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Thursday, September 16, 2010

These Shoes Just Don't Seem Ready

Of course, the person wearing them doesn't seem to notice that they have no toe. I think we writers sometimes fall into the same lack of awareness when it comes to our own work. On Tuesday, I posted about how the hardest lesson I've learned in my journey to publication was that you shouldn't query too soon. So many of you commented something like this: "Yeah, but how do you really know when your work is ready?" Well, I can't answer that, but I can tell you when it isn't ready. Below, you will find my list of the top three reasons not to query yet. (I had it up to 10, but that would have made for a really long post, and you all know how I feel about those.) Anyway, here is how you know you aren't ready to query: #3: It's the first thing you've ever written or even attempted to write, and the version you are about to query is almost identical to your first draft. Don't get me wrong; first novels can be successful, but not first drafts. I could be wrong here, but I doubt that even Stephen King himself submits a first draft for publication. REVISE. REVISE. REVISE. #2: You've never taken a writing course, read a book on the craft, or followed any agent/publisher blogs. A lot is to be said for knowledge. Not even the best athlete goes into a game without training. Practice the craft, learn the business, and then do it all again several times. #1: Your mom, husband, sister, daughter, dog, whatever, thinks your manuscript is the best thing ever written, but no one else has ever laid eyes on it. These people are great, but they are biased and some might even be afraid to be honest with you. Unless you've had a professional editor and/or awesome crit partners read your work, don't query! Okay, so these are my Thursday's Thoughts. I'd love to hear what you think. Do you know when your work is ready? If so, please share. If not, then please tell us how you know when it's not ready.

24 comments:

Melanie's Randomness said...

Oh yeah about number #1. Biased relatives are bad for the business. hehe. I always have to review things a few times before I can submit it. It's so important. =)

strugglingwriter said...

I don't trust what what my family thinks about my writing at all. I appreciate that they like it, but it's not like I get any feedback other than "I like it" from them.

jbchicoine said...

I certainly agree with your 3 criteria--but I kinda wish you had listed your top 10! For me, it came down to simply making the decision, after mucho revisions, that I was done with it. But, to be honest, I'm still unsure--could just be the artistic temperment, or perfectionism. Don't know if I need an editor or a psychotherapist!

Tere Kirkland said...

After you've hated it, changed it so you love it again, hate it again, love it again... then you'll know you're getting close. ;)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Yes, yes, and yes!! Not following and learning from publisher's and fellow writer's blogs, paired with no critique group, is where I screwed up the first time around. I wrote multiple drafts and had colleagues provide feedback, but that just isn't enough in this industry. Great post, as always, Susan! :-)

Nancy said...

Those are all very good indicators. Also, if you know you need to do a little bit more research, that might be a clue you're not ready.

Carolyn V. said...

Those are perfect Susan! I agree with every one of those. I would be laughing but I did #1. *head hung in shame*

Patti said...

Totally agree, although there's still more before you query. I would love you hear your other seven. You can do that next Thursday.

Bethany Mattingly said...

Great tips! I really value the one about sending it to others to read. I didn't know what I was missing until I did that. :)

Mrsblogalot said...

My family and friends are a bunch of big hearted, good-intentioned liars. Like when I came home with those no toed shoes and said they looked great.

How can you trust a bunch like that?

(-'

lotusgirl said...

Those shoes are just too weird.

Stephanie Faris said...

Hey, my dog thinks EVERYTHING I write is the best thing ever written. As long as I write it while seated next to her on the sofa, petting her!

Marieke said...

Those shoes look so uncomfortable :\

I agree with your points SO much! Let others read your WIP, let it be torn apart, and duct taped together again. Then revise, repeat. And perhaps you'll end up querying too soon anyway, but that's as much a learning experience as the rest :)

WhisperingWriter said...

Great tips. Yup, I've revised my novel tons of times. It's quite different from the first draft. I'm querying now.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I don't know. That's my best answer.
If an agent offers rep, I'll know it was ready. Until then, I'm sure there are lots more revisions ahead.

Suzanne Casamento said...

Your Top 3 reasons not to query yet are right on! My critique group will let me know if something's not ready. They're the greatest ready-meter.

Where do you get these shoe pics? Can you imagine wearing those? Without a base?! Ouch!

Jackee said...

These are perfect thoughts! From now on when I have a writer new to the "ropes" I'm sending them straight to you, Susan, to explain submitting. :o)

Have a great night!

VICTORIA SAAVEDRA said...

I don't know. I have never felt like my manuscript is ready. Ah, hopefully one day I will though :)

Faith said...

I'm with you -- I have no idea when to know my work is ready! I'm hoping some magical being will descend from the sky and say "Send thine work forth into the ether!" and then I'll know for sure.

...but, uh, otherwise... it's pretty much a crapshoot...

paulgreci said...

Those are solid reasons not to query. At some point you have to put your work out there, and we all hope that the first thing we query, whether it's our 1st or 5th book, will be the book lands an agent. That said, it's important to keep writing b/c you just don't know what will happen.

Solvang Sherrie said...

Great list. I still don't know when the right time to query is because even agents and editors will tell you, part of the equation is luck.

Robyn Campbell said...

Aww, but my horses absolutely love my first drafts. hehe

And I think some writers fall into the trap of never really knowing when their story is 'ready', so they never query. I read about a writer who was still revising seven years later. There has to be a time when you say, "Okay, I'm taking the chance." I think some writers are scared to death, so they miss their opportunity. It's all so discerning. You have to know when, but then it has to be a gut feeling. yanno? Great post. But the shoes? NAAAAAAAAAAA I think they'd hurt my feet just a little. :) Glad you're back.

Tabitha Bird said...

Oh yes. So true. Never query with that first draft. First drafts are for drawers and shoeboxes and perhaps fireplaces :)

Laura Pauling said...

I think this last time around, I didn't query too early - the story wasn't right, my writing isn't there yet...who knows. But I do feel it was ready. It had been through revisions, the logic and timeline was fixed - there was nothing else I could do but make it worse! That's when I knew. And when I'll know the next time around too - and then I'll wait a bit longer just for good measure!