Let Them Eat Cake..but no floury details please

Dear Miss Snark,
I do not have a finished novel but I have finished the first draft of one. I have heard several authors recommend that at this point in the writing process one should join a writers group such as Romance Writers of America. My question is do you find that you publish more from writers who have taken this step or is the small group of non-published writers and avid readers I have accumulated to read my ms just as good?

Thank you and feel free to call me a Nitwit now,

well, I would, but you know what you don't know, and that's not nitwittery.

First, let's start with the fact that agents don't publish anything except blog postings and websites. Publishers publish. We represent clients for the sale of their work. I mention this only becuase it's almost a 100% automatic rejection if you put "will you publish my book" in your cover letter.

Second, when you query me, you don't mention what you did to polish up your manuscript any more than Grandmother Snark tells me how she fluffed the eggs sugar and chocolate to make dessert. I know the cake did not spring fully formed onto the plate but the mechanics of the process dont influence my appreciation of the final product. (yummy, by the way).

I don't keep track of what organizations my writers belong to. It doesn't even register when I'm reading their work.


Marissa Doyle said...

Joining the RWA or MWA or another writing organization doesn't just provide potential crit partners--it's where (besides here, of course) you will learn more about the industry, and who's buying what, and where you can take on-line classes to improve your craft, and... well, you get the picture.

If your budget will allow it, join. IMO, it's worth it.

Robin Burcell said...

I had enough confidence (or naivety) in my writing to believe that if I persevered, I would one day be published. However, there is no doubt in my mind that my joining RWA led to that publication much sooner than if I hadn't joined. And when I switched genres (from romance to mystery) joining MWA was clearly a helping factor. (Of course, the biggest factor was the invention of the Word Processor, but we won't go there.)

It's the rare writer who needs no outside connections. And aside from Miss Snark, learning the business and networking can be done via RWA, MWA, SinC, etc. These are invaluable organizations, and can get you expertly past the point of: I've written a book, now what do I do?

domynoe said...

Finding a critique group either online or off is a help as well, I think. Most do more than comment on your manuscript. DII, for example, has forums to help with the entire process of writing, from the very basics to submissions, and even has a section dedicated to markets. Most the other groups I've been a member of do much the same. They want to do more than just comment on your work, they want to give support and information as well.

Inkwolf said...

Agents may not care, but I've seen at least one publisher in the Writer's Market saying they would only accept unsolicited MS from members of the CBWI.

I've had mixed success with critique groups. my little local writer's club is more of a pat-on-the-back social club, though three of the members have published books, now.

I tried joining a CBWI critique group, but t didn't work out. I write humorous fantasy, and they wrote very serious YA, and clearly had no understanding at all of what I was doing. (Seriously--After reading Chapter One. featuring a castle containing a king and queen, a royal wizard getting his moustache fried by a little dragon, and a kitchen-staff panic over fairies, one criticism was "I get no clear sense of the time period.")

So far my best influence has been an online friend, who mainly does the pat-on-the-back thing, but also asks questions which make me think about the characters, and better yet, nags me for the next chapter!

Miss Audrey said...

Inkwolf's comment about his online friend nagging him for the next chapter sparked some great memories.

I am not a typist, although I can fake it pretty good at this point! Thanks to typing up two novel manuscripts and the accompanying rewrites! (And dog knows what all else!)

I had arranged for about four different people to type up my first novel for me. I had written it longhand...

Opal wanted to read my book. I told her that my notebooks were a mess. That didn't stop her from insisting to have a look-see.

I went home and tapped out a chap. She was quite pleased and politely told me that she would be anxiously awaiting her next chapter. Well, that went on and on and before I knew it I had not only typed up the first novel, but I had also completed and typed up the second! (With Opal nipping at my heels all the way! Opal has since moved and drat if I ain't dragging my feet with the third in the trilogy! I'm two-thirds the way done, but without Opal I'm just kind of lost!)

Opal is over ninety years old now. She's reading my Creative Non-Fiction Nanowrimo Lulu published project that I sent her and I'm looking forward to her 'raw' insights and critique. Ninety don't pull no punches!

Hopefully she'll have a little more to say than my mother's Mmmmmmmmm! Guess that's why people wait until they are antique to write memoirs, so that they don't have to concern themselves about what mother might think...

Anyway, I'm on a ramble. I was invited to join a RWA writing group by a published member, but it's just not my genre. Guess I'll stick to what I know, old folks and the honesty of the aged. Harvey was eighty-five and wasn't so sure of my first novel but read it to completion and gave me a huge thumb's up. (I work with the elderly, but neither Opal or Harvey were ever clients of mine, only friends.)

On the back cover of my second self-published Lulu project I'm going to have a picture of the first book's cover and blurbs from Important People (to me) about my first book on Lulu. Kind of like what the "real" writers do...

Sometimes it seems that you just got to dare to break out of the mold and go with your gut.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

Writing is a lonely, lonely business--until, that is, the manuscript is finished. The notion that a publisher or agent should be the first person to critically read your manuscript is naive and dangerous. I am fortunate to have a great critique group who schools me every two weeks, as well as a couple other contacts who ARE NOT FRIENDS. Our relationship is that we critique each other's stuff.

Any organization membership is valuable, and even genre writers can benefit from literary groups, such as Lighthouse Writers in Denver.

Besides, talking writing is just damn fun for us obsessive types, and the husband can only take so much.

EHsquared said...

I had an Opal - mine was a great guy who rode my train to work. He demanded each new chapter until a story that had floundered for over a year was written in months. Unfortunately, upon completion I was naive enough to submit it to agents. After a few rejections (not many) certain questions that had gently nagged at me during the writing became giant concerns. I entered a writing program and found out, in no uncertain terms, that the novel was CRAP. There was a story stuck inside but it was being suffocated by CRAP.

I'm on my fifth revision and I know that without my friend I wouldn't have anything to revise, and without my writing group I wouldn't have anything worth submitting.

There's no exact route but serious criticism (and the guts to know when to ignore people) is absolutely necessary. Ah, such wisdom from an unpublished writer who is still finishing the damn first novel!!!!