STATUS: Just my luck that a huge thunderstorm rolls through Denver right as I’m finishing up for the day and the broadband goes out. I’m typing this from home. If it’s not up by tomorrow, I’m going to have to call Comcast so as not to lose Monday as a work day. Just what I need during this busy time.
What’s playing on the iPod right now? I DON’T WANNA TALK ABOUT IT by the Indigo Girls
I really do want to revisit the idea of analyzing bestsellers and really encourage readers to simply note what elements make them tick—what caught hold of the reader’s imagination. Even if you only use it as something that’s at the back of your mind.
I mention this because so many writers seem to write in a vacuum—that they simply write the story “of their heart” without necessarily thinking through the elements that could make the project universal or cross genre or age boundaries.
What happens then, as an agent, is that I end up reading stories where I think, “it’s just not big enough” or “there doesn’t seem to be a strong enough idea to carry the whole story” or “this is solid but it seems to be lacking that extra oomph.” It’s about the writing and this indefinable but crucial element that makes the difference between a pass and a yes.
And it’s also about timing. (You’ve heard that about relationships too, I know. It’s true for that as well.) And writers hate to hear it but timing is often the crucial component for a sale happening. I can’t count the number of sales where the project just happened to land on the editor’s desk at exactly the right time. Maybe an author on their list couldn’t make a deadline and a slot has opened up. The editor is scrambling to find that special manuscript and boom, it lands on his/her desk.
It happens. In fact, it has happened for me and one of my clients this year.
Maybe an editor is thinking “wow, I’d really love to see an XYZ project and the next day I just happen to call about a novel that’s going out on submission, and it’s suddenly like a gift has dropped into the editor’s lap. They read it overnight or whatever.
The crucial component.