Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Stand Proud

Lately there has been a rash of queries that start out by saying things like, “Since this is my first query it’s very likely I’m getting it all wrong” or “I’m not the strongest writer in the world” or “I know how busy you are so I hope you can take the time to read my query,” and none of these statements or other similar negative statements are helping your cause.

Think of it this way: You go to buy a house and the realtor takes you out to see the one she thinks you should buy. It fits your price range and has everything you asked for. On the way there she turns to you and says, “Well, it’s not the best house in the world, especially with how many houses we’re driving by right now, but I think it’s definitely good enough for someone to live in and it seems to fit your qualifications.” Are you really going to fall in love with that house the minute you walk in the door or are you more likely to see nothing but the flaws? Are you even going to want to bother seeing the house after that glowing recommendation or would you rather spend the rest of the sunny afternoon doing something you enjoy?

A query that starts out by telling an agent how not up to par the book is has the same affect. I’ll tell you right now that if you can’t stand by your book and tell me it’s the greatest thing I’m going to read all day then I’m not going to bother asking for more. If you, the author, the book’s biggest advocate, can’t convince me to drop everything I’m doing right now and stay up all night to read this next great work, then how is anyone else going to believe in your book? That doesn’t mean you should actually say, “This is the greatest book ever,” because overselling never works either, but you do need to stand proud and confidently by your book and your query. If you really feel it’s subpar then you shouldn’t bother submitting. Subpar is not going to get published.

Since this is the year of no excuses I’m not going to accept anyone complaining that you are not salespeople and that’s the whole point of getting an agent, because if you expect to be a published author you better darn well learn how to become a salesperson. While I’m more than happy to take over the reins when it comes to selling your book to publishers, I am certainly not going to follow you around all day so you can talk your book up to potential readers or bookstore salespeople. Buzz is the best form of sales and the one person who can create the best buzz about a book is the author, so start now, with your query, and remember, every single time you talk about your book, from the first query to all your readers, you need to stand proud.



Anonymous said...

The flip side of that are the agents asking for a marketing plan in the query letter. I'm making a list of agents to query now, and anyone that wants a marketing plan upfront is axed (in addition to those who don't take email queries). I can understand marketing plans for non-fiction, but novels? I mean, seriously, what's an unpublished, unheard of novelist's marketing plan? "I'm going to walk the earth proclaiming my novel's worthiness." Sure, we all want to get rich without working, but sarcasm aside, what are they asking for here?

Dan Holloway said...

This makes such an important point on neither underselling nor overselling. we writers often forget that it is even MORE important in our query letter and synopsis than our ms to show not tell. We sometimes think show not tell applies only to fiction, but it doesn't. I would give examples, but can do no better than point everyone to Nathan Bransford's lates post, http://blog.nathanbransford.com/
where he has put up a superb query letter that "shows" why the book needs to be requested.

What do I mean by "show" in this context? I mean, demonstrate the market for the book; grip the agent with your hook; demonstrate what makes you the best person to write the book. The letter on Nathan's site does all that.

The same goes for synopsis - whcih should NOT be this happened then this happened - don't list the events, draw the emotional contours of your book - link your scenes through your protagonist's motivation.

Anonymous said...

Only someone who doesn't know the statistics of how impossible it is to get published would say something as inane as " “I’m not the strongest writer in the world” in a query.


I'd think it'd be the opposite -- writers building up their book as the new Great American Novel when in reality its unreadable. Though, I'm sure you get those queries too.

Aimlesswriter said...

Wonderful advice, as always. Thank you.
A wise woman once told me to put my ego in the backseat. Meaning not to put the self doubt or self importance first. There's creativity and business and you have to handle both to be successful.

Hillsy said...

Job interview: Not too shy, not too gobby. Quietly confident and professional gives you the best chance (unless the interview is for big brother then drop some acid or LCD, rewire your arrogance gland to the mains and drink 400 cans of redbull).

Nuff said.

Becke Davis said...

I hadn't really thought about selling books in the real estate sense, but there is a definite connection, especially in a tight market.

I'm starting to think kismet must play a part in connecting authors and agents, because the query step is a lot like trying to catch someone's interest through a multiple listing book. Only we aren't the house-buyers -- we're the sellers. And we built the house.

Flipping the scenario works with Jessica's metaphor, too. Where an established homebuilder might sell a home on spec, someone new on the scene is going to have to market the heck out of their product before anyone's going to feel safe about taking a chance on him/her.

It also works from the seller's perspective. We're not going to put our house -- and our new homebuilding business -- in the hands of a realtor that doesn't have the same vision.

That's why I hesitate to send out multiple agent submissions, as I've been advised to do. At National, there was one agent I had met at another conference -- I kept running into her (and she was about the only agent I did run into). She's nice and friendly and represents some authors I like, but I can't get past the fact that, when I met her last year, she was only accepting submissions by snail mail because she wasn't comfortable with email. Even if she's taking email submissions now, I know we don't think alike.

Jessica's blog and others like it let agents put themselves "out there," so we can get to know them. This is her self-marketing plan, in a way, and the fact that we're here shows that it's working.

Like agents who blog, authors who establish an online presence through blogs or social networking are building their "houses" in a busy, upmarket neighborhood. It's true whether you're selling books or houses -- location, location, location.

The fact remains, though -- we can market the heck out of our books, but it all comes down to our writing skills in the end.

ScarlettDeNigro said...

I'm a big believer in "Fake it 'til you make it!" Thanks for letting me know how easy it is going to be to steam roll the competition...hahaha

CKHB said...

Authors need to think of it like dating... is it going to help your cause if you show up and say, "I've never dated anyone as good as you before, and I have some issues, and I know you're really busy, but do you want to go out on a date, even though I'll probably screw it up"?


Similarly, are you going to be successful if you say, "Baby, you're going to want to marry me and have my babies after just one date, and if you don't agree, I'll email you daily to try to find out why not"?

Double no.

Finally, are you going to get that all-important date if you sit around whining about how unfair the dating market is, and why should you have to figure out this "perfect medium" of self-presentation, when everyone should just love you the way you are?

Triple no.

Here is an awesome post that comparing pitching an editor to dating, and explains why so many authors fall flat.

CKHB said...

Argh. "Compares" not "comparing." I've been making posting errors like that all morning...

Dan Holloway said...

"I'm starting to think kismet must play a part in connecting authors and agents"

Yes, and it certainly behoves authors to do their shopping as much as it does agents to do their slushing. That bit about interviews being for the applicant to size out the employer as well as vice versa is true, and no more so, like you say than between agent and author.

Because I write in a very niche field (literary fiction set in Eastern Europe with cross-cultural appeal) I always knew who my ideal agent would be, and because they specialise in that kind of book, I didn't have to make a song and dance about why they'd like it. I just had to show them what was there, because I knew it was their kind of thing. I got a request for the full straight back. Unfortunately they said it just wasn't commercial right now (I guess Hungarian-Chinese lesbian coming of age stories will never sell tens of thousands) but they did ask me to submit anything else I write in future to them, and said they wantedd to build a relationship with me.

Anonymous said...

I disagree that the metaphor works both ways. A good real estate agent will market the house. It's the seller's job to keep up with the house, even before it's on the market, and to attract a good real estate agent. Sure, the seller might play some role, and the proactive seller certainly will attempt their own marketing. But as a novelist, my intial marketing is writing a phenomenal novel and a stand-up query letter to attract agents. Once a publisher is on board, I'm down to help in whatever way I can to market the novel. But the idea that I would have some upfront marketing plan for my novel is outrageous. That's lazy outsourcing. On the same note, why would I want to waste space in my query letter to illustrate the audience for my book? In reading the premise in the query letter, a literary professional ought be able to determine that audience on their own. If they are unable to do that, I certainly don't need their services. Just so, if there is no audience for my book, the professional ought be able to determine that from the premise, and shouldn't need my services.

Dan Holloway said...

The thing is, anonymous 9.25, if I don't really know at whom my book is aimed, there's probably something about it that I haven't got quite straight in my head, and the confusion may well show in my writing. And if I DO know who my readers are, then I know how to reach them. So I think this is a perfectly reasonable expectation (again, I'd point people to the letter in Nathan's column).

Kim Lionetti said...

"On the same note, why would I want to waste space in my query letter to illustrate the audience for my book? In reading the premise in the query letter, a literary professional ought be able to determine that audience on their own. If they are unable to do that, I certainly don't need their services. "

The problem with this perspective, is that it gives the impression of an author who's living in a vacuum and happy to be there. A writer writing only for him/herself. Agents and editors are immediately attracted to a query letter that displays an understanding of the business, a desire to connect with a certain reading audience and market savvy. A query that shows the author has given a lot of thought to building a career and isn't just throwing an idea out there is going to create a much better impression.

Becke Davis said...

Sure, in an ideal world, all an author would have to do is write a phenomenal book and wait for agents and editors to sit up and take notice. But, in publishing as in real estate, things are far from ideal. Authors may have to step out of their comfort zone to generate buzz, but it's to their own benefit to do so. There's nothing demeaning about marketing your writing -- when things are tough and publishers are cutting back on marketing, it's either self-promote or watch your book tank.

Anonymous said...

I can understand that from a writer's prespective. But from a business perspective, the agent/writer relationship is strange. We're both trying to sell ourselves to the other, though the odds are stacked against the writer. Shouldn't a good agent be able to determine the audience for a book without the writer making suggestions? Furthermore, even if I make claims that my novel has an a priori audience, isn't the agent going to make judgements about potential audience based on the premise or whatever pages they agree to read? Query letters should be about the novel and the writer, not marketing or audience. The premise should show why the book should be requested.

Anonymous said...

This isn't about doing things that are demeaning. It's about being real. A book will have an audience, large or small. Book professionals, in looking at a premise or a full, should be able to determine that audience without the writer's help. It's not that I don't know what my audience is, it's that I shouldn't have to spell it out for agents. Also, a writer and his or her novel, will have a marketing potential. Once there is a publisher, that marketing strategy should be determined with everyone on board, writer, editor, agent, publicist... whatever. Give me an example of a solid marketing strategy for a novel you can fit in a one-page query?

Mira said...

Jessica, I hear what you're saying about believing in your work, but the reality is that it's my vulnerability and sensitive nature that make me a writer in the first place.

I'm a terrible salesman. Just awful. It's completely adverse to my personality. If you wanted to concoct a job that was the epitome of everything I'm not good at: salesman it would be.

In fact, most of the things that make me a good writer: introversion, comfort with solitude, commitment to a certain intellectual integrity, these are things that make me an awful salesman.

So, I know the industry is moving more and more toward using authors to market - I think it's a mistake. It's not a personality match for most of us.

I think a better way to go is to encourage authors to write something that is so good, it sells itself.

Mira said...

Wow. I re-read my post, and thought, oh no! I said I was a good writer. How could I say that???? Maybe I'm not. Maybe I suck. Maybe now no one will talk to me because I'm so all puffed up and think I'm a good writer.


Dan Holloway said...

Anon 9.41 What we do need to sell to the agent is that we're someone they would be happy to have a relationship with over a period of years - and a large part of that is about our professionalism. So something as basic as showing we understand our book fits the agent's list and we haven't just picked them out of a hat has got to matter. It also shows we understand othe requirements of the genre in which we write - which has got to mean it will be easier working through edits.

We also need to be clear we're singing from the same hymn sheet. I write for emo teenagers (and you'd be surprised how many of those DO like Hugarian-Chinese lesbian coming of age stories!). My last book also attracted a middle-aged female demographic, because there is a strong minor character (my MC's mother) with a complex backstory of her own. I want to make sure an agent understands that I'm going to do everything in my power to improve the book if that menas cutting and adding to drive it in the Douglas Coupland/Brett Easton Elli direction. If they want to push it Joanne Harris way, though, forget it.

It's a question, then, of showing your professionalism (to use that godawful word, your "clubability"), and of laying your cards out straight and saving everyone's time.

Anonymous said...

Mira: great point.
I'm sure agents and publishers are all looking for that savy writer who does everything. We all want a handout; it's natural. I'd love it if I could get a line of agents and publishers outside my door, waiting to interview with me and woo me and my novel.
You want to find great novels(commercial, literary, whatever), don't look for great salespeople.

Aimlesswriter said...

I'm not a salesman type person either but the fact is if we want to be writers we have to face that part of the job. We have to push our book to bookstores, do signings and schmooze the public because if we don't sell our book no one will buy and there will be no reason for the publisher to want another from us.
So we do what we have to do.

Anonymous said...

Dan, here is where I agree with you: showing an agent why you chose them. That shows professionalism, that you aren't just willy-nilly emailing agents. You've done your research.
But it's got to go both ways. I don't want an agent to sign me because they think I'll just do whatever they tell me to do, or because they think it's going to be really easy to make a quick book based on my "marketing strategy." I want them to sign me because I have a novel they believe in, they believe THEY can sell.

Anonymous said...

Aimless writer:
As the book is being published, a writer has to step it up, no doubt (website, blogs, readings, whatever). But I refuse to outline in a query letter my audience and a marketing strategy as an unknown writer. If it's that easy, why do I need an agent and a publisher? Why not just publish it myself and market the thing to my audience?

Dan Holloway said...

"Give me an example of a solid marketing strategy for a novel you can fit in a one-page query?"

Apologies to those in the US - the shops and publications mentioned are UK ones - I don't know if they are also around in the US

"Songs from the Other Side of the Wall is aimed at readers of Murakami and Coupland, teenagers who frequent sites like Suicide Girls, and readers of Indie magazines like Bad Idea and Super Super. It would sit perfectly in the book section of HMV and alongside the "fiction in translation" selections in Waterstone's" (from my actual query)

It's not a full strategy, but I think the outlets and publications make it clear that I understand what such a strategy would look like.

Vivi Anna said...

Love the post Jessica.

You gave us a pow yesterday and now comes the bop.

It's a one two punch.

Mame said...

It all matters. If you can sell yourself, you can sell your book. If you can name your audience and give titles similar to your own, it means you know the industry. Marketing is vital, schools, libraries, bookstores, radio, tv, you name it. If you can convince someone you can plow through and shine, they know your book has a better chance of success. I think the quibbling is ridiculous. Become a salesperson, become a marketer, become a socialite in the book world. How bad do you want it?

Debra Lynn Shelton said...

Amen, sista! We writers should be in love with our work and not afraid to show it. Enthusiasm is contagious.;-)

Anonymous said...

Dan, now that's a pretty specific audience, and it sounds zippy. I can see where that would give weight to your query. I just think a savy agent should be able to determine that on their own. Regardless of predictions about audience (whether from the writer or publisher), doesn't it come down to whether or not the book is exciting? The business of creativity is tough. You strangle it or have unrealistic expectations from the artist... you'll struggle. I don't think I'm being idealistic. Isn't publishing on the rocks?

Hillsy said...

Enthusiam is contagious, but sometimes also nauseous.

Maybe it's because I'm English.

Dan Holloway said...

Hi Anon - yeah, that last bit is very true. The whole industry has got a lot of changing to do to avoid finding itself in the grips of young upstart presses and collectives. I've done a whole lot of blogging and article writing on how the book world needs a flatter business model to avoid being outflanked, but that's another issue altogether (there's a long article at http://streamwriting.com/blog/?p=116 that sounds daft and jargonese but obviously got enough ears for PBS News Hour to contact me for a chinwag about the future of publishing). I often jest that someone should send everyone in the industry "A Brief History of Time Warner" to remind them what happens when a traditional, verticallystructured industry takes its eye off the ball at a key moment.

Aimee - lovely to see you here - we met at Pitch Parlour the other day.

Anonymous said...

As per the dating metaphor, I'll flip that around too. Our society contrives rules for dating that, if followed, will lead to everlasting love. I think trying to keep these rules in perspective makes it all the harder. Are we really paying attention to the rules of dating, even if they are followed in some rudimentry way, when we are falling in love? When was the last time you heard Jill say, "I fell in love with Jack because he waited three days to call me after our first date."?
If an agent finds a book they love, my guess is they aren't hesitating because the writer's not sure how to market the thing or wasn't upfront about their audience.

Anonymous said...

So, I know the industry is moving more and more toward using authors to market - I think it's a mistake. It's not a personality match for most of us.

WIth more author promotion moving to the Internet, you'll find plenty of opportunities to sell your work online using your writing skills: Blogging, blog tours and interviews, Red Room, Facebook, etc.

Anonymous said...

Dan, great article. I think the comparison to music is apt, though I think the sad reality is that there are fewer oppurtunities for novelists to make money outside of selling their work.
Sad that publishing can't learn from the music industry.

Anonymous said...

Who says all writers are shy?
If I had a novel or two to my name (with agents now), I'd love to market the hell out of it/them!
I can't imagine anything more fun than book signings and promo parties...but then I'm a journalist with a PR/marketing background. Sign me up!

Kim Lionetti said...


When you illustrate in your query letter that you understand your audience and the market, you're not doing our job for us, you're giving us some context. By comparing your work to another work or author, you're not only describing the premise of the book, but evoking its tone and appeal, as well as your own understanding of the industry.

It's very difficult to write a blurb that can convey all of that without using the current market for context. That's not to say it can't be done. I've certainly requested manuscripts based on the premise alone, but the stronger queries tend to be the ones that show an understanding of the market.

That said, I certainly don't expect to see an entire marketing plan in a fiction query. In fact, sometimes including a detailed marketing plan can have the opposite effect and show a certain amount of ignorance of the publishing business.

Dan Holloway said...

anon, that's something I'm working on with www.freeeday.wordpress.com and other initiatives. Do drop me a line through www.danholloway.wordpress.com if you want to chew the fat. It's something that is really coming to the fore with the release of Chris Anderson's Free, but it would be rude to hijack Jessica's thread further in order to talk about how we as writers can make a living without agents :-)

Anonymous said...

If I compare my book to another, or show how it's a marriage of two authors (eg: my novel is Stephen King meets Cormac McCarthy) that's still speaking to the premise, to the book itself (which to me, is good). As an agent, maybe that helps you infer a potential audience (or lack thereof). But what if I said "my novel will appeal to readers of Stephen King novels and Cormac McCarthy novels?" To me, that's saying less by saying more. I'm trying to project a diverse audience without actually speaking directly to the tone or genre of my book. It's a subtle difference, but I think it's important.

Robena Grant said...

I recently attended an author workshop where the speaker patronized the crowd by speaking down to them, interspersed her selling technique for online and continuing education classes between each small section of her power point display, and left me COLD and a bit pissed off. There's a time and place for that kind of selling/marketing and it's in the handouts, or said at the end of the session, not during the workshop.

Selling should be subtle and always know your audience. I liken it to having worked in development and fundraising and pursuing major gifts for a non-profit organization. I never had to ask for the money, the check was always presented at the end of the luncheon/dinner meeting.

There are, I think (but your mileage may vary) fine lines between networking (never sell when networking it's for information gathering only) promoting, marketing (these require a strong positive approach) and selling (always, always, subtle).

Mira said...

Anon - 9:52 - thanks, it's always nice to agree. :-)

Anon 10:23, that's an excellent point. There are places where marketing involves writing - blogs, etc., where a writer can be a more effective marketer.

But I think there needs to be some idea of matching the right person for the job. I hire staff to be counselors. I look for people with a certain degree of empathy, compassion, communication skills, etc. I would not, for example, hire the type of personality that makes the best high pressure salesman to do that job. The idea makes me shudder.

Publishers are becoming aware that marketing is a good thing, but they don't want to spend any money on it.

Asking authors to do it for free is another example of authors not being treated well, in my opinion. It's also not effective staffing, and won't lead to the best results.. You may find a few authors who are good at sales, but for the most part, you won't.

If you want to market a book, hire a marketer. Someone trained to market.

If I self-publish, the very first thing I will do is hire a marketer to market my book.

Jessica Brockmole said...

Nicely said!

Becke Davis said...

Hiring a professional publicist is fine, but that doesn't mean you can leave it in their hands. You will always have to market your book, whether it's in conversation or in a marketing campaign. A publicist can distribute bookmarks and ARCS and set up a marketing plan, but you can't opt out completely. Well, you can, but I don't see why anyone would want to. Who cares about your book more than you?

Anonymous said...

Mira, well said again (anon 10:50 and 10:23 here)
You pay for what you get. You want the writer to do a lot of the marketing work or planning for free, well then you've just hired yourself an amateur marketer to market the product you are paying to develop. Not good business strategy. See, this isn't about artistic integrity or wanting to avoid work... it's about smart business, good captialism.

Anonymous said...

In these intial stages, it has to be about story and the quality of the book. I think everything Dan Brown writes is hogwash, but I admit that he tells appealing stories. With him, it's not just about marketing, and it certainly isn't about Dan Brown's marketing scheme. People like the books (no matter how poorly they are written). And sure, the buzz follows and it does become about marketing. But do you think Dan Brown outlined/predicted his success in his query letter? When I read all these blogs by agents, I find myself looking for the easy answer in them, as though somehow I'll find some post that convinces me I can easily find represenation once I start querying. That isn't the case. I have to sell the thing. The same goes for agents and publishers. When you read a query or full you like, the writer's not going to outline for you exactly how the book will succeed. You have to determine for yourself if it's a good story, if it can find an audience, if it can be marketed.

Lucas Darr said...

This isn't rocket science, folks. When faced with two book projects of equal worth, if you were an agent, would you pick:

A) The author who is oozing passion for their project and is a pleasant prospective client.

B) The timid mouse who is a pleasant prospective client.

The dirty little secret here is sometimes someone's success is your failure.

Anonymous said...

c: the one with the most bada** book.

Anonymous said...

You can tell I'm in editing mode on my WIP because I saw this post and immediately started wondering... is that really supposed to be "affect" or is it "effect" ? I think it's #2.

Mira said...


I'd pick the best book.

Mira said...

And Anon 11:35, also very well said.

Publishing is a business. The whole point is it needs to be run as an effective business. That means hiring the right person for the job.

Can I just take a second to acknowledge the folks at Bookends, though, for allowing this discussion?

I can not tell you how much I appreciate that. Without discussion like this, things can not change.

Steena Holmes said...

I just can't believe that someone would write something like that in their query. If they have done their homework - first time writer or not - they would know this is NOT the way to approach an agent.

I mean really - who in their right mind would start a query letter by selling themselves short?

Mira said...

You know what. I'm going to take a break from responding here for a week or so.

We're having lay-offs at my job. It's a extraordinarily difficult situation, and I'm very much feeling powerless in my world right now. So, I'm going to places where I think I can have more of an impact, and striking out against the unfairness of the world.

I do not want to damage relationships with people I like and respect. I'm going to take some time off.


Anonymous said...

It’s funny how an author is supposed to sell their book. I have never bought a book because of the author’s ability to market it. However I have bought a book by a particular author because I liked their writing. There is nothing wrong with a shy author. Seriously, how many authors have you bought a book based on their marketing skills?
Out of the hundreds of books in my house only two of those I actually can say was purchased because of marketing. One was because the author came to my daughters highschool. The other was from a writer's conference.

On another note, another very popular agent blogger says not to compare your book to others. What if they don’t like the books you are comparing to?

The Rejection Queen said...

Never settle.

Genella deGrey said...

Stellar advice, Jessica.

I've been catching my friends degrading themselves in day to day conversation – and I keep having to snap them out of it!

There exists a vast difference between humility and humiliation.

Josie said...

I agree with this post. You must be quietly confident. No bombast, no flowery or exaggerated claims or comparisons (when in doubt, leave out comparisons if you can't think of a good one). But don't apologize for your work--ever.

Anonymous said...

"including a detailed marketing plan can have the opposite effect and show a certain amount of ignorance of the publishing business"

Kim's comment reflects what I have heard from the majority of agents.

I have 23 years of sales experience and a large file of promo ideas for my ms but would never include this in a query. I have mentioned it in cover letters sent with fulls though. I hope this is acceptable and I haven't doomed myself.

Dan Mumford said...

Yes, that is a hard line to straddle. "I'm new and probably suck, but also the best thing ever." I wish you accepted sci-fi, because I would submit to you in a second. This blog has been so helpful to me. Thanks so much for what you do! The articles are great and I've passed the link on to my writing group.

Lucas Darr said...

Ah ah ah, I said: "When faced with two book projects of equal worth"

I have many books in my library that I cannot honestly say which one I like the best.

I am not an agent, but I we can pretend to be one for a minute!

When you subjectively love two things, but only have room for one, non-subjective criteria come into play.

Strangely, pretending to be an agent for a minute has me reaching for the scotch...

Stephanie Faris said...

I always think back to college and the job-hunting workshops I attended. They would give us all of these picky things and I found myself going crazy worrying about every detail. Then, at my first job at a PR firm, I saw some of the people coming in to interview for jobs and I realized, "Oh...THOSE were the people they were referring to." There really are people who show up in job interviews in jeans and sneakers and there really are people who do ridiculous things in query letters. Still, I think we all have that paranoia when we read something like this of, "Oops. Did I ever do that?"

Mira said...

You know I want to clarify something. Sorry to be talking so much and acting like I'm sooo important (I am to me, but I don't expect that other people agree with that), but I've been really vocal here the last two days.

The reason I want to take a break here is because I'm not thinking clearly and I don't know the agents here as well.

I do think that both Jessica and Kim welcome discussion and diversity of opinion which is something I truly respect, value and appreciate.

But since I don't know them as well.....I don't want them to feel betrayed - like I turned on them. So, I want to take space here so I can make sure that I'm speaking my truth in a way that isn't hurtful, aggressive or attacking.

I don't want, in any way, to give the impression that I think either agent here doesn't welcome disagreement. In fact, they are impressively open to it, and very generous in the space they give to blog participants. I want to make sure that I use that space in a way that takes the best advantage of the opportunity.

S.D. said...

I like this post a lot :D

Louisa Cornell said...

Great post, Jessica. As a retired opera singer who has returned to my first love, writing, I know all about what insecurity can do when it comes to performance. And rest assured writing is a performing as well as a literary art. All artists are uncertain about their art to a certain degree. The key is NEVER to advertise that uncertainty. People don't pay to hear a singer who doesn't believe in their voice. If you've rehearsed and studied and gotten help and input from people you really trust (like a great agent) you can step out on that stage and gun down a 250 piece orchestra with confidence and panache. Leave the insecurity and doubt backstage where nobody can see it. The people who pay for your work don't pay to see the insecurities. They want magic and they don't want to see the strings.

Mira said...

I've recieved four e-mails. Thank you. I was not laid off. Friends and staff were. Emotional, political and difficult situation.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Louisa! We need to believe in ourselves and our work and not just try to impress agents or editors.

terri said...

Dear Miss Faust:

Here's my book, I hope you like it. On second thought, it probably sucks and I shouldn't be bothering you with it. But, I heard you are really nice and I thought you might like to read my story. Unless you are too busy or have really important stuff to do.

Thanks again. I'll be sitting by the phone knitting, ripping it all out because it's ugly, and then knitting it again, if you would like to talk to me. My phone hasn't rang in years, so don't worry about bothing me. You can call anytime. Signed Author

Sigh . . .

Like I tell my clients, I'm the first one you have to convince. How can I sell you to the judge if I don't believe in you?