Do you like to give advice?

Last spring erica and I met at a writing conference in Madison, WI.  While we were there, we pitched our completed novels to several agents, each of whom requested pages.  So far, none have panned out in offers of rep, although erica recently recieved a full request from one.  :0) 

One of the agents who was supposed to attend the conference had been unable to due to an illness or family emergency.  Later, she was still unable to take our pitches via email, so the writer's institute had another agent take the email pitches in her place.

I'd forgotten all about those submissions until yesterday when the agent emailed me. She said she appreciated my pitch and my patience.  She ended the short email message by saying she'd love to take a look at the first 50 pages of my manuscript. 

I'm sure she's taking the pages to be polite, so it'll make it easier for me not to send them.  (Keep in mind she does not (according to her agency's site) represent YA...which is what all of my manuscripts are.  And I was clear about that in my pitch and brief description that I sent her.) However, I need some advice. 

The reason I'm not sending the pages is because since pitching that particular novel  (You may remember the one--Solstice.), I put it in a drawer--where it belongs.  This past summer (after spending a year or so writing, rewriting and rewriting it again), I decided that since it was my very first novel ever, it just wasn't going to be good enough, marketable enough, publishable enough.  Plus, after my final rewriting, I left it with about three plot holes, and when I decided to put it in the drawer, I just left those plot holes laying there (lying there?) without filling them in.


I have since decided to make it (Solstice--(no longer the title btw)) a family saga.  Only now I've begun my newest manuscript two generations before the "Solstice generation" (with the "backstory" of Solstice).  What was Solstice will be a brand new  ms (with the same general characters and plot) and will take place 60 some years in the future--the book after the one I'm currently writing.  (You know, if all goes well with this one.)  Anyways, I'm only 30 pages into my WIP (entitled HIDDEN CHARMS). 

Do I tell the agent all of this?  (You know, it'd be a shame to put to waste the chance to put 50 pages of my writing in an agent's hands....)  (There's always the spin that she may be reading it in case another agent at her agency would like it.  There are several who rep YA at her agency.)

I could offer to send 50 pages of my YA Contemporary that I'm about to query now.

Or should I simply tell her I apprecieate her response, but that I I decided to table that novel to work on another one?

I'd love to know what you advise I do.


While I'm laying all my tales out there for you.  Last week, Suzie Towsend held a query contest.  She agreed to respond to queries (if sent between 9 and 10 on Tuesday morning) via email with her honest thoughts.  I'll admit, I'd hoped for more of a critique of FIXING SHELBY's query than anything else.  I hadn't really looked at it like I was submitting it to her as much as I just wanted to get an agent's view of my query.  Dumb of me, I know.  Obviously I should have considered it a submission.  I mean, I personlized it for her and everything, but I wanted to know what she thought of the writing in the query, the hook, the paragraphs, the layout, the information, etc.  Instead, I got this:

So the news. I'm going to pass on FIXING SHELBY.

The main reason--contemporary YA is a really tough market right now. There have been a lot of them and books that are paranormal are selling better. Nothing about this one seems to say that it would stand out in an overcrowded genre.

Good luck with your submissions.

So that leaves me wondering if I need to change my query, my novel, or both. And, well, take that confession and do with it whatever you want. I'll think on it for a while. But you should know, I really, really hate query writing!


(I miss erica who's still in Vegas.  And now my husband has joined her there.  So I miss him too.  Well, he hasn't joined her there, but he is also in Vegas, for work.  For the whole week.  Just me.  8 months pregnant.  Me and two little boys.  And a dog who takes trips around the neighborhood every time I let him out. (Naughty, naughty boy.)  So, what I'm asking for is this:  Wish me luck!)


  1. Her honest feedback was wonderful. Not always hard to take though. And it has to be up to you whether you submit to that agent. Only you know your work and if it's ready.

  2. Only submit to the agent what she asked for. You can't switch the ms for a different one.

    As for Suzie, another agent might feel differently. I won a full ms crit from her. She wanted me to change my story from suicide to murder. Not happening. There were many reasons for writing the story the way I did. I have no reason to change it to a murder. However, she did give a lot of other VERY helpful comments. She definitely knows her stuff.

    If you query the book and keep getting rejections, then there was probably merit to her comment. Good luck with it!

  3. You have to go with your gut, not the market. It's so subjective and hard to predict. Write what you love, what you must!

    And wow ladies, both with requests, that is AWESOME. I would explain everything to the agent who requested your 50 pages, tell her you'd love her feedback, but wanted to let her know the whole situation before she dove into it. I think she'll appreciate your honesty, and the fact that you're working on more of the series and have become really excited about it.

  4. Is Solstice still tugging at your heart? Could it be THE book for you? If it could, I think the best thing you can do is give it another readthrough, make whatever changes you think you must, and--here's the biggy, hire a professional editor (make sure it's someone who has spent lots of time professionally in the publishing world--there are many freelancers out there now who've lost their jobs in the downturn). The thing is, pro editing costs $$, so you need to feel confident that your writing style and content are high enough quality to justify the investment. You've got a great plan for a series of novels. Search your heart to see how serious you are (and be sure to understand that EVERYONE needs a collaborator to make their work better, and a great editor can make a huge difference). Whew, I guess I DO like to give advice.

  5. Sheesh, I dunno... If you think she's only asking to be polite (though that doesn't sound like an agent... don't they just say no instead?!) and if she doesn't really represent YA, then maybe don't send anything... But it's up to you and your gut!

  6. First of all, you are wished luck. It sounds like you have a busy week ahead of you.

    Second, about Solstice, you should definitely contact the agent. From what I've learned over the past few years, they don't ask for pages to be polite. However, if you really want to change the book, it might be better not to send the pages and and tell her you want to change it to a family saga. Of course, you could always send her the previous draft and tell her you're thinking of changing it. She might have an opinion on that.

    Sorry about Fixing Shelby. She said she didn't think it stood out, so maybe it would help to emphasize what's unique about it in the query.

    Hope this helps.

  7. Why not ask the agent's advice on what you should do? Tell her you want to make it a family saga, and state again that it is YA. Does she have someone in her agency who could be interested? Or would she still like to look at it?

  8. I would very much respond to this agent who's requesting the 50 and tell her what's going on--that you're upgrading that MS to a family saga, which you think is a better fit and would she like to see it then? Also I would mention your other MS that you're about to start querying. Agents do not ask for pages "to be nice." They've got way too much on their plates, trust me. You should not let this opportunity slip by!

    And whatever about that Townsend thing. Write your book, get it as great as you can, and then see what happens! BEST OF LUCK!!! ((hugs))

  9. I agree with most of the above. Be honest with the requesting agent and leave the ball in her court. As to Fixing Shelby, we've been hearing about how tough it is to sell contemp YA for a long time, yet it is still being published. Every agent has a different opinion. But I would get some feedback on your query and see if it sounds like a stand-out concept.

    Good luck! And many hugs!

  10. Awww, I LOVE Leigh's advice above. Whatever, Suzie - there's a lot of other agents out there LOOKING for contemporary YA and all we have to do is find that one (and, well, describe it correctly). Plus, christy, think about it - Shelby as a person wouldn't exist without you. Or Kenz without me. And that DOES mean something!

    (and I'm glad no one noticed the stuff in small print at the bottom. I am NOT stealing your hubby from you, haha!!)


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