Friday, March 9, 2012

(At Least Some) Success

Status: I've kind of been stalking the
Secret Agent contest for two straight days. Also joined Twitter. As for the agent I mentioned in previous posts (here and here), the three week deadline came and went. She must not have gotten my original query. Le sigh. I requeried her this morning.

Number of queries sent: 20
Number of form rejections: 8
Number of requests for additional materials: 0

So yeah. The Secret Agent contest. I have been following that rather obsessively closely. I am just on the edge of my seat over what the Secret Agent has to say. Not just about my entry, even, although that one was obviously most important to me. But I also want to know how (s)he's reacting to all of the other submissions. A large part of that is just that they're my competition, and I want to know what I'm up against. But the rest of me is also just genuinely interested in how a real live agent reacts to all these different MS beginnings.

Is it sad that I made a spreadsheet so I can keep track of Secret Agent's responses? Probably. But I did it anyway. I like to be organized. So far, Secret Agent has said (s)he would form reject 29 of the entries, and would keep reading 14 of them if they were in the slush pile. I only recall one where (s)he came out and said (s)he would request a partial. (And there were an additional two that (s)he didn't say one way or the other, but I would guess that one is a yes and the other is a no).

And guess what! I'm one of the ones Secret Agent would keep reading! Granted, (s)he would keep reading with some reservations. Here's the comment: "I'd keep reading if I saw this in my slush, but the next 5 pages would have to be stellar. I say I'd keep reading because I'm intrigued by the family dynamic and I want to know how this ends up being fantasy, but there are also some strange word usages and grammar errors. I'd want to see if these mechanics improve as the book goes on."

Regarding the grammar errors, I think (s)he's talking about my tendency to use fragments. Perhaps my love of em dashes. I'm not sure. If (s)he doesn't like fragments, I would probably end up with a form rejection. I obviously don't use them all of the time, but there are many places where I think (especially in first person) that a fragment is more natural. It sounds more like a human being. Because human beings don't always speak in complete sentences. So I try to make my writing sound like someone talking, rather than someone sitting down and writing an essay. But maybe it was just that one sentence that would be a problem. Who knows?

So hopefully Secret Agent requests something from me. A query and 25 pages would be nice, don't you think? The winners are announced Monday, so keep your fingers crossed for me!

As for contest #2, I didn't win. Alas. But when the winners were announced, Hannah Bowman (the judge) offered some very good advice for writing pitches. I think I'll work on rewriting mine so I have a better one the next time an opportunity like this arises. Ms. Bowman also invited all contest participants to query her. So I did. And I was very quickly form rejected (hence the change in my numbers up top). But that's okay. It was nice of her to extend the invitation, and there are probably several others that will get requests for partials out of this. I wish my fellow contestants all the luck in the world!

So. Twitter. For people who know me well, I'm sure none of you will have ever seen that coming. I've made some downright disdainful comments about Twitter, over the course of several years. But when it comes down to it, that's where people are. It's where other writers are. It's where literary agents are. And not only is Twitter a good chance to network, but quite frankly, it's also a good place to get valuable information. I've read a lot of advice from agents over the past couple of days. Also saw a contest that was only announced via Tweet (I don't qualify, but that may happen again for my genre), and found two literary agents to add to my spreadsheet, of whom I'd never heard before. And, as much as I hate to admit it, Twitter is both addicting and fun. So follow me @NHNovelist!

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