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android415
07-23-2010, 01:49 AM
What does a partial request even look like, fellow AWers?

I'm feeling a little down. I'm going to keep going, I'm sure, because I really want to be published. But you know, I got another rejection today. We all know what that feels like.

But seriously, what does a partial request look like?

"YES. I LOVE IT. SEND ME MOAR CHAPTERS" :D

Phaeal
07-23-2010, 05:13 PM
The first version of my current subber garnered three partial requests and lots of form rejections. The partials went nowhere. No one offered any concrete suggestions. Not much fun, but the point is that I analyzed the situation and came to the conclusion:

-- The query letter wasn't totally lame, but it needed to be pepped up.

-- In order to pep up the query letter, the book itself had to change.

-- Which the failed partials were already screaming at me.

A full rewrite of the novel, including a major premise change and all new, much faster paced opening chapters, and I'm now six fulls in.

What I learned: Even the screaming silence of form rejections can teach you to listen for that inner voice that says, "Whoa, maybe I still have work to do." Because that voice is always whispering the truth. We just have to notice it.

Of course, there will come a time when your inner voice whispers, "I've done all I can with this." In which case, you either persevere until you've exhausted all possibilities, or you retire the work for the moment.

Hope? Hell yeah, I'm feeding you hope. Could be you're just jumping the gun on the dejection, and the requests will follow. Or it could be that there's something you can do to improve your chances! A ball in your court, the power in your hands -- now there's hope!

Jamesaritchie
07-23-2010, 06:01 PM
What does a partial request even look like, fellow AWers?

I'm feeling a little down. I'm going to keep going, I'm sure, because I really want to be published. But you know, I got another rejection today. We all know what that feels like.

But seriously, what does a partial request look like?

"YES. I LOVE IT. SEND ME MOAR CHAPTERS" :D

Well, I hope it doesn't read "moar" chapters.

The good news is that if no one is requesting sample chapters or a complete manuscript, it's your query letter being rejected, not your book.

Red-Green
07-23-2010, 08:19 PM
Typically a partial request looks like this:

"This looks interesting. Please send me the first 50 pages."

The key words are "looks interesting." That's the job of your query. To make your book look interesting. If you're not getting partial requests, either your query needs work or you're sending it to the wrong agents. Or both.

android415
07-24-2010, 05:29 AM
Thanks for the yummy hope, all. I shall keep trucking.

Miss Plum
07-24-2010, 10:57 AM
My latest request:


Me: [at conclusion of meticulously crafted, finely honed, grammatically perfect query letter explaining genre, scope of project, and plot in three elegant paragraphs] "May I send more materials for your consideration?"

Agent: "please do"

Steam&Ink
07-24-2010, 01:36 PM
What I learned: Even the screaming silence of form rejections can teach you to listen for that inner voice that says, "Whoa, maybe I still have work to do." Because that voice is always whispering the truth. We just have to notice it.


^^QFT.

I'm sure many of us have been guilty of a little premature querying, when the novel was more on its "fourth draft" than "finished product". I once queried a book that was so "second draft", I now almost want to re-email the agents and apologise for wasting their time!

Not to say your book isn't perfectly formed and gloriously polished - but do consider looking ti over again, especially if you've left it for three or so months. If it is the case that your MS is lacking, that may be coming through in the query letter.

Jamesaritchie
07-24-2010, 06:51 PM
^^QFT.

If it is the case that your MS is lacking, that may be coming through in the query letter.

Never touch a novel until someone says it needs touching. A bad query has nothing to do with a bad novel.

MsJudy
07-24-2010, 08:13 PM
Never touch a novel until someone says it needs touching. A bad query has nothing to do with a bad novel.

Never?

Nothing to do with it?

Hmm...

All I can say is, I hope nobody is actually listening to you.

Wayne K
07-24-2010, 08:39 PM
Have you tried posting the query letter in SYW?

People here are very helpful

Jamesaritchie
07-24-2010, 10:35 PM
Never?

Nothing to do with it?

Hmm...

All I can say is, I hope nobody is actually listening to you.

Then you should also hope no one is listening to Robert Heinlein, who says the same thing in his rules for writing. I know darned few writers who succeed by tinkering.

Amadan
07-24-2010, 10:39 PM
Then you should also hope no one is listening to Robert Heinlein, who says the same thing in his rules for writing. I know darned few writers who succeed by tinkering.

There's a difference between (endless) tinkering and doing revisions. I seriously doubt even Heinlein just cranked out first drafts and sent them straight to the editor.

Steam&Ink
07-25-2010, 01:09 AM
Never touch a novel until someone says it needs touching. A bad query has nothing to do with a bad novel.

I'm not sure what you're trying to say, here. At what point does this rule kick in?
Most professional writers do several drafts before they think their MS is ready to query. At what point does it become an untouchable "novel"?

My point is that sometimes there are major plot issues in the early drafts which need to be resolved. If a query has been sent out too soon, it may reflect this. So i have to say a bad query can have something to do with a bad novel.

Again, android415, obvioulsy I'm not saying your MS definitely isn't ready for querying. I was just offering it as a possibiliity to consider. :)

Drachen Jager
07-25-2010, 05:25 AM
Heinllein's rules for writing speculative fiction (published in 1947).

1. you must write.
2. you must finish what you start.
3. you must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order.
4. you must put it on the market.
5. you must keep it on the market until sold.

Note rule #2 comes before rule #3. Seems to me he's saying, "Don't tinker endlessly to no good purpose." Because it's not really finished until it's been through a series of drafts and beta reads and revisions.

Note also that this applies to the writing market of speculative fiction in 1947, which I can only imagine is very different from the current market for general novels etc.

On the whole though I don't think that advice coming from someone who's never been in a position similar to mine makes much sense for me to follow. Especially since rules 2 and 3 contradict themselves by your reading.

Things have changed in sixty years, might as well go to Poe or Verne for advice on how to enter today's market.

Jamesaritchie
07-25-2010, 07:52 PM
There's a difference between (endless) tinkering and doing revisions. I seriously doubt even Heinlein just cranked out first drafts and sent them straight to the editor.

Who said anything about first drafts? But when the book is finished, and you start querying, leave it alone until someone in power asks for specific changes.

But Heinlein did exactly what you doubt. He write first drafts and they sold. This is not uncommon.

Jamesaritchie
07-25-2010, 08:03 PM
Heinllein's rules for writing speculative fiction (published in 1947).

1. you must write.
2. you must finish what you start.
3. you must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order.
4. you must put it on the market.
5. you must keep it on the market until sold.

Note rule #2 comes before rule #3. Seems to me he's saying, "Don't tinker endlessly to no good purpose." Because it's not really finished until it's been through a series of drafts and beta reads and revisions.

Note also that this applies to the writing market of speculative fiction in 1947, which I can only imagine is very different from the current market for general novels etc.

On the whole though I don't think that advice coming from someone who's never been in a position similar to mine makes much sense for me to follow. Especially since rules 2 and 3 contradict themselves by your reading.

Things have changed in sixty years, might as well go to Poe or Verne for advice on how to enter today's market.

No, rules two and three do not contradict themselves.Yes, he is saying don't tinker endless, but he was also saying that you need to get it done, and when it is done, leave it alone until someone asks for changes.

Once you start querying, do not go back and make more changes. Leave it alone, and work on the next novel. Either it's good enough as it is, good enough for an editor to ask for specific changes, or it never will be good enough, no matter how much time you waste on it.

And these rules had nothing to do with writing speculative fiction, or writing any other kind of fiction. These are business rules, not actual writing rules, and they're even more valid today than they were when first written.

One thing remains absolutely true. If you do not follow these business rules, you will almost certainly fail as a writer.

Robert J. Sawyer, a current bestselling, award-winning writer, explains why very well. http://www.sfwriter.com/ow05.htm

Jamesaritchie
07-25-2010, 08:09 PM
I'm not sure what you're trying to say, here. At what point does this rule kick in?
Most professional writers do several drafts before they think their MS is ready to query. At what point does it become an untouchable "novel"?

My point is that sometimes there are major plot issues in the early drafts which need to be resolved. If a query has been sent out too soon, it may reflect this. So i have to say a bad query can have something to do with a bad novel.

Again, android415, obvioulsy I'm not saying your MS definitely isn't ready for querying. I was just offering it as a possibiliity to consider. :)

Most professional writers do several drafts? Wanna bet? Some do several drafts, but most do a first draft, and then what amounts to a one pass secoond draft. At most, they usually do a second draft, and a clean up third draft.

But however many drafts you do, this rule kicks in when the novel goes out the door and to an agent or an editor.

A bad query is bad because the writer has no clue how to write a good query. And, more important, it's almost impossible to fix a bad novel. If this could be done, an editor's life would be much, much easier. In thirty years, I've yet to see a bad novel fixed. I've seen good novels made better, but never a bad novel turned into a good novel.

Nor, for that matter, a good novel that the writer needed to mess with before an editor asked for specific changes.

Amadan
07-25-2010, 08:23 PM
Robert J. Sawyer, a current bestselling, award-winning writer, explains why very well. http://www.sfwriter.com/ow05.htm

From that link:



This is the one that got Heinlein in trouble with creative-writing teachers. Perhaps a more appropriate wording would have been, "Don't tinker endlessly with your story."


He goes on to make exactly the point I made above. Neither he (nor Heinlein) was saying that your first draft should be left as is. He's saying there's a point at which revision (fixing plot holes, cleaning up dialog, cutting unnecessary parts, etc.) becomes tinkering (rewording sentences, agonizing over which adjective to use, adding and deleting and adding again a particular line).

The key words are: don't change your story except to editorial order if your story is close to publishable.

What it takes to get to that point will vary depending on the author. Some may indeed write publishable first drafts (though I doubt anyone does this consistently), but I think you're wrong in claiming that no successful writers go through multiple revisions before sending it off to an editor.

MsJudy
07-25-2010, 08:37 PM
If your book is close to publishable, then of course you shouldn't keep tinkering with it. But if you realize after you've already sent out queries that 1) It could be better and 2) You know how to accomplish that, then why on earth wouldn't you do the work to make it a better book??? Before querying further?

Just because Heinlein said something, doesn't make it the rule for absolutely every would-be author in the universe. Sorry.

And a bad query can have everything to do with a bad novel. Writers who do not really understand how to structure a plot usually have a very hard time writing a good query. (been there, done that, not trying to put anyone down here.) Those people can usually tinker and tweak their queries to death, but they aren't really fixing the problem--unclear motivation, not enough at stake, passive protagonist, etc. The query reveals the problem with the novel.

Of course it's possible to have a really good novel and write a terrible query. And it's possible to have a bad novel, but polish up a query that makes it sound promising. But sometimes, the query is bad because the author hasn't thought through everything he/she needs to figure out in the novel.

Drachen Jager
07-26-2010, 01:02 AM
The rules for what works for one well published author 60 years ago cannot be blindly applied to all (or most) unpublished or barely published authors today. It might not even have reflected reality for most struggling authors in HIS day. He's only reflecting on his OWN methods and experience. It's a different world today.

I'm sure Heinlein didn't have any good advice on social networking either.

Shakespeare's advice on writing might involve making sure you have enough quills on hand before you start, how far back do you have to go before you realize it's not directly comparable Ritchie?

android415
07-26-2010, 02:03 AM
Have you tried posting the query letter in SYW?

People here are very helpful

I did! I posted one of my queries there, and they helped me so much. Not only did I reconstruct that particular query, but I reconstructed some other ones, and I can confidently say that my query writing is a LOT better now. I can understand why my first 15 rejections happened.

But if I keep getting rejections at this point, then I won't be so sure. I'm lucky enough to have these agents respond back really, really quickly (actually, that might be a minus, depending on how you look at it), so that's why the turn around is so quick

Drachen Jager
07-26-2010, 08:11 AM
You just need to work on the query some more. Make sure that your story is one that lends it's self to good query writing. If it doesn't the problem might be in your story and maybe that's something you can revisit. Modifying your story to make it a stronger query will probably make it a better story too.

Steam&Ink
07-26-2010, 10:07 AM
Most professional writers do several drafts? Wanna bet? Some do several drafts, but most do a first draft, and then what amounts to a one pass secoond draft. At most, they usually do a second draft, and a clean up third draft.


OK - I don't want to derail this thread, so let's just leave it as that: most writers do two or three drafts, and some writers do more. A first-time writer will probably need to be more careful with edits than a professional writer.

Android, as well as your query letter, there could be several other contributing factors. What genre/market are you querying? Are you querying agents who specialise in your area? Has your MS been read by betas?

Drachen Jager
07-26-2010, 10:55 PM
Android: I've had probably about as many rejections on one book as just about anyone here. After about ten different queries and probably a half dozen versions of each I've FINALLY found one that works.

It's all in the query (and the first few chapters).

Work work work on your query. Passing QLH isn't good enough, three or four of mine passed but got no interest. Don't ask the QLH people to critique your query until they're SOLD. They will only help you fix up a bad query letter and make it into a poor query letter, they can't do the wholesale re-writing needed to make it work.

So, write a query, post it on QLH and ask people NOT to critique but just tell you if THEY would make a request. Until you hit a pretty good percentage of yes answers don't bother refining that query. Posting a poll is the quickest way to get a lot of yes/no responses.

That's my two cents anyhow.