Chick lit writer driven to drink

I am currently at work on my second novel, a chick lit romp I can only pray will read as witty and fun as the work of Jennifer Weiner and Marian Keyes. I have no publishing credit in this genre, only a few random pieces of freelance travel writing.

Should I currently be more focused on getting short stories published so as to perk up my query letter for this novel? Should the travel pieces be mentioned at all, especially since they were written for obscure publications?

I'm just a bit disheartened at the moment as I just read an interview with a big-time
agent who stated that most agents don't truly consider first time authors with no publishing credit. Woe is me! May I borrow your gin pail?

No. I need it, particularly first thing in the morning.

Finish your novel.
Then, as you let it sit and percolate (cause you DO NOT SEND IT OUT before you've let it sit and percolate) you can work on short stories. Then when you've done all ten drafts of the novel that you need to do (no, I'm not kidding), you query. Mention the travel pieces, even if they are obscure. If, by that time, you have sold stories, you can mention that too.

Voice is almost everything in chick lit. You can fix plot, heck Miss Snark can fix plot, but voice is critical piece and the only one who can do that is you. If an agent loves it, s/he's going to take it on. Previous publishing credits don't matter as much here as they do for say literary fiction.

And I'm not kidding about drafts. The biggest mistake writers make is sending their work out too soon. It's how you miss the stupid typos, it's how you miss the forest cause you have your nose up a tree...yadda yadda yadda.

And don't worry about big time agent blather. First, two of the very best agents for this genre are probably off your radar screen completely (Kristin Nelson and Paige Wheeler). There are 750 agents in this industry and most of us are looking HARD for good chick lit.

Write well. That's all. (and don't think I didn't see you try to steal that gin pail).


ilona said...

I'm not a chick-lit author, but I basically had no short stories out, except for a flash and a semi-pro short, and still somebody took a chance on me :)

I can't write a short story if my life depended on it. I also personally know at least two new authors, one with a YA and the other one with a 3-book fantasy deal neither of whom had massive short story sales to their credit.

There is hope for us, non-short story-selling fiends.

Rick said...

Count me in as another non-short writer - my attempts at short stories have always come out as either vignettes or Readers Digested novels. I wish I could write them, because SF/F has a significant market for short fiction, one of the few genres that do. Mysteries have a couple of short markets, but not as much, and lit fic has those "little" magazines. But so far as I know, romance, chick lit, and plain old mainstream are pretty grim.

As an aside, years ago I bought a couple of biker magazines, because I knew they published some fiction, and I figured how hard could it be to get published in a biker zine? I discovered two things. One: that the protagonists in biker zine stories have always done time in prison. Two: that the stories are damn well-written!

Remodeling Repartee said...

I can't say enough good about Paige Wheeler and her partner at CMA, Lisa Van Auken. I met them at the Yosemite Writers Conference last August and they are consumate pro's.

Thank you Miss Snark, for validating the drafting process. I finished my chick lit nine months ago, but in the ensuing set-aside--and-percolation time, I rewrote it entirely; resulting in a fast-paced yet layered, three dimensional product. (Its pushing 120K, though Marian Keyes runs into that area regularly. I tried valiantly, obsessively, to remove a subplot or two in the rewrite, but the weave gapped).

Just last month, after reading an S.J. Rozan detective story, I saw something in the way she did dialogue that I copied to increase the pace and shave nearly 100 words per 10 pages.

I've received pressure and near ridicule from family as well as my critique group, as if fear or low self esteem were the reasons I hadn't sent it out.

No, it just wasn't ready. Now it's close.

Anonymous said...

Ms Snark says...

"There are 750 agents in this industry and most of us are looking HARD for good chick lit."

What about Mom-lit, Ms Snark? What are the things an editor is looking for in that genre? Chic-lit has evolved a lot since it's inception, has Mom-lit?