I’m not going to make it a practice to answer every question that shows up in my inbox or randomly in my LJ comments. Though it had occurred to me a couple weeks ago, to throw open a thread a la Making Light’s open threads. I may yet do that. And if anyone tosses a question out here, it’s possible (though not entirely plausible given my current workload post-traveling) that I’ll pick it up. In any case….
I attended a writer’s conference about three weeks ago, and met a half-dozen agents and editors that asked for partials. I told a couple of them that given what I’d learned at the conference (mostly at Don Maass’s all-day workshop), that I’d like to take some time to revise it. They told me to take as much time as I needed.
My question is: How long is too long? There was a certain amount of enthusiasm in their requests which I’d hate to lose.
As with many things my answer will begin with: Your mileage will vary. Given that agents meet a *lot* of writers, it’s often possible that after several months and several conferences, those that linger in our minds are rare indeed. That’s not a comment on quality. It just becomes difficult for any mind lacking a parallel processor (like mine – heh) to keep track of. So, yes — there is a possibility that time passing will dim enthusiasm. However — the other side of that coin is a warning that one should never submit anything until it’s the absolute best that one can make it. Competition (as shown by the statistics) is quite fierce. You have to really be the creme de la creme to stand out these days. It’s just a bare fact. In the end, I can only speak for myself — and not to all those other agents, for whom, admittedly, this is a subjective business. If I’m sufficiently enthusiastic and you’ve made a deep impression on me — I’ll wait. If not, more than a couple months may be putting you back at the same beginner spot as those who haven’t personally met me. It’s all triage at some point. I can tell you that there is someone who met me at a conference about 2 1/2 years (yes, years) ago and only just submitted their work. That’s too long. I’ve moved on. I’m a different person. My client list is a different place. There was another author that I read a few proposals by over the duration of a couple years, and I occasionally re-encountered them at conferences in the meantime, and eventually we hooked up. I just did the deal for her third book. I think, in the ultimate endgame of dealing with any author, it all boils down to the writing. The story is what sticks with me; it’s what keeps me going when the market is tough and the rejections don’t make sense. That’s what I need — regardless of any other factor.
From tayefeth we have:
I’m a beginning fiction writer, mostly fantasy and science fiction. I was wondering if you know of any classes in the New York/New Jersey area that would help me learn to finish my stories. I have several beginnings, but I have a great deal of difficulty turning them into finished stories. I would be grateful for any suggestions you could give me.
I wish I could help you more with this….but the fact is that it’s just not my area. Actually – I would recommend you join the OWW. I have at least two clients that have come out of that and nothing but the highest of praise for it. I’ve also heard some nice things about the Gotham Writing Workshop. If any of my readers who are local to NYC have any advice to offer, feel free to chime in.