From the most recent several weeks of slush encountered, here are some random facts.
Longest read before a no: 70 pages
Shortest read: 3 paragraphs.
Most common reason for rejection: lack of interest in the main character.
Second most common reason for rejection: Unsupportable plotting quirks.
And yes, I'm still bemused by people who send me query letters via the contact form. Especially since this is directly below the contract form:
Any one who attempts to submit or query through this form will have their email address banned across the whole domain.
And of course it is nearly always for something I don't represent in the first place.
Dave Freer & Eric Flint are ahead in the Best SF/F Novel and Dave is currently near the top of the best Author ranks. Go vote!
In the other categories, friends of mine that I'm told were nominated included Sarah Hoyt, James Enge (for a short), Toni Weiskopf, Eric Flint, and a few others who's names escape my feeble mind.
And I got my Arisia schedule:
|272||Making Tropes Interesting||Paul Revere B||Literature||Sat 5:00 PM||Duration: 01:00|
|308||Mirror Neurons, Empathy, and "Theory of Mind"||Paul Revere A||Science||Sat 8:00 PM||Duration: 01:00|
|635||Bad Contracts and Publishing Scams||Room 201||Literature||Sun 12:00 PM||Duration: 01:00|
|4||Bioethics in Theory and Practice||BU Suite (Regency Club)||Science||Sun 1:00 PM||Duration: 01:00|
|506||Grok, Hobbit!||Paul Revere A||Literature||Mon 12:00 PM||Duration: 01:00|
The rest of the time i'll probably wander through the dealers areas, the bar, the con suite, the bar, the green room, the bar, the lobby, the bar, the room parites, and i may remember to sleep...
Reading a good submission by someone I'm not familiar with take waaaay more time than reading a published novel by someone I'm not familiar with.
Laziness: Dear Agent or Editor: (I know I'm one of the two, but does this fictitious waster of time know which, and what my name might be?
Vagueness: I'm enclosing the first 500 pages of book one, in which the amazing story begins to unfold. I'm in the middle of book two now but I already know how book 3 will end. Lots of writers don't know anything about what they write about, but I've been an avid fisherman for years, so I thought this was a natural subject for a trilogy. Of course, my fish live on another planet and fight evil monsters, so it's much more exiting that way. People will be amazed when they read it. ( Notice the lack of anything about the crucial characters, plot, or how it is resolved. )
A lack of understanding for how the industry works:
Please call me as soon as you get this so I know it got there. I really look forward to working together. Of course, if you want something changed in the trilogy I'll be glad to think about it. I'm flexible. If you don't have time to look at it, I hope you will send it to another agent or editor that might like it.
(One can either spend two hours a day letting people know their baby has arrived safely, or actually be productive.)
And more laziness and probably poor command of the written word:
Call me write away. (no further comments)
Amandatkd had another one that is inspired.
This letter displays:
This paragraph is a work of art:
(WiM explains not only what the human condition really is but why. Set in the future five thousand years from now, it's a mixture of Tolkien, David Webber and Dan Brown. Cool, huh? What more could you want but elves, exploding spaceships and religious conspiracy theories and truths?) It displays gross arrogance, delusions of competence and a wonderful ability to attempt to combine widely divergent styles that would probably make someone who actually tried to read something like this throw up.
(I'm offering you first crack at this masterpiece before I ship it off to other agents. Three days should be more than long enough for you to realize what a find this is. You can read a sample and see the artwork my little brother Shemp has down to accompany it at the following website: www.imafool.con or the companion site, www.youareafoolforlooking.com) Takes the assumption that bribes will work. And adds in more work for the agent!
Archangelbeth too does fun things:
( Dear Ms. Hawke,
I am twenty-seven years old and I have always wanted to write a book. Now that I have disvoverd your wonderful blog, I have been inspired. I have the outlines for a five book trilogy, spanning twohundred years of a star-spanning empire's death throws, from the last True Queen to her illegitimate grandson who will lead his people from the ashes of their former empire to a new world and civilization, with the help of energy beings who make stargates.)
Misidentifies the gender of the agent. Continues by showing only a loose ability to count or spell, and is states enough about the ambition of the book to make most agents turn it down here.
Tcastelb fortunately writes better cover letters in real life:
The greeting is classicly bad:
( Dear Mr. Jennifer Jakson,
i have this awesome idea for a kid's book. i sent you the whole thing even if it isn't done yet. Kids--and kids at heart--are going to love it. My dog Squeaky inspired this story. He (not Squeaky, the dog in the story) gets adopted by a kid named Jimmy that doesn't want a dog and Jimmy keeps getting in trouble and the dog, which is a very pretty collie (Squeaky's not, Squeaky is a chiwawa) saves the kid from all kinds of trouble. Jimmy falls into a well (this takes place out in the country because i think kids should understand nature more) and the dog, whose name is Laddie, goes for help. It's all real exciting and Laddie almost dies. Jimmy loves him a lot after that and everyone is happy.)
It confuses gender and agent showing a wonderful attention to detail. Then we see blatant ripoffs of Lassie with a thin coat of (clear) nail polish on the serial numbers. And one can not overlook the ability of the paragraph to stay on topic. Since all if you have I'm sure read my submission guidelines you'll know that this person is not only sending something I don't represent, but sending me something that isn't complete.
This bit shows a clear distance between the writer and reality as well:
( And i'm warning you now, if you tell me no i'm going to send Squeaky to you via FedEx and he's going to rip your office to shreds to teach you a lesson. And that's after i put a curse on you. i watched Bedknobs and Broomsticks a lot and i learned all kinds of spells from it so you better watch out or i'll turn you into a rabbit.)
( I've written a really great book that I really hope you'll take a look at. I know you said that you want it as an attachment, but I couldn't get that to work in my e-mail, and I figured it would be just as easy to scroll down (even if the formatting is kind of weird, I couldn't get it to work. It's right in the document though!). Anyway, what's one little scroll down - so easy, you might as well read it and skip the letter! ;P )
This one says the writer is ignoring the rules out of laziness, and resorts to emoticons over ya know using words. Always a plus for a writers.
Wrote something that could be some of the stuff I get in my contact form a couple times a month. Paranoia, shaky grasp of reality and of course the not so subtleties of publishing. ( I've written the first book of a multi-volume epic fantasy and would eagerly like to submit it to you. I've read your livejournal and feel you would be perfect to represent my work. The nearly completed first novel comes in at slightly over 500,000 words. I'd like to tell you what my novel is about but first I have attached a legal document for you to sign and return to me guaranteeing my idea will not be stolen while in your agency's possession. )
More to come tomorrow, and of course the winner. Eventually.
*Apologies to Susan Powter, all English teachers, and those who just had a flashback at the mention of the name.
Managed to get my LJ to feed to my www.Tribe.net account and my Facebook account. Failed hideously to do so with JournalSpace or MySpace. Anyone know anyplace else I can run the RSS/Atom Feeds off to so that I don't have to maintain half a thousand blogs?
And the wonderful lady who does my website has been migrating me from my hosts basic email to using the Gmail app, (I'd prefer Yahoo, but both work) so now I'll have functioning spam filters and all my mail regardless of if i send it from my computer or laptop or my much loved BlackBerry.
For those wondering the current Blackberry is the BlackBerry Curve 8320 from T-Mobile. I love it.
Tomorrow I get to mail more manuscripts and attack the slush, and read the revision I asked for. If i finish the revision, and can still keep my eyes open I'll be moving onto more client reads.
Note, anyone who didn't get an auto response to a submission today, please check with me via the submission form on my site I'll make sure your baby is in the box.
Talk of sex, stereotypes, and worse truth below.
Feel free to explain this one to me. I'm dying to hear it.
* Anyone who knows the original quote and quoted person please let me know.
I don't think that plotting is really something that everyone can learn. Most people yes. But its a skill that escapes many a story teller who none the less displays good grammar and and decent character building.
Character creation I think is probably the hardest skill to develop, and world building being something that most people don't apply anything like moderation too. It's either vast quantities of information that doesn't advance the plot, build the character(s), or otherwise draw the reader to care about the book or the equivalent of talking heads in space or with swords (sometimes both).
Seriously, for the grammatically challenged there is help, most libraries will have some level of English text book that teaches the hows and whens.
A lot of agents and editors rail on and on about people who can't seem to follow submissions guidelines. There is good reason for this, but that's not what this is post is about.
I just want to thank the people who have in the past and will in the future follow the submission guidelines. Often I download six, seven or more submissions or more and take them with me if I expect to wait for a while. I can be sitting in an airport, a doctors office, or getting my taxes done. When after going through several bad submissions be it here at my desk or sitting on a train, I'll get to someone who got it right. Opening a file and realizing i don't have to worry about how to contact this person because their file isn't book.doc and they have heaven forbid put their contact info in the file is an unalloyed joy. It's also about the only one an agent or editor should be able to count on every time they hold their nose and go spelunking.
So to those of you who get it right, thank you.
I'll be looking at some of the slush this weekend as well. Anyone who submitted to the correct inbox for Winter Workout who has not received a final response yet should drop me a message via the contact form on my website.
Super secret subtle hint below:
For those who have received their reply, the shorter and more positive it was the more i liked it. If i said something about there being a better place to start the book, I may have really liked it if that was the largest comment on it.
Way back in '04 I won/purchased the first five Dresden Files books, autographed. Since then they have remained on my top shelf untouched, and something I wasn't sure I'd ever get too. Fortunately, I snagged the first one to read after going through a couple of my favorite rereads. I've since read three of them, back to back. Really fun books. Readers may find the tone similar to Gaiman in the incidentals.
The two rereads were Lois Bujold's Curse of Chalion, and David Weber's Shadow of Saganami. What great books. Two very different styles of character creation, two very different worlds, and two books that have insinuated themselves at the top of my fave books by those writers.
Julie Czerneda's A Thousand Words For Stranger came highly recommended, and has been pimped at various times by Lois Bujold. This of course made me highly nervous. Fortunately, the book lives up to tall the hype. And Julie is wonderful woman to meet.
Patricia Briggs wrote the wonderful "Steal the Dragon" all the intrigue and drama of the uber-fat fantasy's in a slim volume complete with characterization done with efficient flair.
Ilona Andrews wrote the gritty, gripping "Magic Bites", no saccharin sweetness to this skiffy morsel, and no pretentious literary nonsense either. Just good writing first to last.
As for where I've been. Rather sick. Nothing serious, just a nasty virus that put me in bed for a couple days and has made catching up an interesting proposition.
A lot of interesting projects this year. Some were very hard to say no to, and one or two I might not say no to at all. Between the Winter Workout and cleaning out the regular slush pile (which is filling up again) I'm pretty certain well over a million words have passed my eyes in the last month.
Thank you all again for taking part.
One the subject of submissions that have made it past one chapter, I would prefer if you each gave me forty five days from the day you receive notice to either offer my services or give a rejection from something past the first chapter.
And while i make no money for saying it: Svedka vodka is nice.
I should get to at least the first chapter of everyone I haven't at least done the first chapter for tomorrow or Friday the latest. After everyone's first chapter has been read I will start those that have been held back in earnest. Please note that this applies to the submissions sent to the WW@onyxhawke.com email address and not to the ones sent to the regular box, those i should be reading again in two weeks or so.
So, since i'm feeling obscenely generous, an amazing thing given that I'm still sober...for anyone who has submitted, who couldn't decide what to send. Go ahead, send a second if you have it, but it may not be in the same world and must also follow all guidelines.