Friday, April 26, 2013

First Pages, Prologues, and Agents Pet Peeves, Oh My

Or as has become a most popular panel at the James River Writers Conference each year, First Pages Critiques.    

The Conference is in October - here’s the blurby from the JRW site, if you want more info’ and to keep up with all the news and latest happenings - yes, we have them! - Check in at the JRW site 
And Sign up for the James River Writers Newsletter.

The 2013 James River Writers Conference will be held Saturday & Sunday, October 19-20, at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. Attendees can also register to attend pre-conference master classes Friday, October 18, at the Virginia State Capital.

The First Pages session has also gained ‘other’ names over the years such as ‘Simon Cowell / Idol for Writers’ depending on which agents we get to the Conference, but Really it isn’t That bad.  Really.   And the comments are always helpful to everyone!    It really has been one of the most popular sessions for several years.
So put the Conference dates on your calendar, start saving your money, and while you are waiting check out the authors who are coming to the Conference in their JRW Twitter Chats  -  #JRWC13 -
And check them out on the JRW Goodreads ‘book club’ 

These thoughts on First Pages has been brought about by a Writer Unboxed blog post.
The post is titled       What NOT to do when Beginning your novel.

But as we at the James River Writers Conference call it    1st Pages 
- the importance of those First Pages, and all after that really, cannot be emphasized enough.

You think you’re busy trying to write the dang great novel, agents are inundated with ‘great novels’ all the time.
So get real.   I am Not going to be doom and gloom though, it might take some time, and a Lot of hard work.   But I read something recently that surprised me, several well known writers were saying they knew they weren’t the best writers, that often it’s not the greatest writers that get published, it’s the ones that are driven and never give up.    Does explain some books though doesn’t it.   

The writers and writing teachers were saying that the most gifted extraordinary writers often gave up, rather than persevere.  Rather than figuring out what was going to sell or even making themselves better perhaps.    And it’s a Lot of work!   Not just always trying to write better and be a better writer, but also understanding that books are a business.  And these days it’s even more important to do your research to know what your options are - and what your limits and tolerances are, and to figure out what’s right for You.
Since no matter how much time it takes you to research and write your book, your work isn’t over.  You have to research agents as well.   Not to mention the business of promotion and marketing.  But that’s another discussion.
And since this one is about how Critical and Important those First Pages of your books are, the post on Writer Unboxed gives many agents giving their pet peeves.

One of the things I saw that was probably not intended was what we’ve been told and shown at James River Writers over the years —   agents are human.  They have their likes and dislikes and pet peeves just like the rest of humanity.
Which is why after you Finally get your book finished to the Complete best of your ability, done the best you can, you Have to research agents to try to figure out the best ones you think would be the best ones for your precious work.   Course you do realize that They see Lots of people’s precious work so as anything in that much abundance, it loses it’s preciousness in those kind of quantities.  Right?   Yeah, yeah, not what we want but if you can embrace that, even a little, it’s helpful, believe me.
After you have researched your group of agents to send to, and Perfected your Query letter [another discussion] [and after perfecting your book, remember] and sit and anxiously wait, and perhaps get the dreaded Reject letter, it’s okay to sit and blink a moment.  Then dust yourself off and research and send to more.  Remember the surprising comment above about great versus persevering writers.  Persevering writers who are working to get better we hope.

As the Writer Unboxed post highlights, agents are human, likes, dislikes, bad days and all the rest.  Just because one thinks your precious stinks and sucks the universe, doesn’t mean every one will.  
Remember, Every reader is different too.   We all don’t like the same books so why would agents.
Hang in there.    Believe me, most writers have been where you are - wherever that is!
Keep at it.  

The post I keep talking about on Writer Unboxed is here.