Awhile ago, I asked an author to send me the first chapter of a manuscript they had queried. The author was unpublished, but they had an ok platform, which made me think that if the writing was fabulous I could maybe get somewhere with the project.
But the writing wasn’t fabulous. It lacked emotion and jumped around too much to allow the reader any sort of bearings. So, I declined representation, citing the author’s writing as my primary reason.
And here’s where it gets sad.
The author wrote me backing saying that they knew the manuscript was weak—that it was in fact the weakest of their manuscripts—but that they had sent it out anyway without really considering how it would affect the aftermath.
I’m not sure what advice writers are getting these days, but it appears as though it’s the general mindset that agents and editors exist to perfect, polish and publish. That we love spending our time teaching writers storytelling basics and that we’re much more energized by the possibility of what could be than the reality of what is.
Um... Folks, I think that’s a load of crap.
Over and over I come across brilliant story ideas backed by wonky rough drafts, exciting plotlines headlined by cookie cutter characters, and moving scenes flooded with embarrassing grammar and punctuation.
And I reject every one.
This isn’t a race, folks. There are no extra points for finishing first. But there are extra points for finishing with a publishable manuscript.
Don’t query until the manuscript is perfect. You’ll save yourself a lot of heartache.
- Amanda Luedeke is an Agent at MacGregor Literary