Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What gives?

Perfection, perfection, perfection, perfection.

If you have a typo, no agent for you. If you have a grammar mistake, no agent for you. If you have a plot issue, character quirk or ending that's not perfection, no agent for you.

But if you use a hired editor, no agent for you because it's not a true display of your skills as a writer?


Of course I understand that the influx of queries strains agents and makes them more picky about what they choose to represent. And I know that publishing is a difficult market to break into now more than ever in this "hard economic time."

But in the last few weeks all agents have been posting about is the need for perfection and that they only want to pick up a manuscript that is flawless and publishable directly from the document that hits their inbox.

But then you have agents posting about how using an editor before submitting to agents is cheating. Putting up a false front. Not a true example of what your talent level actually is.

So. Have I screwed myself by hiring an editor because I know I make typos that I don't always catch? If I get an agent, and am then honest (like every agent says we must be), will they drop me because I'm not perfect without some editing?

Perfect is so unrealistic, even with a $1500 editing job. The first editor I used made more typos then me. And I just found a typo in a published novel I was reading yesterday.

Is anything really perfect?


Lady Glamis said...

NO! Nothing is EVER perfect, and if agents expect to get perfect novels from first time authors, they're living in a dream land. There's such a small possibility for that! It's a ridiculous expectation. I think this country just keeps getting lazier and lazier, from everybody all around. It's really annoying!

I shoot for perfection, but heaven for bid if we got rid of editors and expected novels to be perfect from the author to the agent to the press with nothing done in between. Please!

beth said...

Whoa! What agent said no hired editors? I've heard just the opposite from agents (was it Rachelle Gardner? I think so, but not sure...)

Anyway, don't worry about it. First, how would they know you hired an editor? Not unless you tell them (but why would you--at least at the query stage. Maybe after you get a contract, but I don't really see a reason to mention it. I don't mention how many beta readers I've had)

And besides, the story counts first and foremost. No one's going to care if it's grammatically perfect if the story sucks. So don't worry about it!

quixotic said...

LoL, I love finding typos in published work. It makes me remember that even published authors are human too. Perfection is nice, but highly unattainable.

While yes I agree we should have a clean manuscript when submitting, it will never be, truly perfect. As for what agent's and editors want. Who knows, everyone says something slightly different. But here's hoping they take a chance on some of us less than perfect individuals who can't afford an editor, but have done everything else in their power.

scott g.f. bailey said...

Just don't worry about all this crap. Write the best book you can; that's what it comes down to. I really think that agents don't always know what they want. No, I take that back: agents almost never know what they want, just like the rest of us.

I think a lot of things agents say are aimed at, frankly, bad writers who flood them with queries. You can ignore all of that!

It's true that publishers are laying people off, and there are fewer in-house editors and editorial assistants. This means that they're buying books from agents that will require little in the way of "developmental" edits. This means that agents are looking for books that are close to "perfect," but everyone in the industry has a different idea of what "perfect" means. A few typos aren't a problem. Creative storytelling methods aren't a problem. But agents and publishers will work with writers if the book's premise is good and the writing is strong. Like, say, a book about zombies written by a guppy.

B.J. Anderson said...

NOOOOooooo! Wow, $1500?! I was thinking about doing that myself with the whole perfection buzz, but that's just crazy.

Jenn Nixon said...

It makes no sense to me either. When people get published with things like this:

Girl being stalked. Has a dog, German Shepard. Has a doggie door for said dog which is left open.

Add to the fact that the writing was crap, yet said author has 30+ books out. >.<

Keep plugging away, can't quit now!

KLo said...

Keep smiling : )

There is no such thing as perfection, and it's often very easy to flounder in the expectations of other people. Just do your best--you're a very talented writer, which is far more valuable than having perfect punctuation.

Davin Malasarn said...

Nothing I have ever seen has been really perfect to me. No book that is. You're doing great, Guppy.

Tara Maya said...

I wouldn't mention it in the query, but other than that, I wouldn't sweat it. Basically, I think all the agents really mean is, "Don't send me a query that looks like a kindergardener wrote it, and if you really do write like a kindergardener, don't have Cyrano De Bergerac ghostwrite your book for you and expect not to be caught out at it."

Eric said...

Guppster, just write what you write. I've read your stuff and it's good. I'm not really sure you needed to pay for the extra editing, but that's because I think your own editing skills will find what's wrong or missing when you go over your drafts. The idea holds true that if you write a good book, it'll get picked up. You have the ability, so just write and don't worry about it. when it's meant to be published (because it's good enough), it will be. Oh, and keep plenty of DC on hand for the celebration :)

Crimogenic said...

Yup, I agree with those who say that nothing is ever perfect, and more importantly one person's perfect isn't another person's perfect.

Jenna Alexander said...

Nothing is perfect.

This is very discouraging. I am completely challenged when it comes to spelling, punctuation, and grammar. At the same time, I feel I have great stories in me. I’m trying my best to make things perfect and give the reader the best, most polished story possible. But they will never see them if the agents don’t give me a chance.

I made a vow early on in my writing adventure that I would not give up. All my life I’ve heard how awful my writing mechanics are. Recently, I’ve been bombarded with this fact.

Yeah, I know – but my stories are freaking awesome and one day they will be on a book shelf somewhere.

That is, I hope they will be.