Tuesday, May 22, 2012

On Why You Have To Be AMAZING And Not Just Good

I normally don't watch shows such as American Idol or Dancing With The Stars. For one reason, I really don't have the time to invest in shows such as these. Secondly, I have three kids so frequently we have the Disney channel on or we're watching videos. In any case, last week, I was cleaning up the dinner dishes and American Idol was on. I couldn't find the remote so I was stuck with this on the TV. What I saw was something that really hit home when it comes to writing.

In this case, I guess they were down to the last three competitors and the first person Phillip, sang first and the three judges all liked what he did. The trend was "It was OK." BUT.... they didn't love it.

Technically, there was nothing wrong with the song. They thought he did a great job, but they all noted this was a song and a style he could do in his sleep. It seemed to be the consensus that when it was time to really blow their socks off and do something AMAZING, he just didn't pull the trigger.

The same goes with an author's writing. With the market the way it is right now and publishers still being conservative about who they sign, the "just good" stories are not going to make it in the market. The stories have to be more than technically perfect and more than just O.K.

This does not mean that you need to be over the top and throw something out there for editors and agents that is outrageous just to be different. It simply means that the everyday good story is just not going to be competitive right now.

Yes, I understand that there are some out there that seem to believe that publishers are only looking for that immediate best seller. I cannot deny that editors would love to get their hands on that book; but, in all honesty, that is not what they are looking for. They want something that will blow their socks off. If the story becomes a best seller, then all the more better for finding it.

I would also add that agents are not out looking for that immediate hit either. I have to say, those totally unique stories that really step outside of many current trends tend to be a lot harder to sell. It isn't just the public that we have to sell. It's the editors, the marketing departments, the art department, the business department and the book buyers that we have to convince that this story WILL be successful and not MIGHT be successful.

This is really one of the toughest things to deal with when we are reading submissions. In simple terms, there are some times that we pass on a good story simply because it is just that - "just good." There isn't much we can do with the story to "make it better." There aren't revisions we can recommend to make it "outstanding." The story is what it is.

But, when you are making that "first impression" with an editor or agent, you cannot be like that American Idol and just give us the "OK Project". We want to see amazing!