Monday, October 29, 2007
To Erase or Not to Erase (or how much to cater to an agent)
On my journey to figuring out the age old question, "What next?" I find myself a little stumped in my query quest. I thought I'd try to get ahead of the game (or at least in the game) and seek the wise internet for exactly what an agent wants, only to find that not only do they not all want the same thing, what one wants may absolutely turn another against you, and not just in my novel writing, but even in just my query!
One site tells me the best way to "hook" a query reader is to ask the hypothetical question that will want them to read on, but blogging agent Nathan Bransford, one of my new favorites, has very strong sentiments against the hypothetical question. In the famous words of Nathan, "For the love of JustinBobby!" I certainly plan on customizing my queries to each agent, but unless I'm picked up by one of the first four (and I completely understand the astronomical odds against that!), I think I may die of old age before I could write a new and different query for each submission! It's taking me longer to get the query perfect than it took me to write the silly book!
And then, when five people read it and find five different things they would change to make it better, who to listen to? How does a writer go about figuring out what really needs to be adjusted and what is fine as it is? Do I follow my instincts? I have rewritten my first chapter fifty times trying to get it to that "I'd definitely want to read the rest of the book" stage. How much is too much?
I love that Nathan Bransford just let people submit their first paragraph for him to choose his favorites. No rose for me in that ceremony (or even a token carnation), but all the same I learned a ton. For instance, the other people independent of him that judged the entries for themselves picked entirely different favorites. Lesson learned? I need much thicker skin and a higher tolerance for rejection and failure, because there are a thousand people who will hate what one will love.
Maybe my husband is right: I should go into computers and math, because there is definitely a right and wrong answer in those fields. On the other hand, I remember using a lot of erasers in Calculus too...