Monday, July 16, 2007

Getting Closer...and More Specific

For those of you still wondering when I might open to new submissions, I wanted to let you know that we are finally getting through our large backlog of full manuscripts, so we are, in fact, getting closer to a place where we will be opening up. For those of you who are interested, the first thing I am going to do is request materials from those authors whose query letters or partials I have been saving up but never answered. So if you are one of those authors, you should be hearing from us one way or another soon.

The next thing we will be doing is completely revising our “What We Want” page. We have begun revising this listing offline and I will be taking a two-pronged approach to this: First we will have a list on the website but, second, I will be going on at greater length in my blog about what we want. The challenge of course is not to just say “fiction” or “nonfiction.”

The truth is, no agent wants to be a barn door at which authors keep throwing things, trying to see what sticks. When I was a single guy, I did a lot of online dating (hey, it worked; I met my wife online). At the beginning, I’d meet just about anyone who sounded interesting and interested. I even met women who didn’t have a photo up! But after a while, I started to get more and more specific about what I wanted. And I started to learn to read between the lines on women’s postings. I could quickly tell which women were “high maintenance,” which really doesn’t work for me. And obviously I could tell which ones could write (many points for the good writers). I discovered that by being more specific and reading more closely, I met women closer and closer to what I hoped to find. In the end, I met my lovely wife (hi sweetie!), who, in the words of Goldilocks, was “just right.”

I’d like to use that same approach here. Some editors will tell you “I want best-sellers,” and every agent I know would hear that and, inside their heads, say “No kidding” (actually, they’d be saying something else, but I’m trying to keep it clean). We all want best-sellers, and if I could tell what will be a best-seller, I wouldn’t need editors. I’d open a publishing house that only published best-sellers.

But other editors will be more specific. Take one editor who recently told me that she hates “high-concept” thrillers, and for her a good thriller is “character-driven” and “involves a puzzle that the reader can try and figure out, along with the main character.” Now THAT I can focus on. That I can look for. And I will. So if you have one of those, get ready to query me soon, when I’m open to submissions.

Keep on reading here. More is definitely to come.


1 comment:

luv2write said...

Mr. Zack,

I actually came across this site by accident and couldn't help but comment on this...I'd just like to say that it's very commendable of you to close submissions b/c you're overwhelmed; honestly. After leaving my agent and now trying to find a new one, I find it incredibly frustrating when I receive responses to my queries that say: "Our client list is simply too full to take on another project; it has nothing to do with yours." If that's the case then, why take submissions at all and continue to waste an author's time? Craziness!
Regardless, you've shown a spine and admire that; I'll be sure to check back to see when you're open to submissions wishes!

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