Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Growth of Authors

I used to keep a file in my emails called "Author Beware"; typically these were emails I received back from authors condemning me for my rejection letters, insulting my abilities, accusing me of theft, etc. I haven't added to that file in a long time, not because I don't feel a need for it, but because I don't get that many accusatory emails anymore.

I'm often asked if I think my blog has made a difference with writers, and while I'd love to take all the credit, there's no way I can. Blogs like mine, Miss Snark, Nathan Bransford, Janet Reid, Kristin Nelson, Moon Rat, Dystel & Goderich, Pimp My Novel, Rachelle Gardner, etc., etc., as well as Twitter and writing groups have collectively made a difference. Query letters are better every day, stronger and more concise, professionalism has gone up tenfold and, frankly, this is all making my job harder.

When I go through my queries looking to reject those that are easy to reject—obviously not ready for publication—there aren't as many as there used to be and, because queries are stronger, it's easier for me to request material, harder to reject.

So kudos to you authors for making our lives harder by doing research and paying attention to what we're saying.

Jessica

17 comments:

Anita Saxena said...

I have learned so much from blogging agents like yourself. I thank you for the time you spend educating us.

I can't believe that people would be so unprofessional as to send you negative e-mails post-rejection. I know that we can all get emotional when our writing isn't received the way that we want, but retaliating like that isn't cool. I'm sorry you've had to deal with that in the past.

wry wryter said...

I stumbled on your blog a little over a year ago and posted as Anon for awhile simply because I didn’t know what the hell this was all about. Now my morning coffee is spent with you, Janet , Nathan, and oh-boy-pimp-boy, plus a couple of others. You guys have made all the difference.
A solitary endeavor like writing requires that we step out and up or we forever remain stagnate. Because of this connection I have taken writing classes, joined a writing group and have come-out, so to speak, as believing, ah knowing, I will do this.
Thanks to all of you, bloggers, posters, writers all, for providing this priceless resource. I know I’ve gotten better because of you. Haven’t we all.

Anna said...

Thanks! And Happy Bloomsday!

Phoenix Sullivan said...

This may be a topic for a blog post in itself, but I'm wondering if you're finding the quality of the work you request to be better overall too?

The general wisdom I've seen on agent sites is that a "poor" query equates to writing not ready for publication. If more authors are putting their queries through crit groups first and hammering out more professional query letters, then it would seem if the general wisdom bears out, you're seeing a high percentage of pretty awful mss making it through on request based on queries that aren't what flowed first from the writer's pen. Is that the case?

Is this the same symptom as the first three chapters of a partial being golden because they've been workshopped and the full falling apart in the middle because the rest of the work hasn't had the same amount of attention?

Or are high-quality queries returning high-quality writing in the mss too?

JP Kurzitza said...

And I'm sure that the majority of those letters you've received also had several grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and were vague and confusing. Lol.

Anonymous said...

Could be a lot of authors aren't going the query route anymore either. The opportunities seem to dwindling down. And, now that there are other opportunities available to authors, they are taking advantage of them.

But I do think all the blogs have helped authors in many ways. Especially posts about getting book descriptions right. It's probably one of the most difficult things for an author to do.

Robena Grant said...

Your blog, and those you mentioned, have been amazing resources for many of us aspiring authors. Oh, and I've saved every one of your rejections so I can monitor my growth. : )

It's a tough world this writing one, and I know I gear myself up for the big R with every submission. We all know the slots are few, the journey hard, the compensation iffy, but we just keep tapping away on the keyboard and try to get better at what we love doing.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if technology has played a part?

Software has become better, computers faster, Internet quicker.

I'd guess one could find a third party to custom write a query letter without looking too far. Or paying too much.

Michael Seese said...

"making our lives harder by doing research and paying attention to what we're saying."

Um, sorry?

Really, I'm surprised anyone would insult you for saying "no." If you can't take rejection, don't try to become an author.

Redleg said...

I'm interested to know if any of the authors in your "screw you" file later turned out to be Dan Brown, Jr. and you really did rue the day you rejected them. I'd wager...not many.

BettyZade said...

You should gather all the best snippets from these letters and make a book! Would be a hilarious read.

Kristin Laughtin said...

I would have probably made a total newbie mistake or written a bad query if I hadn't been able to find information, sample queries, and the like on blogs like this one. Really, you're helping us help you. Everyone benefits!

Miss Sharp said...

Here's another blog that I'm sure writers will adore and agents will come to praise/curse:

http://charactertherapist.blogspot.com/

If you've never visited, be prepared to take copious notes! You'll be seeing your characters in a whole new light! :D

Giora said...

Blogs like yours are very helpful for aspiring authors. Best wishes from canada.

Lucy said...

@ Miss Sharp

Um--I'm not sure if I should praise you or curse you for giving me a whole new way to waste time. That is way-- too-- interesting.

Thanks! (I think.)

Lisa said...

And that's exactly what the problem is with all the query classes...

In the past, you could tell right away if someone was a dangerous lunatic, an obnoxious person to work with, or of generally feeble wit.

Now, these same people are still dangerous and obnoxious, but their polished queries no longer reveal it.

Where, one wonders, is the advantage in that?

The Pen and Ink Blog said...

I am happy to have learned so much from all of you. Lisa makes a good point. The crazies are still out there, but now they have better query manners.