QUIBBLES & BITS
In England it was reported that frustrated author David Lassman, having had his novel rejected time and again, submitted 3 Jane Austin works under an assumed name to 17 publishers. All 17 replied with letters of rejection.
In my neck of the woods there is one Harry Potter book for every three Canadians. That doesn't leave much shelf space for anyone else this week, so I have decided to delay the release of my autobiography, Deni, A Life In Progress - Volume I, in order to avoid any competition.
I was asked the following: "Do editors or agents feel more important when they put down a writer?"
My response: "No."
However, agents and editors are looking for reasons to reject your book, and not because it makes them feel important. It's because submissions number in the hundreds. Per month. At the very least.
You can beat the odds by following guidelines. If an agent/editor wants a certain font, use it (at a conference I told people my publisher preferred 12-pt Times New Roman and fully 50% of their subsequent submissions were in Currier). If an editor prefers italics to underlining, get rid of the underlining (90% didn't in the example I cited above). Use spell-check. That's sounds duh! but you'd be surprised. Those red squiggles underneath words are there for a reason. Learn punctuation...and get rid of that damn semi-colon fetish right now! Yes, it's okay to use semi-colons. No, it's not okay to use them in every paragraph. And while we're on the subject, ellipses and em-dashes do NOT help your pacing. Oh, and please learn the difference between singular and plural.
And if your (NOT you're) attitude is: "If their are any mistakes I'll leave it for an editor too fix, after all thats what they're paid too do," you might consider self-publishing.
Now, how many mistakes can you find in between the quotation marks? :-)
My point is, give yourself the best possible chance. Get your manuscript free-lance edited. Submit a professional product. Follow guidelines. And if you can't find any guidelines, ASK.
Look at it this way. If you wanted a job badly, would you submit an unedited "the employer will fix my mistakes" resume?
I was asked the following: "If writing is a craft, just as much as carpentry, can't it be taught?"
My reply: Yes, you can teach writing. Yes, writing is a craft. But, no matter how hard you try, you can't teach storytelling. And unless I was talking about "structure" [in some esoteric way], I sure wouldn't compare writing to carpentry :-)
I suspect I'd open a big can of worms if I tried to define "craft," so I won't (hey, it's my blog). All I'll say is that I recently turned down a submission that had "craft" but no substance.
Joyce Carol Oats likes Mad magazine. Me, too. Once upon a time, I had a subscription to Mad. I still remember one cartoon: A Roman senator [wearing a toga, of course] is standing on a platform in front of a vast audience. Caption: "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your..."
I laughed myself silly, but Mad editors had to explain the joke in the next issue, due to hundreds of queries. Seems every Roman in the vast audience had eyes, nose, mouth, but was missing ears.
So...how many people bought the new Harry? Raise your hands. And how many sneaked a peek at the ending?
Over and Out,