Today, on Bookends’ blog, agent Jessica Faust said, “When an agent tells you that something isn’t working, it’s typically not because you’ve decided to break whatever rules you think exist in this business, it’s because it’s not working. A character not being likeable enough usually means that readers didn’t like her. Now, sure it’s possible another reader might have another opinion, but it’s also possible that in your attempt to make her tough and damaged you’ve made her unlikeable.”
As a professional editor, I can relate. There are times when a writer simply isn’t ready to receive REAL feedback. This often happens when she finishes her first or second book and is convinced this manuscript is going to make her famous. This writer jumps right in and starts querying, expecting nothing but praise from anyone who reads her soon-to-be bestseller. Most writers have experienced those same feeling. Who doesn’t want positive feedback? However, not all writers react the same way once they don’t get the praise they were expecting. Be very careful what you post on Twitter, Facebook, your blog, or any other internet site. You never know who’s reading and once it’s out there, you have no control where it might land. Bashing the wrong agent could affect your career, especially if the agent was only being honest. Other agents may read what you wrote and decide you’d be too difficult to work with. Publishing is a small community, and with the internet, nothing’s private anymore. Think twice before you post something negative about another person in the industry.
Now, step back and really look at your work. Have you taken the time to learn the craft or are you just winging it? Do you realize the odds of getting published are lower than they were ten years ago? Not many writers make it without learning the ins and outs of the craft. For example, while many writers probably believe they understand GMCs, there are many who are mistaken. Sorry that I keep harping on this, but not understanding how to use GMCs is a big deal—or rather, a deal breaker. The same goes for “show, don’t tell”, “1-2 dimensional characters”, “lack of inciting incident”, and so on.
Please, please, please. Do yourself a favor and learn about the craft of writing BEFORE you send out your queries. I promise you’ll receive more favorable feedback if you do.
How have you learned about the craft of writing? Did you take courses, read books, hire a writing coach, or what?