Careful Revision vs. Seizing Opportunity...

The writing process, writing advice, and updates on your work in progress
Post Reply
SarahEMC2
Posts: 11
Joined: February 4th, 2010, 9:01 pm
Contact:

Careful Revision vs. Seizing Opportunity...

Post by SarahEMC2 » February 4th, 2010, 9:21 pm

Dear Fellow Writers,

Sorry to be introducing myself in the forums with a question of my own... I've been lurking, but haven't the experience to think I had anything to add to your own questions and instead just learned along with you as I read the responses.

I am currently facing a "to query or not to query" dilemma. I am working on a memoir about my friendship with a homeless man, but I am only on the third draft, and it feels very undercooked. I had planned on finishing the work over the next year, and then querying agents.

HOWEVER, I have stumbled on to some very good luck; an abbreviated essay version of the first four chapters has been published in a prestigious literary journal and the essay has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Now, I have only a number of months between being able to say that I have been nominated in a query letter, and having instead to say that I was nominated but did not win. (Winning would be nice, but I certainly don't want to bank on it, and in truth imagine it's a very unlikely thing.)

What I currently have is raw; I could have something half-cooked in a couple of months, provided I stopped doing frivolous things like sleeping and reading publishing industry blogs. (Not this one, of course, this one is essential to my daily well-being!)

Would you query with a manuscript whose later chapters were still fairly rough in order to seize the opportunity to say you were a current nominee for a prestigious prize, or would you hold off on querying until you were fully satisfied that you had taken your work as far as you could on your own? (Which is, of course, a lie. No manuscript is ever written by one person alone. So maybe instead I should say, "...as far as you and your trusted readers can take it toward finished?")

Thanks in advance for your input, and I promise that as soon as I know anything at all about publishing, I will join in answering the questions you post.

S

User avatar
christi
Posts: 166
Joined: January 31st, 2010, 3:54 pm
Location: Texas
Contact:

Re: Careful Revision vs. Seizing Opportunity...

Post by christi » February 4th, 2010, 9:48 pm

You should never, in my opinion, submit a manuscript that you are not confident in. If you know it is rough and purposefully send it in as rough, that translates to 'amateur' to an agent. Not only that, but Nathan once said that nominations don't mean a whole lot. He said that a person can nominate themselves for a Pulitzer for $50.00, so an agent would really only care about a winner. When you are confident in your work, it will reflect in your writing. Don't give an agent a poor manuscript. It'll only bite you in the butt later.
Would you sign my story for a Klondike bar?

http://christigoddard.blogspot.com/

User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1381
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Careful Revision vs. Seizing Opportunity...

Post by Nathan Bransford » February 4th, 2010, 10:44 pm

christi wrote:You should never, in my opinion, submit a manuscript that you are not confident in. If you know it is rough and purposefully send it in as rough, that translates to 'amateur' to an agent. Not only that, but Nathan once said that nominations don't mean a whole lot. He said that a person can nominate themselves for a Pulitzer for $50.00, so an agent would really only care about a winner. When you are confident in your work, it will reflect in your writing. Don't give an agent a poor manuscript. It'll only bite you in the butt later.
What Christi said. I'd much, much rather that someone waited until the manuscript was truly ready than rushing through to send it off.

User avatar
Jaime
Posts: 159
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 7:00 pm
Location: Australia
Contact:

Re: Careful Revision vs. Seizing Opportunity...

Post by Jaime » February 5th, 2010, 12:02 am

Hi SarahEMC2,

I don't know much about the publishing industry. Nathan's blog has been a bible for me, and these forums are great for meeting others who are in our boat. Okay, okay. I can't resist. "We're gonna need a bigger boat."

Jaws rocks.

Obviously Christi and Nathan have answered your question, but I would still like to add this: don't sell yourself short. The fact that you have been published in a prestigious literary journal will be a plus in your query, whether you have won the Pushcart Prize, or not. That should be enough to boost your confidence, and just imagine how wonderful your MS will be when you've finished it, and edited it to perfection (if there is such a thing - I've been editing for six months now, and it will most likely be another month before I start sending out queries!).

Congrats on your achievement, Sarah. You should be very proud of yourself.

Jaime :)

User avatar
Bryan Russell/Ink
Posts: 430
Joined: December 20th, 2009, 10:44 pm
Contact:

Re: Careful Revision vs. Seizing Opportunity...

Post by Bryan Russell/Ink » February 5th, 2010, 10:58 am

I'll, um, fourth what everyone else said. And just add that I think saying "I was nominated for a pushcart prize" is just as good as saying "I am nominated for a pushcart prize". I think they hold equal value, really. Not quite as nice as winning the pushcart prize... but in the end it's the writing that matters. And if you send it in now and say you are nominated... well, the agent's going to find out the results at some point anyway, and I don't think they're going to take you on in the meantime just on that possbility.

Just my take.

And congrats on the nomination.

Ink
The Alchemy of Writing at www.alchemyofwriting.blogspot.com

SarahEMC2
Posts: 11
Joined: February 4th, 2010, 9:01 pm
Contact:

Re: Careful Revision vs. Seizing Opportunity...

Post by SarahEMC2 » February 5th, 2010, 11:48 am

Thanks, all, for your guidance. I was getting some push from one of my trusted readers to "get this out the door while it's got some pull," and I never discount advice from this reader without giving it a lot of thought. But you have reaffirmed my sense that I should wait until the final polish is on before I query.

Thank you!

S

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 10 guests