Thursday, August 11, 2011
Does Your Writing Pass The Submissions Test?
One first reader, Donna Maree Hanson, has written an excellent series of posts on just that topic. She's come at it from a very honest perspective. You can tell she was working it all out as she was writing the posts, which means they don't feel at all like someone "up there" lecturing down to you. I may have a bit more on the personal side to say about queries and synopses, which I'll talk about in a few days, but for the rest of it, Donna's taken far more time and explored the topic far more thoroughly than I would have done -- and done it from the perspective of someone in the trenches.
I don't know Donna. I found her because she and another blogger were identified as the primary first readers for Angry Robot's open submissions month, which drew close to 1000 submissions. Donna's not the reader who requested my full, nor is she in contact with the reader who did, so I'm not pandering here by pointing you guys her way. I truly believe you'll benefit from reading her posts. Heck, I did.
And for those of you who are UK-based thinking you're safe from the perils of queryland, note that Angry Robot (a serious player in SFF publishing) is/are in the UK. An "American" query letter works just as well there, plus you have the advantage of having one ready to pull from your pocket if you want to query beyond the UK.
You'll need to set aside some quiet time to read through all the content, but do it; you'll get more out of Donna's observations than you would out of that hour you were going to spend watching reruns on TV. The bonus is that much of this advice applies to those of you who self-publish too. If you can please a more discerning reader, your writing will be a shoe-in for a less-discerning (but not less-intelligent or less-validating or less-anything-else -- I'm not disparaging anyone here, merely distinguishing between reading experiences) general audience.
Part 1: Sets up who she and the publisher are and parameters around the process of reading subs
Part 2: When she provided comments back and why
Part 3A: Common issues in partial manuscripts (this is a long post - there are lots of issues!)
Part 3B: More issues that didn't make it into the first go-round
Part 4: On queries/introductory letters and synopses
Part 5: Assessing the full manuscript