Thursday, September 29, 2011

Critique Conspiracies : The Wicked Misconception – You MUST Get Their Full Approval

To start, I must reiterate what I advised before in the Know-It-All installment of this series. Check the credentials of anyone who tells you how to get ahead in this business. And I failed to include this very simple method of hunting down an author’s published status. Call up their title on Amazon. If you scroll down and see no mention of a publisher, they did it themselves. If it displays an obscure publisher with very few authors in its house, chances are they built their own little publishing website to make it look like they got the real deal.

Don’t get me wrong. A self published success story—we’ll say an author who sold around 10,000 copies—is entitled to some respect. So, I support self publishing if the author knows what he or she is doing. But they need to be able to prove their competency with such numbers to be considered pundits. Frankly, anyone who boasts those types of figures is probably going to get an agent and book deal anyway and therefore become a real published author.

Also, I’d like to give special kudos to Dean Miller who commented in my last posting, “Remember, even bad advice can be useful.” Because that’s soooo true, from the start of this series, I’ve been planning on dedicating one posting to that very premise. :)

Okay, now to the points of today’s posting.

• Writers tend to become dependent for total approval from their critique group. Don’t fall into this trap.

• As a bit of an extension to the approval thing, you will inevitably hear from some critique piers that you absolutely must be finished with a manuscript before you pitch it. Not true.

In support of the first bullet, a very good friend of mine who is super multi-published with Harlequin told me early in my critique addiction, “You’ll never get 100% buy in from a critique group. Take their suggestions, use what resonates with you to make changes, and move on.”

If the bit of advice in the second bullet looks familiar, it’s because I segued with it in the intro to this series. In fact, someone wrote in our comments section that day that I was giving bad advice. And when I checked that person’s webpage, there were no credentials of a published novel. Go figure. It’s uncanny how typical it is for those without clout to appoint themselves as the know-it-all.

Here’s an anecdote about a real published novelist that backs up my point. Mark Henry, (go ahead, check his background) author of the humorous Amanda Feral zombie series plopped down in front of an editor at a conference with nothing more than an idea in his head. Not a word on paper yet. He pitched it. The editor asked to see a manuscript. Henry wrote the entire novel in a couple of months and sent it in. And yeah, he got published. There are several in the series now as I recollect.

The best idea is to have your book ready. Sure. But for your own sake, don’t let a connection go cold because you don’t have a stack of pages to throw at her! That’s just common sense.

At a recent conference, in passing, I pitched a novel to an editor with one of the BIG publishing houses. She misunderstood me and thought it wasn’t finished, but said, “Drop me a line on Facebook when that’s ready.”

Feel free to read that last line again.

I explained to her that in this case, the manuscript was indeed complete, but the point is: agents and editors know that it’s hard to kick out 60,000 – 100,000 words so they do look for works in progress. You’ll see. There are screw-ups lurking about who will tell you otherwise. Don’t let their obsessive, distorted misconception hold you back. You deserve to be published!

The ever opinionated E.C. Stacy


Dean K Miller said...

Okay...let's see: mentioned in someone else's that a credential for me to post on my resume? Gotta' check on that.

Quoted with thanks about bad advice being useful? Does that make my advice fall into that category? Hmmm? Check that one out too.

Caveat on the bad advice being useful: you have to be able to tell the difference between good and bad...then it becomes useful.

BTW My credentials: one published article...take that to the bank and invest wisely!

Finall, basing my decision solely on my credentials, I'd say there's a lot of good advice in this blog. If you disagree, drop me a line on Facebook and let me know.

Nathan Lowell said...

There *is* a lot of good advice here.

Personally, I could stand to see more about the indie route because I think the traditional path is about to become a mine-field and we need wo be better informed.

My credentials: Three novels in print (small press), eight novels in audio, one self-pub novella (only sold 5000 units in 3 months but I'm expecting to break 10k this year). The bottom line is the bottom line and I can't afford to accept any of the mainstream deals I've seen or heard about lately.

Joanne Kennedy said...

You make lots of good points, E.C., but I do want to point out that some unpublished writers are excellent critique partners. People who read widely in your genre can be great critique partners, whatever their writing experience.

lesleylsmith said...

Huh? "Writers tend to become dependent for total approval from their critique group." Total approval from a critique group?!! What the heck is this? Not only have I never gotten, or even seen, "total approval", my crit partners don't even agree on their disapprovals. :)

I must be missing something...

Chiseled in Rock said...

Dean, I hope you understand that you are NOT the know-it-all. You never wrote that I gave bad advice. Nathan, indeed it is becoming more of an obstacle course isn't it with the 'traditional' deals. And again, bravo to those who pull down the big coin going the self route. I want to see more Amanda Hockings and hear their advice.


Patricia Stoltey said...

What I love most about my critique group is that they often disagree. That mirrors what happens when our books get into the hands of reviewers and readers, so it's very helpful.