2.12.2007

But..but...I want you to know it's GOOD without reading actual words

OK, so I know you don't say any of the following in a query (and I know I did in the first query I ever sent):

* My mom loves it.
* My kids say it's better than Harry Potter.
* My old high school creative writing teacher thinks it's brilliant.
* My wife says, "This novel proves you're a genius, now go mow the lawn."

But what if the beta readers include a couple of recognized experts in the field your novel is based on? Like people who've written non-fiction books about the subject or the head of a relevant department at a major museum? What if, to check that you got scenic details right, you checked with a photographer known for his pictures of the place where your work is set?

Do you mention any of that? I mean, I know that the play's the thing, so the story has to be able to sell itself, but will name-dropping expert beta readers help, or are they no different than Cousin Joe, who proved to me my manuscript is good because he only reads crap and hates all things classic, and couldn't get past my first paragraph?

Donning my armor to protect myself against the dreaded clue stick.


What part of no is hard to understand?
No, no and really no.

I don't CARE if those guys liked it. I don't know if they also thought the DaVinci Code should have won the Pulitzer. You can put all that crap in if you want, but I don't read it. I barely read your cover letter cause most of you (yes YOU) can't write an enticing cover letter to save your life. I read your pages.

If Aunt Minnie likes what I like, she's got good taste. If E. Felix Buttonweazer III doesn't like what I like, he's a nitwit, even if he does have a Pulitzer.

Hook, pub credits, bio.
Leave the stroking to the monkey.

4 comments:

Kate said...

Miss Snark, is the knocking sound I can hear in the southern hemisphere your head repeatedly striking your desk?

Anonymous said...

My rule is don't brag. Ever. Modesty is a virtue.

But if Stephen King thinks you're the next big thing, then yes, mention it. Who wouldn't be impressed?

His opinion probably matters more to most agents than Mrs. Pruneface from fifth grade.

But every agent is different.

Kit Whitfield said...

If Stephen King was prepared to give you a brilliant quote, that'd probably be useful to include. But that's only because he's famous and you could use that quote to advertise the book itself.

The people that you're considering quoting are people who helped you with your research; they won't be well known outside their field. Which means that in the field of getting published, alas, they count as amateur opinions. If you were writing a non-fiction book about the museum, say, then the museum curator's good opinion would count, but a museum curator isn't qualified to judge fiction. That's not what they're experts in. They are, I fear, educated Cousin Joes.

It's great that you've done your research, but many a well-researched book is badly written, and if you place too much emphasis on the research, it'll risk looking as if you think all you have to be is factually accurate, rather than readable and entertaining. Sell your book to an editor, and they'll be glad to hear that you've researched properly, as it'll make things easier at the copy-editing stage, but compared with the question 'Do I enjoy reading this book?', how you researched it is very much a side issue. Just go with the writing.

me-oh-my said...

If it's something your expert could give you a foreword for, i.e., NONfiction, then yay.

Otherwise, all you get is cookies.