Ranch life in the Big Sky state through the eyes of one who has lived through it...so far.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Cowgirl's Guide to Literary Agent Feedback

I recently submitted what I considered to be a finished novel to my literary agent. She made suggestions and gave it back. I made some major changes and resubmitted. She made a few more suggestions, and sent it back. I fixed it some more, and resubmitted. As I type these words, she is once again reading the same book for the third time, this time doing line by line edits for things like typos and unnecessary words and stuff that makes her go ‘huh?’.

Have I mentioned that I’ve never paid this woman a dime? And never will, if she doesn’t persuade a publisher to buy this book?

Those of us out here in the West hear all the time about how people in New York City are rude and pushy and don’t care if they hurt your feelings. I can’t say for sure because I’ve never been there. But my agent hangs her hat in downtown Manhattan, and she has developed an entire vocabulary intended to keep the sensitive writerly types on her roster from doing physical harm to ourselves when she tells us what she thinks of our latest effort. I, however, have learned to decipher her secret language. Here’s what she says—and what she really means.

Perfect! – Of course, we both know it’s not perfect. Nothing ever printed or conceived by a human being has ever been perfect. But it’s finally close enough to be seen by a real live editor. Who, should she purchase the manuscript in question, will promptly write up thirty-two pages of edits to be completed prior to publishing. See? Perfect.

Almost perfect – Other than the two hundred and fifty-three extraneous uses of the word ‘just’ and eighty-five sentences that start with ‘And’, plus maybe you could give the climactic scene a touch more oomph?

Getting there – The plot mostly makes sense, none of the minor characters’ names change from Frank to Joe midway through the book, and I don’t have a burning desire to shoot either of the major characters. We are definitely on the right track.

You’ve got a great start here – Holy crap, do we have a lot of work to do.

Hmmm – Hello, recycle bin.

17 comments:

Janet Reid said...

I AM rude and pushy! I am! I am!

Susan Adrian said...

This is almost too painfully true to be funny. Almost, but not quite.

Kari Lynn Dell said...

Well, sure. You'd have to be to survive in that place, wouldn't you?

Steve Ulfelder said...

Here's a harrowing one I've heard that is closely related to "You've got a great start here":

"I really *do* like this book ..."

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

HAHAHAHA!!!

Oh, to read those words one day for myself. :0) Congrats on all your progress!

MitMoi said...

I <3 that Janet is your editor.

And with anyone but Janet ... I think the boot would be on the other foot (ie: agent afraid of the tough cowgirl when they offer their criticism)

Crystal Posey said...

ROFL Awesome.

ArkansasCyndi said...

Here's a great "compliment"...The writing is competent.

Shelby said...

how 'bout outstanding.. outstanding that the agent is so very responsive - and communicates back and forth.. that's really fantastic!

~The South Dakota Cowgirl~ said...

Girl. I was laughing so hard when I read this. My bf looked at me and was like, is so funny. Then I had to read the whole thing to him. I think it's great. What is your book going to be about?

Kari Lynn Dell said...

SDCowgirl: Here's the blurb for my book, which is very tentatively titled "Heading for Trouble"


Jillian Wolff grew up cowgirl tough. She always has a plan, even when things don't go quite like she intended. Bronc rider husband ran off with a rodeo groupie? Fine. Her rope horse Badger is a lot more reliable, and Bill the house goat is better company. She’ll just concentrate on her career, become the youngest head athletic trainer
in the whole damn college conference. Get tenure, and maybe a little action on the side with a good time cowboy. And she's not just talking about roping steers together.

But Jillian's life is starting to go haywire. The ex-husband is back at her college, with his shiny new wife in tow. The football coach doesn't think she can handle her job and has the connections to see that her tenure is denied. Her athletes are hitting her with medical issues no one covered in Sportsmedicine 101. And to top it all off, that good time cowboy has decided it's time to settle down—with Jillian.

Suddenly, despite all her hard work and best laid plans, Jillian Wolff is Heading for Trouble.

ArkansasCyndi said...

Great book blurb. Can't wait to read it. Um, beta reader volunteer...

Julie Butcher-Fedynich said...

I liked this book :D

Gary Corby said...

I can see I got off lightly.

I love the blurb Kari! It's...errr...perfect.

Leona said...

That's awesome! I hope to need this insight soon. Thanks for the tips.

I love your blurb. Keep it up.

Melanie Avila said...

These are hilarious!

Vicki said...

This is a great post!!! I'm thinking blogspot is just keeping us writers on our toes.:)