-2009, 04:54 AM
LVCabbie

I know you've been posting up stuff in SYW, and getting some pretty good feedback from it.

A serious beta reader would make sense. (When you find a good one, treasure them.)

Next question would be, how are you selecting who you are sending to? Have you hit PublishersMarketplace to find agents (who are selling) in your genre?

Good luck sir. Sonora Symphony sounds particularly interesting to me.

Linda Adams
11-11-2009, 05:09 AM
One of the things I learned was the writing itself doesn't matter as much as the story does. A book can have great writing but a story that doesn't work or doesn't stand out. Don't know if that's the case with yours, but thought it was worth thinking about.

Also, what makes the stories special? If the agent has 50 similar manuscripts sitting on her desk, what's going to make yours different? That's a really tough question to answer, and a lot of people don't know (which also means it's probably not in the story).

ORION
11-11-2009, 06:10 AM
Um...I needed my editor...

kuatolives
11-11-2009, 07:04 AM
Also, what makes the stories special? If the agent has 50 similar manuscripts sitting on her desk, what's going to make yours different?

Nah. If it's original than you'll have to beat people over the head with it. Publishers chase their own industry like an ice cream man chasing down his own ice cream truck.

Matera the Mad
11-11-2009, 07:26 AM
Beta readers. Everyone needs them. They are a teensy bit easier to get than agents, cheaper than anything else, and more valuable than gold.

katiemac
11-11-2009, 07:51 AM
The first thing I noticed were your word counts. Agents suggest new writers don't pitch anything over 100,000 words. Money is a factor, but word count restrictions exist for the same reason when you were in high school your teachers set a minimum/maximum page count for essays. They knew how much writing it took to explore the essay topic; same with agents--they know how much writing it takes to tell a compelling story.

Without a doubt I bet your last book is getting knocked based on the 168,000 word count alone. (That's the size of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince... and Rowling only got that word count because she was making the publisher millions of dollars.) Cut your novels down to less than 100,000 words and that might help your response rate.

Randman
11-11-2009, 07:53 AM
Isn't suggesting fixes part of what an editor does?

I agree with MGraybosch in that an editor will tell you wwhere the gaps are what is out of order and recommendations on how to fix whatever is broke.

The other point mentioned is the agent. Are you blasting to the wrong groups or are you selectively applying to those who may be interested and are you following their instructions to the T?

I have had 1 maybe, 1 not my cup of tea and 5 no thank yous. Several hundred more to solicit, but since I have 2 sections to go, I have a bit of time. Keep trying and good luck.:)

Judg
11-11-2009, 07:59 AM
If you have received not a single request, my first thought is that your query letters are weak.

kaitie
11-11-2009, 08:20 AM
The first thing I noticed were your word counts. Agents suggest new writers don't pitch anything over 100,000 words. Money is a factor, but word count restrictions exist for the same reason when you were in high school your teachers set a minimum/maximum page count for essays. They knew how much writing it took to explore the essay topic; same with agents--they know how much writing it takes to tell a compelling story.

Without a doubt I bet your last book is getting knocked based on the 168,000 word count alone. (That's the size of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince... and Rowling only got that word count because she was making the publisher millions of dollars.) Cut your novels down to less than 100,000 words and that might help your response rate.

I'm not sure I agree with this. I do agree with the assessment that the word counts could be hindering and he should see if there isn't something there that can be changed. But I've been reading a lot about word counts (my story is far too long) and while I do think there is a consensus that most long novels are just too wordy, I disagree with the concept that a compelling story would have to be within a certain count. I think it's too subjective. I mean, to take the Harry Potter example, could you possibly think of where that would be changed? All of the subplots would have to be removed, characterization, much of the plot, in order to make it a "reasonable" length for a children's book. I'm not saying she'd have ever gotten picked up that way, just that I would certainly call it a compelling story. Some books just need to be longer.

From everything I've read it's less about story as it is about size and money. Publishers like smaller books and booksellers like to fit more on a shelf. Granted, I could be wrong here. You definitely have been doing this longer than I have.

Anyway, to the OP, I have to say it does seem odd not to have gotten a single partial request, and really the only excessively long story is the 168k one. The others fall within those relatively reasonable realms I see quoted everywhere (typically I'm seeing 100k or less is GOOD, under 120k is less good but probably won't get an automatic rejection).

If people have said your writing is good my guess is that the problem is the query letter itself. Have you had people critique those? It's possible that you've got a good compelling story but are just not presenting it well in the letter and that's why they're turning them down. I also agree with the "how many have you sent" question. Has anyone ever sent you a rejection that gave reasons why, or were they all form?

kaitie
11-11-2009, 08:20 AM
The first thing I noticed were your word counts. Agents suggest new writers don't pitch anything over 100,000 words. Money is a factor, but word count restrictions exist for the same reason when you were in high school your teachers set a minimum/maximum page count for essays. They knew how much writing it took to explore the essay topic; same with agents--they know how much writing it takes to tell a compelling story.

Without a doubt I bet your last book is getting knocked based on the 168,000 word count alone. (That's the size of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince... and Rowling only got that word count because she was making the publisher millions of dollars.) Cut your novels down to less than 100,000 words and that might help your response rate.

I'm not sure I agree with this. I do agree with the assessment that the word counts could be hindering and he should see if there isn't something there that can be changed. But I've been reading a lot about word counts (my story is far too long) and while I do think there is a consensus that most long novels are just too wordy, I disagree with the concept that a compelling story would have to be within a certain count. I think it's too subjective. I mean, to take the Harry Potter example, could you possibly think of where that would be changed? All of the subplots would have to be removed, characterization, much of the plot, in order to make it a "reasonable" length for a children's book. I'm not saying she'd have ever gotten picked up by an agent without having been published first, just that I would certainly call it a compelling story. Some books just need to be longer.

From everything I've read it's less about story as it is about size and money. Publishers like smaller books because they're cheaper and booksellers like to fit more on a shelf. Granted, I could be wrong here. You definitely have been doing this longer than I have.

Anyway, to the OP, I have to say it does seem odd not to have gotten a single partial request, and really the only excessively long story is the 168k one. The others fall within those relatively reasonable realms I see quoted everywhere (typically I'm seeing 100k or less is GOOD, under 120k is less good but probably won't get an automatic rejection).

If people have said your writing is good my guess is that the problem is the query letter itself. Have you had people critique those? It's possible that you've got a good compelling story but are just not presenting it well in the letter and that's why they're turning them down. I also agree with the "how many have you sent" question. Has anyone ever sent you a rejection that gave reasons why, or were they all form?

katiemac
11-11-2009, 08:33 AM
I'm not sure I agree with this. I do agree with the assessment that the word counts could be hindering and he should see if there isn't something there that can be changed. But I've been reading a lot about word counts (my story is far too long) and while I do think there is a consensus that most long novels are just too wordy, I disagree with the concept that a compelling story would have to be within a certain count. I think it's too subjective. I mean, to take the Harry Potter example, could you possibly think of where that would be changed? All of the subplots would have to be removed, characterization, much of the plot, in order to make it a "reasonable" length for a children's book. I'm not saying she'd have ever gotten picked up that way, just that I would certainly call it a compelling story. Some books just need to be longer.

My word choice your bolded probably wasn't that great, and I agree it wasn't all that clear. Obviously books longer than 100,000 do well, and are compelling. Usually these are books from established writers. (Because of the very large money factor.) The first Potter book was cut down, cut down and cut down because it was too long (finally pubbed at 76,000, and that was still considered too long.) Now look at the word counts she was able to get away with in her later books because she sold.

But the main idea I was striving for in my post was that if you hand an agent a synopsis or a query letter, they are so familiar with the construction of good stories that they can tell you how long they expect your novel might be based on what you've given them. If your query letter boasts a 100,000+ word count, but your plot only suggests enough meat for 50,000 words, well, that's not going to work. And yes, I think agents can recognize these things based off a 250-word blurb. They're not just looking at the hook, although sometimes a hook alone will generate interest, but they're also looking for follow through.

When agents reject query letters because of word count alone, the money factor will be part of it. They simply cannot sell books that long to publishers. But part of it, too, is that more often than not the query letters with enormous word counts also produce bad pages--whether it's wordiness or unnecessary scenes or bad construction. It's a sign of a newbie, whether unwarranted or not, so there's a prejudice against high word counts you have to overcome when pitching.

You have to justify what you write in a query letter no matter what, but if your word count is too high (or too low), then your letter better be the best thing the agent's seen all month.

ChaosTitan
11-11-2009, 06:12 PM
From everything I've read it's less about story as it is about size and money.

Actually, it's both.

There have been and always will be those great exceptions--debut novels that are 150/180/250,000 words long. But if you compare the word counts of every novel that has debuted this year, the vast majority of them are going to fall well within the accepted guidelines. Very few, especially outside of SF/F, will be above 120k.

If you have a compelling story, and you can sell the agent on your compelling story, they may not mind your 160k word count. They may ask you to trim it, of course, but it's possible that story will trump length. Again: exception.

Very few people will be an exception. And the odds will always lean more in your favor when you follow the suggested guidelines. I read once on an agent blog that if presented with two equally awesome manuscripts and only the chance to offer on one, with word counts of 100k or 160k, the agent will choose the shorter book.


You have to justify what you write in a query letter no matter what, but if your word count is too high (or too low), then your letter better be the best thing the agent's seen all month.

QFT.

kaitie
11-11-2009, 06:46 PM
My word choice your bolded probably wasn't that great, and I agree it wasn't all that clear. Obviously books longer than 100,000 do well, and are compelling. Usually these are books from established writers. (Because of the very large money factor.) The first Potter book was cut down, cut down and cut down because it was too long (finally pubbed at 76,000, and that was still considered too long.) Now look at the word counts she was able to get away with in her later books because she sold.

But the main idea I was striving for in my post was that if you hand an agent a synopsis or a query letter, they are so familiar with the construction of good stories that they can tell you how long they expect your novel might be based on what you've given them. If your query letter boasts a 100,000+ word count, but your plot only suggests enough meat for 50,000 words, well, that's not going to work. And yes, I think agents can recognize these things based off a 250-word blurb. They're not just looking at the hook, although sometimes a hook alone will generate interest, but they're also looking for follow through.

When agents reject query letters because of word count alone, the money factor will be part of it. They simply cannot sell books that long to publishers. But part of it, too, is that more often than not the query letters with enormous word counts also produce bad pages--whether it's wordiness or unnecessary scenes or bad construction. It's a sign of a newbie, whether unwarranted or not, so there's a prejudice against high word counts you have to overcome when pitching.

You have to justify what you write in a query letter no matter what, but if your word count is too high (or too low), then your letter better be the best thing the agent's seen all month.

That makes sense. I definitely agree with the last statement that the query letter had better be darn good in those cases.

JennW
11-11-2009, 06:57 PM
If you have received not a single request, my first thought is that your query letters are weak.
That's what I was thinking. Post your query letter in SYW (Query Letter Hell) and rework it. That may do the trick. The first letter I wrote on my own was horrendous and the folks in QLH helped me whip it into shape.:)

allenparker
11-11-2009, 06:59 PM
You have to justify what you write in a query letter no matter what, but if your word count is too high (or too low), then your letter better be the best thing the agent's seen all month.

I think you are dead on here. If you write a story that has only 35000 words, they need to be the perfect 35000 words. The query letter needs to reflect that the story took 35000 words to tell and not a word more.

If your story takes 135000 words to tell, they need to be the perfect 135000 words and no less words would tell the story completely.

Even then, the query needs to portray the sense of perfection in story length, as well as depth and range.

My guess is the query letter might need a tweaking. SYW has some excellent tweakers.

LuckyH
11-12-2009, 12:44 AM
I need help.

I've "completed" five novels - done the edit, revision, rewrite, etc., to the point where I can't think of much else to do with them. I've written query letters and synopses - and have yet to receive even a request for a partial.

I know I'm not a "bad" writer as most people who read my stuff tell me it has merit.

So, what am I doing wrong? Perhaps members of this forum can tell me what's missing or what needs fixing? Or, simply that it's not fit to be published.

The five novels are:

Blood in the Meadows - a thriller of 86,000 words set in Las Vegas where a local cabbie stands between a Colombian drug boss and thousands of New Year's Eve revelers he seeks to slaughter in revenge for the loss of his son at the hands of local drug agents.

Follow the Raven - fantasy with a strong overtone of science fiction at 116,000 words in which gods watch as Eigan, a young human, sets out to fix a mess the fathers of those gods allowed to happen.

Sonora Symphony - a commercial novel of 110,000 words in which a wounded, modern Cherokee warrior meets a Papago elder who helps him regain his memory and face life - even in spite of learning his parents were murdered while he was serving in Afghanistan. [this is currently in limbo with editors who've not given me an update on its status in a couple of months.]

Tslagi Tales - the sequel to Sonora Symphony in which the warrior, now joined by a Cherokeee medicine woman, set out to find why his parents were murdered.

Waltzing in the Shadows - commercial/historical fiction of 168,000 words set in Vienna during the late 1970s and early 1980s in which the fate of nations sometimes hinge upon anonymous warriors, some of whom do not wear uniforms.

Each has a query and a synopsis and I can provide either a partial or complete manuscript for each.

I DO NOT need an editor! [At least I don't think so.] I just need someone(s) to tell me what I need to do to "fix them" - if that's possible.

Thanks in advance.

I would suggest starting from scratch. You should rightly be proud of your achievements, but your attitude is plainly wrong, sorry, but thatís my opinion.

Pick your best one and submit it again, you know the procedure, but do not mention
having written anything else. ĎIím a new author, this is a first submission of XXXí.

Failing that, write the new one, forget the failures.

Southpaw
11-12-2009, 03:45 AM
I haven't submitted anything myself, so this is just from what I’ve read on all those great literacy agent blogs. Query letters are everything, and writing them can be painstaking, especially because it is a different type of writing. Word count seems important, too. So, maybe try to query the lower book count first and post in the QLHlike suggested above.

job
11-12-2009, 05:32 AM
168,000 words. Well . . . It is possible the agent may take one look at that in a query letter and not bother to read further. Even 116K is a long book these days.

And you might maybe reposition the 1970 book from 'historical fiction' to thriller ... ?

Now ... these five books are between 500K and 600K total. How long did it take to write all that?

If you've produced that many words in significantly less than five years, you may possibly be rushing through the work. Not editing it enough. High word count can be a signal of insufficient editing.
Not saying that is the problem here. Just putting it out as a thought.

The 'I do not need an editor' is a bit of warning bell for me.
My editor is worth her weight in gold. She makes my books good.

Sargentodiaz
11-12-2009, 05:46 AM
Thanks for the input

Wordwrestler
11-12-2009, 05:57 AM
If you have a compelling story, and you can sell the agent on your compelling story, they may not mind your 160k word count. They may ask you to trim it, of course, but it's possible that story will trump length. Again: exception.
QFT.

This happened to me. In retrospect, I think I would have gotten more requests for my ms if the word count had been lower. I consider it an act of God that my agent requested my novel with its high word count.

OP, I'm guessing that your comment about not needing an editor was your way of saying that the purpose of your post wasn't to seek editors-for-hire. I hope that's the case, and that you'll be open to editorial input should you find yourself in the enviable position to receive it.

Slushie
11-12-2009, 06:36 AM
I drive my car into a mechanic's garage then roll down the window and say, "It's broken, fix it please."

The mechanic gives me a blank look. "Okay. What's wrong with it?"

"I don't know," I say, "I put gas in, people tell me I'm a good driver, I've washed and waxed it again and again. I just want somebody tell me whether or not my car can make it to New York."

"Sorry kid. I can't really help you until I get some more information. Each car has their own set of problems; some are more common than others. I can't give you anything specific because you didn't give me enough detail. All I can say is good luck getting to New York."

Sargentodiaz
11-13-2009, 07:41 AM
To all who commented - thanks!

Also, an apology - it sounded egotistical when I said I didn't need an editor. Every published author gets an editor and I know that. What I meant to indicate is that each manuscript has been checked and checked again for spelling, punctuation and grammar.

I also know it would help to have someone look over my work to point out inconsistencies and other faults. I recently helped an author on one of the websites I visit daily. His mss was riveting and I enjoyed it very much. However, there were a number of things I thought he could do to make it even better. Of course, each of us has our own style but we can all use a second pair of eyes.

So, I am going to post the 1st five pages of four of the novels - omitting the epic that will have to wait a while. If anyone wants to beta read the whole manuscript, please contact me and we'll work something out. You read mine and I'll read yours, even if it's romance.

Melville
11-13-2009, 05:46 PM
I think that there has been a lot of discussion about word count in this thread and though I'm not as familiar with the requirements for fantasy and/or commercial fiction, the "too many words/too long" advice is good advice and the points have been well made....

HOWEVER...

I think we're overlooking the fact that the poster listed his thriller at coming in at 86,000 words, a optimum word count for that genre. Perhaps the poster should concentrate on pounding THAT particular novel into shape for submission since it sounds like that one is closest to the mark. If he hooks an agent with a thriller, then he's halfway there...

auntybug
11-13-2009, 07:04 PM
I think we're overlooking the fact that the poster listed his thriller at coming in at 86,000 words, a optimum word count for that genre. Perhaps the poster should concentrate on pounding THAT particular novel into shape for submission since it sounds like that one is closest to the mark. If he hooks an agent with a thriller, then he's halfway there...


My thoughts are on that line too. I wrote a novel - queried it to death. Wrote another - queried it to death... and so on. My 5th novel was everyone's favorite so I finally stuck to that one & hit it even harder even though I completed 2 more novels while I did so. When I ran out of agents - I tried publishers and finally got a bite. It was the same query - same synopsis - same 1st 10 pages. I just finally got someone willing to look at it and give the "nobody" a shot.

Pick your favorite & continue to go for it & keep writing!

ChaosTitan
11-13-2009, 07:50 PM
What I meant to indicate is that each manuscript has been checked and checked again for spelling, punctuation and grammar.

I also know it would help to have someone look over my work to point out inconsistencies and other faults.

Bolding mine.

It isn't enough for a manuscript to be technically correct. Even a polished, grammatically perfect book can be boring, confusing, or just plain choppy. It always helps to have an extra set of eyes, especially when we are still learning and finding our way. And those eyes need to be impartial.

job
11-13-2009, 08:28 PM
it sounded egotistical when I said I didn't need an editor. Every published author gets an editor and I know that. What I meant to indicate is that each manuscript has been checked and checked again for spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Ah.

There are two kinds of editors.

One is a copyeditor. This person checks spelling, punctuation, grammar, and makes sure your heroine doesn't enter the ballroom wearing a green dress and then dance with the Duke wearing a blue one.

Saying the grammar and spelling of a ms has been checked is like saying one started the painting with high quality and well-stretched canvas. It is essential to the work, of course, but it is also massively trivial in determining whether something gets bought.

When I say 'editor', what I mean is a person with the skills of the acquiring editor at a publisher. Such an editor talks about characterization, pacing, plot structure, and stuff like that there. The important stuff.

An editor -- or, for a WIP, a Beta Reader -- is the person who says:

-- Remove the entire subplot with the younger sister and the Zombie.
-- I have no idea why Irene went off in a car with Harold. What's her motivation?
-- Nothing at all happens in Chapters Seven to Twelve. The story is better off without them.
-- This fight scene is confusing. Rewrite. Stay in Jim's POV.
-- There's too much sitting around and pondering. Take almost all of it out.
-- I find the dialog clunky and unbelievable. Nobody talks like that.
-- I don't find this outcome emotionally satisfying. I want Rita to knock him over the head with a chair.

With luck, you will find an insightful beta reader who can see if you've got substantive story issues.
This is the sort of 'editing' or 'critiquing' one might seek out if several years' work was not yet selling.

LuckyH
11-13-2009, 09:33 PM
I read a story about a writer, Neil Young, who, after a highly successful career as a banker and entrepreneur, decided to write a book, thinking that with his skills and education it would be a simple matter to get it published

To his great surprise, he found that it was impossible to find a literary agent and he poignantly writes that an agent gets something like 300 submissions a week and takes on no more than two new authors every year.

Being a wealthy man, Young has now started a company to publish ebooks, and appears ready to take on Amazon and Sony.

It illustrates just how hard it is to find an agent; from the above example, itís easier to start your own publishing company, or take on Amazon and Sony in the world of business.

Wordwrestler
11-13-2009, 10:57 PM
I read a story about a writer, Neil Young, who, after a highly successful career as a banker and entrepreneur, decided to write a book, thinking that with his skills and education it would be a simple matter to get it published

To his great surprise, he found that it was impossible to find a literary agent and he poignantly writes that an agent gets something like 300 submissions a week and takes on no more than two new authors every year.

Being a wealthy man, Young has now started a company to publish ebooks, and appears ready to take on Amazon and Sony.

It illustrates just how hard it is to find an agent; from the above example, it’s easier to start your own publishing company, or take on Amazon and Sony in the world of business.

Or, you could work tirelessly on improving your craft for years. (If you're going to make a profession of writing, you'll need those skills anyway) and get an agent in a few months to a couple of years after beginning the querying process, as seems to be the norm among those on this board. Of course it's difficult to get an agent, and not everyone will find the right fit even with high quality work, but typically it works out for those who are patient and persevere and never stop trying to improve.

ETA: This is not to say the OP hasn't been working hard, just that perhaps there's more work to be done, whether it means revising the fiction or the query letters, or more research on which agents to approach. Eventually, we're much more likely to succeed this way than by starting our own publishing companies.

It is hard to get an agent, as it should be. But it isn't the near-impossibility that we sometimes think it is.

LuckyH
11-14-2009, 12:51 AM
Or, you could work tirelessly on improving your craft for years. (If you're going to make a profession of writing, you'll need those skills anyway) and get an agent in a few months to a couple of years after beginning the querying process, as seems to be the norm among those on this board. Of course it's difficult to get an agent, and not everyone will find the right fit even with high quality work, but typically it works out for those who are patient and persevere and never stop trying to improve.

ETA: This is not to say the OP hasn't been working hard, just that perhaps there's more work to be done, whether it means revising the fiction or the query letters, or more research on which agents to approach. Eventually, we're much more likely to succeed this way than by starting our own publishing companies.

It is hard to get an agent, as it should be. But it isn't the near-impossibility that we sometimes think it is.

I agree with every wise word, but the Young story, which was in the business section of a newspaper, caught my eye because of the reference to difficulties in finding an agent, something Iíve read of many times over many years; itís not a recent phenomenon.

I was lucky, as my handle applies, in finding decent representation some years ago, and I believe it was sheer luck; I certainly wouldnít like to be in competition nowadays.

I donít know that many literary agents, but the ones I know have closed their books over the past few years. Probably because of technological advances, the internet, to be blunt, the volume of submissions has increased a thousand fold since the days of laboriously typing out 300 pages of double spaced writing and enclosing an expensive stamped and self-addressed envelope for the packageís return.

But it did concentrate the mind, rather than firing off emails all over the place.

Judg
11-14-2009, 02:31 AM
What I wonder about is if this Neil Young can actually write. Banker and entrepreneur are not exactly a focused preparation for becoming a writer.

MGraybosch
11-14-2009, 02:50 AM
What I wonder about is if this Neil Young can actually write. Banker and entrepreneur are not exactly a focused preparation for becoming a writer.

Neither is computer programmer, database administrator, or system administrator -- but I'm not letting that stop me. ;)

Judg
11-14-2009, 03:12 AM
No reason you should either, but this fellow seems to think that they were an appropriate preparation. But maybe I misunderstood. I don't think they prevent him from being a good writer, but they are totally meaningless on a writer's resume, unless he's writing a business book.

DrZoidberg
11-14-2009, 05:00 AM
Hello, Lvcabbie. I wrote three novels, which, in retrospect, I know now are unpublishable. They weren't honest enough. From feedback from those I learned to turn my soul inside out, to share my feelings to the point where it hurts. I got a publisher before my fourth was even finished, and got it published. I know I promised you to beta-read my latest novel.... it's coming. I promise.... if you still want to :) People who work hard and are self critical get lucky!

backslashbaby
11-14-2009, 02:24 PM
Maybe no cigar quite yet, but I bet you'll spruce up several of those works and do just fine :) It's only after you've tried places like AW and editors' blogs that you can finesse a work sometimes, I think.

Maxinquaye
11-14-2009, 02:39 PM
Neither is computer programmer, database administrator, or system administrator -- but I'm not letting that stop me. ;)

Neither was press officer for Sellafield nuclear power plant.

I think Pratchett's done all right.

Sargentodiaz
11-15-2009, 01:48 AM
Hello, Lvcabbie. I wrote three novels, which, in retrospect, I know now are unpublishable. They weren't honest enough. From feedback from those I learned to turn my soul inside out, to share my feelings to the point where it hurts. I got a publisher before my fourth was even finished, and got it published. I know I promised you to beta-read my latest novel.... it's coming. I promise.... if you still want to :) People who work hard and are self critical get lucky!

It's frustrating to me as I'm not new to writing. Of course, I wrote for myself for about thirty years - at least fiction. I wrote a lot of technical military type stuff but that's a lot different than fiction.
The five novels I've mentioned are the result of the last six years since I got another computer - I went for about five years without one. I did a change over from one system to another and lost about 300k words of stuff that didn't get from one to the other.

I'm also in the midst of writing my memois - 70 years ranging from WWII to present and a stint of 4 years in a working ranch that was also a foster home. I sent them a short piece off the cuff that they love and want to include in their newsletter.

Anyhow, I'm not about to give up on these and will serioysly consider all suggestions.

Trauntj
11-15-2009, 05:32 AM
as others have said, 168K is definitely too much unless its Harry Potter (where the added length is expected) if you've written all those novels in such a short time (you said you jumped back and forth, completing some while writing others) perhaps the subject matter isn't as inviting or interesting as you thought due to trying to focus on too much at once?

I only found one of those summaries interesting to me personally, but everyone has different tastes so take that with a grain of salt. if you can't find requests for even partial material, perhaps you should just learn from it and move on. think about it from a customer's point of view. if you saw that in the store, would you pick it up from the title and description alone or laugh at its cliched outlook? Taking that description and forming an possible story in your head in an instant, and deciding if it would be worth the purchase?

I'm writing two novels right now, and I'm being my own devils advocate for everything, making it interesting but still inviting as possible. if I see something that sounds bad from the general public's perspective, I either throw it out or tweak it to make it better.

Me&BacchusGoIntoABar
11-15-2009, 06:22 AM
cabbie's 116K is a normal length for a fantasy novel, isn't it?

Wordwrestler
11-15-2009, 07:56 AM
cabbie's 116K is a normal length for a fantasy novel, isn't it?

That's definitely not a high enough word count for that to be the sole reason for queries not leading anywhere. Though in the case of the 168 K novel, this could be the case.

Nya RAyne
11-15-2009, 09:18 AM
Post your query and let's take from there, because even if the word count is high if the query is good, you should be getting some requests for partials.

Sargentodiaz
11-15-2009, 11:33 PM
I cannot thank those who've responded enough! I received great comments on all four pieces and stored them away for the revision process.
Because it's my favorite, I've started revising SONORA SYMPHONY and posted the first chapter on that thread in the Other SYW section [am unsure of the genre and didn't know where else to put it].
As I stated therel, I WOULD LOVE response and perhaps someone to beta read the whole thing.

maestrowork
11-15-2009, 11:57 PM
It illustrates just how hard it is to find an agent; from the above example, it’s easier to start your own publishing company, or take on Amazon and Sony in the world of business.

Does it?

Have you tried starting and running a business?

Or maybe Mr. Young is simply a better banker/businessman than he is a writer. Seems like running a business is what he does best, and that's what he ends up doing.

And just because he publishes and sells his own books doesn't mean people are buying and reading them either... he simply tosses out the middle people (the agents, the editors, the "publishers" except himself). But no amount of business savviness is going to guarantee readership. It still depends on the products.

Somehow we tend to think that just because someone writes a book, it's publishable. Not necessarily true. Someone can write 1000 books and all 1000 are unpublishable. It's possible.

It's like saying everyone who opens their mouths to sing are good enough to go on stage and make an album.

Sometimes an outside perspective is a wonderful thing. It keeps our feet on the ground while we try to reach the sky. Otherwise, we may find ourselves riding on a lot of hot air.

(of course, you can do anything you want if you decide to self-publish: music, albums, paintings, videos, whatever -- but is it really that "easy"? Nothing is just "easy.")

Linda Adams
11-16-2009, 12:11 AM
Does it?

Someone can write 1000 books and all 1000 are unpublishable. It's possible.

It's like saying everyone who opens their mouths to sing are good enough to go on stage and make an album.

Very true. When I was shopping around my cowritten Civil War thriller, we didn't get any bites from agents. We ended up in a critique group and discovered--though oddly, not from the critiquers--that there was a major flaw in the story. It showed up in the first chapter, the query, and the synopsis.

At that point, we'd already started a second manuscript, and it was shocking to realize that we were going down exactly the same path with it.