Saturday, October 2, 2010

Advice Please

First off, let me remind people that revision advice here is freely given. Lift as much or as little of it as you want to incorporate into your final query, synopsis, or book blurb. Take all that resonates, ditch anything that doesn't. Blanket permission is granted.

I must say, it really warms my cockles when successful revisions go on to garner requests for partials and fulls. I'm also very pleased that several I had a heavy hand in (on this blog and others) have even wound up as part of a published book's promotional material. Some successes have been shared directly with me; some I've learned about through the back door. Regardless, I'm always thrilled. Who doesn't want to feel the hours they're investing have some payoff in the end?

Of course, I don't always hit homeruns with my revises. I can pretty well tell upfront the ones I've gotten right from the ones that still need work. Maybe I miss seeing something obvious. Maybe I'm just not "getting" it for whatever reason. Maybe right then I'm at a point where I can't string two coherent sentences of my own together. It happens. That's when I -- and the author! -- rely on commenters to come along and set things right.

I've seen some really amazing and insightful comments here, along with some brilliant revisions. I appreciate them because I know the authors of the works in question appreciate them. I also appreciate when commenters unapologetically come along and say, "I disagree with Phoenix on Point X" or "Nope, Phoenix blew it on that one. Here's a MUCH better approach," because they're usually right. Revisions on this blog are not about my ego (ouch!), but about helping writers come up with the BEST marketing tool to get their mss noticed.

Sadly, comments have fallen off a bit lately (like you haven't noticed). Now, I don't mind continuing to do critiques just as I have been. I'm simply paying it forward for the help I've received on my own journey. The blog is averaging about 120 hits a day when queries and synopses are posted and I'm thinking those who are coming by are absorbing best practices and lessons learned, so in some way I may be helping a greater audience than just one person for each critique I do. But I hate that the query and synopsis writers are losing a rich variety of perspective when so few people comment.

So here's where I need YOUR advice: What's the best approach for soliciting more comments here? Should I simply post out a revision, say, on Monday, let you guys comment first, then come back with my comments on Tuesday? Or is it OK for me to do the first critique because those folk inclined to doing critiques (and each of you has been fabulous, if I do say so!) are just getting burned out? Or is there something else in the mix that we can try?

And yes, I'm perfectly aware of the irony in asking you to comment on how to get more comments ;o)


fairyhedgehog said...

I often pop along, see what you've said, and feel I've nothing useful to add. "Go Phoenix!" or "what she said" don't seem like useful additions!

And sometimes I'm just too plain tired to do something that needs that much brain power.

I guess if you did your bit after we'd had the chance to comment I might venture a thought or two. I very much doubt that it would add anything useful to the author's experience, though.

Sarah Laurenson said...

The whole month of September was shot for me and I'm still playing catch up. I've poked my head in and, as FHH points out, said "That's great, Phoenix. Nothing to add." and left without really commenting.

There are months that are harder to get participation and times when people get busy.

I don't think there are any easy answers and the weight may fall onto your shoulders if you decide to continue.

Matt said...

Don't be worried, these things go up and down. I also noticed that the decrease in comments coincided with the start of the school year; a lot of writers are teachers and students, I believe.

Also, some of your latest posts have been redux: redux, and people might have already said what they have to say the first time around.

And there have been a few synopses lately. Keep in mind that many people come to these sites in the middle of work and that much reading might be more time than they have to invest.

There's a lot of reasons comments could be down, and they haven't been down long. I would call this a dip, not a trend.

One thing I've worried about, though, is that this blog lacks exposure...

Maybe we could mention Phoenix and link to her on our respective sites/blogs? Or drop her name at some of the more well known blogs (Kristin Nelson, Nathan Bransford, etc.)

vkw said...

I love getting the help needed for my query and my synopsis. I've discovered that the least understood parts of the synopsis correlates well with the least clear parts in the novel.

I don't know how to encourage others to comment. Here's why and why I don't comment. Reasons why I don't - sometimes a synopsis or a query is so confusing, I don't want to post . . . this makes no sense, start over, what???? That sounds a bit mean to me and not helpful.

Sometimes I don't post because the query and the synopsis is of a genre I don't particular care for. For example, I don't like chick flicks. The best chick flick ever created would probably get a lukewarm reaction from me. Can I be helpful under these circumstances, probably not.

I don't want to be mean nor do I want to be unhelpful because of my likes/dislikes.

And, sometimes I just don't feel "good" enough to make a constructive comment.


AA said...

Matt made some good points, there. September is the busiest month for educators, and many commenters are teachers, or the parents of school-aged kids, or both. Also, spacing out all the "redux" would help, if you could find a way to do that.

Not posting links to the other versions of the current query would help me focus on the current one, and that one has to stand alone anyway. Somehow seeing the link makes me feel obligated to look back at it, but it's a waste of time more often than not, and then I get tired quicker. I don't know if anyone else feels this way.

I'm not sure if letting us comment first would help because many people might not want to be the first to post something negative. Notice that when you point something out, others are quick to say they noticed the same thing, and that can get the ball rolling. On the other hand, it might be interesting to try to figure out what's working and what's not without relying on what you said.

If I think of anything that would help I'll post it. Good luck.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Maybe give it a try for a bit, post the query, let the Dream Team jump in for couple of days then add your revision.
The author then has time to consider the comments before you present your version.
I'm sure this is a dip as well influenced by the back to school pressures.
And I concur about mentioning this site on other sites. Why didn't I think of that? So, that's what I'm going to do right now.

Ben said...

I've been one of the ones who come and read, but I haven't commented because I don't really consider myself an expert.

The queries and synopses have been good in my eyes, but in the future I'll try and drop a few lines.

this is a fantastic blog, Phoenix, and one I look forward to reading daily or every other day. Keep it up!

McKoala said...

Um, I'm not a big commenter here, but I do visit sometimes with a heart of goodwill... That's not much help, though, is it?

Kay said...

I only recently found your blog, but immediately added to to my Google Reader and have read every post since.

Having a blog myself, I understand your frustrations in regards to comments and will be more diligent about posting my own comments on the blogs I read. On yours, I can't remember having a comment that had not already been posted.

I don't care which direction you decide to go, just keep going. This is one of my very favorite blogs out there AND I almost have my courage up to send you my query and synopsis. :-)

Good luck and hang in there.


Wilkins MacQueen said...

I so know where you are coming from from. I don't feel qualified to comment but I can say it doesn't feel right or I'm confused or I liked it. I try to be positive but that isn't always helpful. If something strikes you as wrong you are helping the writer by saying so. If the author didn't want honest feedback they wouldn't be here asking for help. So hard as it is, bring it on. If your comments are out of line the more experienced members of Divine Miss P's Dream Team will point it out. Please don't hold back.
Very best,

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Send it, NOW. Pretty please?

Wilkins MacQueen said...

As a wee Koala you had a book on your shelf. The story line went something like: I think I can I think I can.
I think you should. Just dive in. The water is cool and crisp and your mind gets sharp as you stroke your way to the surface and help writers.
I bet Divine Miss P would love to see you comment, as I would.

Anonymous said...

An a side here I looked over EE's archives and guess what? Sept was lower than the other months for stuff. Purely a seasonal fluctuation.

Phoenix said...

I'm posting a general reply to all your suggestions and encouragements on the blog. Thank you!

One thing I wanted to mention in the comments and not necessarily on the post is that exposure would be nice to drive more queries here. Janet Reid was kind enough to post a link to my site a few weeks ago and traffic really spiked. The Shark bump is substantial. I'm hoping some of those folk are working on queries and might remember there's help available here when it's time.

I always push EE's site when I can and when it's appropriate.

One thing I'm reluctant to do myself but one of you might do if you've a mind, is to send the link to Nathan Bransford for one of his Friday roundups (Here's a helpful site, thought maybe your readers might want to know about it -- that kind of thing). He's been quite receptive to posting a few links I've sent him in the past.

But if someone does do that, let me know so I can be sure to have a fresh query up on Thursday or Friday, OK?

Have I said thank you enough? I'm sure not, so thank you again!

Whirlochre said...

Speaking for myself (because frankly, that wretched gimp in my basement doesn't deserve a look-in) I'm queried out at the moment and tend not to follow the query posts.

It may just be that since these feature material already hosted over at EE's, you're always going to have less visitors/posters than one-shot queries attract, and since even EE normally averages 10-20 comments per query, you're fine with anything close to 10.

If I knew the secret to comments, my own blog wouldn't have gone from a swamp to a desert.

As for NB, he's a generous and cheery soul. Drop him a line.

sylvia said...

I have a bad habit of catching up on a blog in one big batch, so I feel silly 1) commenting on something where the conversation died a fortnight ago and 2) commenting on a rash of posts all at once. So I end up reading and not commenting unless I have something very specific to say on the subject. Same issue with EE's blog, actually.