Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Danger of Publishing Blogs

I was reading through some of the posts on my own blog as well as those of my colleagues and started to think about some of the dangers to authors that can occur because of these blogs.

Oftentimes we are asked to give advice, guidance, or further explanation as to some of the biggest causes of rejection we see, and certainly there are a number of things that pop up again and again. Some of these include telling and not showing your story, stiff and awkward dialogue, or lack of description. So how can knowing what often sets us off be dangerous to you? It’s dangerous when you try to generalize too much.

Sometimes, for example, a lack of description can be a good thing. Sometimes it can set a certain pace and tone. Have you ever read Robert B. Parker, especially his Spenser series? Parker has a unique style of writing that is clipped, quick, and full of energy. There is just enough description, but not too much.

My fear is that by writing about why we often reject things we are giving authors the impression that it’s just that easy. That there are only three to five reasons for rejection, and if you can get past those you’ll easily sell your book. Nothing is ever that easy, and when reading these agent blogs it’s important to remember that. I also fear that you’re getting the impression that publishing is that formulaic. That there’s a magic guideline out there and that if you find it and follow it you’ll have written a bestseller. Alas, folks, if it were that easy we’d be blogging from the beaches on our own private Agent Island.

Each agent has a unique perspective. We all work differently, we all have different tastes, opinions, and ideas. What I think might make an amazing and dynamic query letter might not work for Agent Kristin or Nathan Bransford. What Nathan sees as an instant rejection might not be the same for me.

So what am I saying? I’m asking you to of course keep reading our blogs. We enjoy writing them and enjoy hearing from you. At the same time, though, I’m asking you to understand that each of these blogs is the opinion of one agent in a sea of many. And it’s one voice, one opinion. I am not a goddess and never pretended to be. I’m just an agent who likes to share my opinion, what I know and what I’ve learned from 15+ years in this business.

So take it all with a grain of salt. Learn what you can, but write your own book and sometimes, just sometimes, forget all of the rules and let yourself go. Those are the books and the queries that really end up being the winners.