Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Why Do I Want Perfection?

I just called an author yesterday to discuss representation and she asked a question that I think was very viable. She asked how much revision did I think needed to be done for the story. My answer was simple. I just didn't think there was much I needed to do. I honestly think she was shocked by this.

But here is what I had to say.

When I look for authors, and I read their submissions, I am looking for the best of the best. I don't want mediocre. In many ways, I want that author to come out of the blocks with some amazing stuff. The thing is that the editors are going to want the same thing. They need a book that will be a block buster and not something that will eventually grow on them.

As an agent, I want to see someone that really has some amazing talent and can blow me away. Sure, I know this sounds like an unreasonable expectation, but that is simply the way it is. There is not enough time in the day to train someone to be amazing.

Now, is there a chance we can train a lot of authors to be good? Sure. But we have to remember that this is a business and we can't just use our time to gamble on the chance that something might be good. There has to be more than simply a chance that the potential is there.

O.K. so you might ask where I'm going to with this.

I don't want you to rush your project to an agent. Make sure it really is representing the best of your best I don't want just the best you can do right now. I want your best! You may not be ready this year, but keep working. It will be ready and then we can talk.

Honestly, I have seen far too many authorsthat rush their writing. It is the author's first project and, if they took the time to look at it, they would likely realize that it is really not ready.

I promise. When the time is right. When you have learned your craft. You will achieve something.



  1. I definitely rushed my first few submissions, but you're right. With time and intense studying, practice, and dedication, we become ready. It's not magic, and while talent is involved, it's more than talent too.

  2. This is why I haven't submitted my stories to anyone yet. I'm just now getting to the point were I don't need more tweeks story wise. Grammar, punctuation and over word use and things like that are what I'm looking for now. Once I feel that's the best it can be, (same w/ my query) I will start submitting. I want to make sure I give more than 110% first.

  3. Ok, as a compulsive tweeker, I couldn't possibly not put in my two bits on this. Everything we write and hand over to the world is going to define us, brand us, be used to dissect us. It's in our best interest to dish out perfection, or some form of it. The art of writing taught me that if I create characters I should place myself inside them, breathe their air. Why shouldn't I want them to be the best they can be?

  4. An agent gave me this same message tonight: don't rush to send out your work. Make sure it's the best you can get it. Don't let people pressure you."

    People have been pushing me to "get it out there already", but I know it's not quite there yet.

    The agent and your post are confirmation my instincts are right. Thanks.