Friday, January 29, 2010

Speed reading for the impaired

I will be the first to admit that, while I read everyone's guidelines I submit to, I read them quickly. I take brief, illegible notes and submit based on my chicken scratches. This doesn't always work out for me. I am sure I have messed up formatting, especially those clearly outside of the norm. With agents it is worse. I have been subbing to agents looking for a taker on my MG book. It has a couple of things going against it. It is short (although just right for the standard MG book at 26K) and it contains no supernatural elements. My characters aren't witches or vampires. They don't go hunting zombies or try to save the world. They are kids who have an adventure. Just like any kid could. It is the kind of book I read when I was ten. Just before I found my dad's copy of Robert Bloch's Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper.

My query has gotten some responses. A partial, quite a few flat out rejections and some very nice personal rejections. Yesterday I found out that my speed reading of guidelines got me in a bit of trouble. If I had been the agent I would have given me a Rejection on the spot. I didn't follow the guidelines. I sent my query and I, even after re-reading the guidelines, missed the part about the first ten pages. I was lucky enough that she invited me to re-submit (with emphasis on ACCORDING TO OUR GUIDELINES). I don't know if my query caught her eye or she is a nice agent who believes in second chances. Either way I am thankful for the second chance.

That is all. Have a nice weekend.

13 comments:

Aaron Polson said...

Guidelines have tripped me up from time to time, but not as much as spelling an agent's name wrong. Once.

Never. Happen. Again.

Aaron Polson said...

Good luck with the queries, by the way. ;)

Jamie Eyberg said...

Aaron, I can see how that can happen. Really. I think I have done that on short story covers letters before.

katey said...

I realize that they get a lot of queries that blatantly disregard their guidelines/address things to "dear agent"/do other ridiculous things that show a lack of reading comprehension. But I think the smartest ones can tell the difference between a mistake and an asshole. Nathan Bransford always says he never auto-rejects a query, even if they call him by the wrong name. Probably part of why he's so awesome, right?

I'm sure I've made some incredible mistakes in my queries and submissions over the last few years. I shudder to think of all the mistakes I'll make when I do the next round. But it's worth it just for one partial request, innit? :D

Jamie Eyberg said...

Totally worth it, Katey. I love it when editors and agents get my name wrong, or my story title completely wrong. It lets me know they are human too. It also makes me wonder if they read what I sent them. :)

Barry Napier said...

I say again, good luck with this MG novel. I've had a good feeling about it from the beginning

Cate Gardner said...

Ah, my favourite faux pas is forgetting to attach the story. I've done it a couple of times. Doh!

And of course, fingers crossed and all that.

Natalie L. Sin said...

I've done worse: I used to send a certain e-zine personal emails, because they're address and MY address was very similar. So, sometimes I'd click the wrong one on gmail *blushes*

Ann Eyberg said...

Anyone who passes on this story doesn't know what they're missing. Its a good book. Really. I'm his toughest critic, very at the ready to say, "I don't like it."

K.C. Shaw said...

That was nice of her. It's easy to miss details, especially in those guidelines that are really long and specific.

That's awesome that you're getting some nibbles and personal responses! Not every MG book has to have supernatural elements; you're probably going to stand out just because of that.

Anonymous said...
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Danielle Ferries said...

Fingers crossed for the second chance.

Jamie Eyberg said...

Barry, I hope you and my wife are correct.

Cate, I think we have all been there. Or sending the wrong story. I have done that before.

Nat, that is just funny. You were probably going, "Where the hell did my email go." and on the other end they are scratching their heads going, "I don't know who she is but she keeps sending us stuff."

K.C., It wasn't that her guidelines were so long or specific, I have determined it to be the font and background/foreground color that was making it hard to focus. Weird how that works sometimes.

Danielle, indeed! Just don't forget to uncross them when you are typing on your own stories. :)