5.23.2006

Don't wear Keds to the prom

Dear Miss Snark:
Thank you for helping so many writers. It is very kind of you. I have just finished a literary novel and I have a chance to have it read by two best-selling authors. This is a very important chance for me and I want to submit it to them correctly. Should I give it to them double or signal spaced? It is 125,000 words. Should it be bound or unbound?
Many thanks and best regards,



Um...are you giving it to them so they will blurb it?
So they will critque it?

What you want them to do has a significant impact on presentation choices.

If you want a critique you send manuscript pages just like you do to an agent. Observe standard form.

If you want a blurb, I always put it in "as close to book form" as possible. Typeset, bound, trimmed if I can, and actual galleys if I can do that too.

Make sure you include a cover sheet with your contact info.

9 comments:

Mark said...

Why so damned long?

McKoala said...

The spelling worries me.

RB said...

Good luck with your two reads. I also had this opportunity. (My book was close to 100k, because that's how long it took to tell the story.) The NYT author that *offered* to read it, was very generous with her time. I sent it just as I would to an agent or editor. Double spaced, 12 pt. font, etc.

The good news? I sold it. Because she'd read it, she agreed to blurb it when it came out. She did ask to read it again, because she had specified certain things that she felt needed to be changed. (And perhaps wanted to see if I'd changed them?) In that case, I sent a bound copy to her (which was essentially the same, just taken to Kinko's or something, bound and cover placed over it.

I will never forget her generosity, and I wish you all the success in your endeavor. Make sure you thank them both in the acknowledgements and send out a copy when you sell!

Anonymous said...

What's "signaled" space?

Anonymous said...

How do you get a best-selling author to critique your manuscript?

Anonymous said...

Guys. It's a frigging blog. Let's assume that anyone who has the offer of two bestselling authors to read their work will take the time to look for typos in their work (as opposed to any that escaped notice in sending a hopeful inquiry to Miss Snark.) Go drink a pail of gin and chill, for dog's sake. Even Miss Snark makes the occasional typo, and no one is coming down on her, or assuming that she can't agent.

Why is it that when someone has good fortune, those who -don't- feel the need to nitpick--whether it is for minor typos or word count, or whatever else. What it boils down to is that if you tell a good enough story, a few typos or too long word count is NOT going to prevent a sale. A good editor will get past this. Notice that the original query was not about if Miss Snark thought her book was too long? Or what if there were mistakes in it? Miss Snark, no doubt, knew this, as she didn't address either point.

Anonymous said...

rb,
did you thank in your acknowledgments the same people whose blurbs and names appeared on the back of your book? i thought that thanking one's blurber (even for critiquing) makes it appear that the blurb might have been done out of friendship, or at least that SOME prior relationship existed that might have prompted the blurb. whereas an unthanked blurb looks more like a mini-book review, something the book earned because it's just so damned excellent. (not that you wouldn't write a thank-you note to a reviewer--you just wouldn't print it in your acknowledgments.) i'd appreciate your take on this. you too, miss snark, if you don't mind. many thanks.

RB said...

I did thank her in the acknowledgments, primarily because she gave me some writing advice that referenced another work by another artist that made it all clear. But I was careful to write it in such a way so that it wouldn't seem like I was thanking her for the blurb.

Blurbs are such funny things. Before I started writing, I told myself that my fave author blurbed this book! I have to buy it. So the way I see it (and having the knowledge that just because fave author blurbs a book doesn't mean that book is going to be like fave author's books) by the time your average reader picks up the book, reads fave author's blurb, buys the book, reads it, the acknowledgments don't figure in that much, so I wouldn't worry about it. But that was a rare case, because NYT author read it first as a favor.

This would be different from the blurbs I've gotten on other books, where no writing advice was given. In those cases, I don't put anything in the acknowledgments. I do send a book and thank you card to author if I have address, or to their editor or agent if I don't.

Another poster asked how one gets NYT authors to read one's work? Networking. conferences. Don't be a pest. Be genuine. Join local writers groups, and you'll meet someone who knows someone. Go to conferences, and they'll introduce you to someone else. The majority of the time, you're not going to get this opportunity unless you are on the cutting edge, because your connections aren't going to waste their time or the time of NYT authors with someone who isn't ready for prime time. Nor would you want this opportunity before you are really, really ready, because it *is* the opportunity of a lifetime, and you really want that best foot, or page, as the case may be, forward.

Tom said...

I thought the term "literary novel" had been banished from Snarkdom...