Second thought of the panic variety

I went to a conference a couple of weeks ago, and met two editors who requested my full manuscript. Initially, I thought this was good news, but now I am not so sure. Firstly, I worry they only asked to be polite. Both seemed kind souls, and the conference was oriented to newbies, so they may have been trying to be encouraging. Secondly, as I reread my manuscript before sending it out, it seems to have no redeeming qualities whatsoever. So, my question is, if I chuck this novel under the bed, will the editors remember that I stood them up the next time I query them? I've been trying to improve my manuscript since the conference, but I'm just so nervous about the whole thing, I've had a two week stomachache. What to do?

Send it.
One of the best ways to learn is to DO.
Part of being published is sucking up the nerve to actually send stuff to people.
Even when they ask for it, those suspicious souls.

Most great writers I know are never satisfied with their work.
It maybe true that your work is not ready for publication but actually getting yourself together enough to send it is an important step.

And agents hardly ever do thing like ask for novels just to be nice. And yes, we will remember every last person who fails to send us manuscripts and we will hunt you down and deliver form rejection letters not just for the novel you didn't send but the next, and the next and the next.

Face it, sending it now is really the only safe thing to do.


Anonymous said...

Yes, send it. In my humble experience, agents seldom ask for anything more than partials at conferences unless you really blow them away with your pitch.

I'm not sure about editors because I've never pitched to one. However, I don't think they would ask for the full unless they thought it would be worth their very limited time to read it.

I just sent out two fulls to agents yesterday and like you, I'm totally convinced my novel is no good, LOL. But they wouldn't have asked for the full if they agreed with me...

Anonymous said...

I had a group pitch appointment with an editor who requested fulls from the entire table, all the way around. She invited me to send two.

Eileen said...

Without rejection- what fun would writing be? It allows us to be all aganst ridden and tortured. Send it. You never know.

Sherry said...

You really have nothing to lose by sending it, except a bit of postage. There is almost no chance they will remember your face so you'll be blushing in private if they reject it.

Anonymous said...

I attended a conference where an editor invited the entire table to send the first two chapters. I've been holding off, thinking it might be better to find an agent first, instead of bothering this editor. (She also happens to be a friend of an acquaintance, and I had concerns about embarassing myself and my acquaintance.) Jeez, what a bunch of worrywarts we writers are!

yossarian said...

I agree with Miss Snark.

All writers hate their work sometimes. Some of them hate it all the time.

Anonymous said...

According to the submission policy for the agent I'm about to query, she wants a query letter, the first five pages, and a brief synopsis. The agency's estimated turnaround time is two to three weeks. If the submission interests her, is she likely to ask for just a partial or the whole thing? If she asks for the full, is that a sign of particular interest in the manuscript, or should nothing be read into that?

Yes, writers ARE a big bunch of worrywarts!

Mark said...

Always send it. Nothing will come without this step. And possibly with it.

christine fletcher said...

I also agree. You will always find a reason not to send it. Get it in an envelope and get it on its way. Sending your work out is the gateway to the next level. It's scary. But it's the only way to advance.

And don't minimize your achievement in being asked for fulls. It's too easy, for many of us, to convince ourselves that we didn't earn whatever recognition comes our way. Own it. And stand up to it.

Anonymous said...

Anon #4:

In my search for an agent, what has happened to me is I send a query letter with or without the first five pages. If the agent wants to read more, he/she asks for a partial, then if they like that, they'll ask for a full. It can take some time.

What I've started to do lately is send the query letter with a partial. No one yet has rejected me because I sent something more than what their submission quidelines suggests.

In attending workshops and conferences, I've heard agents say they get so many submissions that most of the time they look for ways to say no. If your query interests them a little, they might not bother to ask for more. But if you include the pages, the agent will at least look at them. Your pages might impress them where your query did not.

It can't hurt, right? And I've found it's been more effective than not.

ScaramoucheX said...

Well,now Snark, I think this is my favourite post for the last several months...exactly what I have needed to hear. Thanks again for the outstanding 'blog, I will write of you one day...you shall hear of me.

Existential Man said...

Here's something for you, Miss Snark, on how to strengthen yourself for wearing stiletto heels--and it's right there at Crunch gym near Times Square: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/

Bernita said...

Miss Snark is correct - as usual.
There does come a point, after all the revisions, the critiques, the research, when you HAVE to test the waters.
Stop gibbering and flicking your lower lip and send it.

Rhonda Stapleton said...

This wasn't my question, but it could have been written by me. LOL

I'm heavily revising and getting ready to send out a couple of partials and a full, and I'm loathing what I wrote. LOL.

Guess I'll just forge ahead and stop beating myself up...good timing, Miss Snark.

Anonymous said...

To the second to last anon--it depends, I think. I got a request for a full from an agent whose website (and everything I've read about her online) says she usually just asks for a partial first. I thought that was a pretty good sign.

Anonymous said...

Rejection is the way to learn how to write! I got so much FREE help from editors along the way. I also paid $250 for an independent editor, which was the least helpful, by the way. So rejection hurts; no doubt. But the pain is or can be the pain of growing as a writer.

Next month my first novel comes out, from a NY house.

Hang tough. It can work.

David Niall Wilson said...

A modicum of self confidence and the knowledge that agents and editors, contrary to what you might read on the Internet or in seamy novels, are people. It's like standing around at a school dance and not asking anyone to hit the floor. Just do it. The very worst that can happen is that the book is awful and they tell you so.

Editors, now, they sometimes request manuscripts, ignore them, lose them and request another copy (lol) You have to keep after them.


Sal said...

A sig line a fellow writer used to use many moons ago went like this:

"The odds are against you, but they are less against you if you actually write and submit something. (Never tell me the odds.)

I had that piece of wisdom on a clip next to my desk for years.

Brady Westwater said...

One final note on this - make certain you have a saved copy on your computer of what you are revising if you suddenly decide you hate what you are writing.

When you are in that frame of mind, you can do a lot of damage...

I also save every day's version of what I write so if I suddenly hate something, I can look back at that passage and see what I have done before.

David Isaak said...

Sal, I prefer this one, from the guy with the Right Stuff:

"When the dream is big enough, the odds don't matter."

--Chuck Yeager

Jane Lebak said...

I'll pass along some advice from my mother which keeps me going when I want to crawl under my bed: "Close your eyes and send it." :-) Good luck!

Jen said...

Sucking up the nerve to send things out is one of the hardest things to do, for me. Or, rather, it *has* been but with practice (OK, doing it), it's getting better. I don't get quite as panicky when I drop something in the mailbox anymore.