Friday, January 4, 2013

Taking Your Time to Get it Right - Natalie Lakosil of Bradford Literary Agency

Taking Your Time to Get it Right

by Natalie Lakosil
of Bradford Literary Agency

I’ve written before on why NaNoWriMo isn’t my favorite; it all circles around the impulsiveness that comes from a freshly finished WIP. Definitely, that accomplishment deserves a BIG CONGRATS WITH LOTS OF CONFETTI AND THIS AWESOME CAT

But then slow down. Funnel that excitement into your NEXT challenge: revising and polishing until it’s PERFECT.


Well now. First, first drafts suck. And you only get one chance; no matter how much you want to try it, unsolicited revise and resubmits (asking an agent to take a look at a revised they didn't ask to see) are not really a good idea - and even solicited revise and resubmits are rare. Why waste that one chance to get it out there? And don't try to fool us; agents have incredible memories. I can spot something I've seen before - and do, often.

If you're worried about market timing, you need to remember that publishing is incredibly cyclical. Today's dead meat will be tomorrow's dinner. I like to reference the romance industry for this, because things turn over in that genre so quickly; around 2006 it was all about erotic romance. Moved on to chick lit and romantic suspense. Then to paranormal. Then to paranormal and historicals. Then to contemporary. Now erotic and contemporary, with a rebirth (sort of) of chick lit emerging in sexy New Adult (not that that's all New Adult is by any means). And next....well, you get it. Every time the market shifted the previous craze was dead. But it all circles back on what a publisher wants, so even if you miss this turn of the wheel, catch it on the next spin.

Last, a good book will sell, no matter what the market is like. No, really. And I don't just mean a good enough book or a good right now book or a good for the genre book; I mean a good, carefully revised, fresh book with a breakout voice, unforgettable characters, and a solid, well-paced and enticing plot. Think you can encompass all of the latter in a first draft? SEND IT TO ME. Otherwise...happy revising!

Natalie Lakosil represents the authors of:

Already Released: 

Not yet released:
Goodreads author


Michelle McLean said...

thrilled to have you here to kick off our conference :) Wonderful post and great advice!

Rachel Harris said...

Love this post--great advice for any author (pre-pubbed and querying, or published) to keep in mind. Especially love the part about it all being cyclical. Thanks, Natalie!

Stephanie Scott said...

Great post, Natalie! Thanks for this very awesome advice.

Angelica R. Jackson said...

That infatuation with your shiny, complete first draft is exactly why you need to set it aside for a time and get some distance. Otherwise, just like a real-life infatuation, you rush into things and annoy your friends by gushing about how perfect it is.

But unlike your friends, agents and editors are not going to smile politely when they see your manuscript is not all you promised it to be. If you're lucky, they'll point out its flaws. If you're not, then a form letter or silence is what you'll get.

I'd heard all this before and still managed to query my first novel too early. So listen to Natalie and give your book the time it needs!

Katrina L. Lantz said...

Thank you, Natalie! Humans are an impatient bunch. Not as impatient as vampires or mermaids, but still impatient enough to rush art. This is a timely reminder to take our time to make good art.

Wrenn said...

So don't throw it away and scream. I get it. Thanks for the encouraging advice. I think we all tend to want to be perfectionists. I know I do.

SF said...

Love this article. When I hear agents reiterating how important it is to slow down and get it just right, all the work I'm doing suddenly seems like it's as it should be. :)

Larissa said...

Great post. :)

Unknown said...

Great advice! It can be so disheartening to see a book come out that's just like the one you spent a year (or two) writing, and resting, and rewriting, and resting... It's always good to hope the cycle could come back around!

Anonymous said...

Super helpful post! Why are we so impulsive? Or maybe its just me.

I'm trying a new approach with my current wip - revise (with cp's feedback) until I'm sick of it, then leave ms alone until I start to miss it (like an old friend). Then pick it up again for another round. Repeat. Well, that's my plan anyway.

Charmaine Clancy said...

Good advice. I think the market will find a way to weed out the dodgy manuscripts.