Monday, November 28, 2011

Give Those Agents a Break!

by Jemi Fraser

So? Are you NaNo-did, NaNo-didn't, NaNo-done or NaNo-brain-dead?

November has been a crazy month for the many writers who participated in NaNoWriMo. A lot of bright and shiny new ideas have taken flight. A lot of shiny new ideas have dulled, dried up and jumped into the recycling box of their own volition.

If you've finished, or are about to finish, your 50k in 30 days, good for you! I'll do a happy dance for you ... once I find my energy again.

Whatever you do, for the love of all that's pure and golden in this universe, do NOT, under any circumstances query your NaNo novel yet! All great NaNo novels (yes, even yours) need to marinate. They need to sit and simmer. And you need to let them.

This is non-negotiable.

Give that novel a few weeks. Then go back. Reread. You'll be amazed at some of the things you've written. You'll find some nuggets of gold. You'll also find some nuggets of ... yeah, that.

Your NaNo needs some loving attention after November is over. Reread. Revise. Revise again. Polish. Shine it up. Then, when you're sure it's the best it can possibly be, that's when you start researching agents who are going to fight over it.

But do those lovely agents you hope to work with one day a great big favour. Don't query yet. You'll be doing yourself a favour too!

Any NaNo stories (success, horror or otherwise) to share?

37 comments:

Lynda R Young said...

Congrats on finishing NaNo. I finished a few minutes ago and I'm thrilled, but there's NO CHANCE my novel is fit for my critique partners, let alone an agent or publisher. It needs some major work, but I'm super excited to keep going and finish...and then edit and edit some more. ;)

Old Kitty said...

HOORAAH FOR YOU JEMI!! You are a WINNER!

And Yay for all you other NaNo-ers!!!! You are all winners and deserve lots of cake and chocolate! Well done!!

And of course you mustn't query yet - this is just the beginning - the hard work and graft are yet to come but maybe after christmas!

Take care
x

Natalie Aguirre said...

That's great advice Jemi. I didn't participate in NaNo but can't imagine querying anything that didn't get multiple revisions first.

Jemi Fraser said...

Lynda - I agree! My novel's still to a lot to go to get anywhere near ready for my crit buddies!! And congrats to you as well :)

Old Kitty - thank you! Chocolate is a good NaNo reward for sure. And mine will be a few months (at least) before it's finished and then edited and then sent to crit buddies...

Natalie - exactly! I think a lot of newbie NaNo-ers don't realize how much work is still to come! :)

JeffO said...

Congrats! I am not a winner this year, but I'm perfectly fine with that. I'll add one thing: finish the story! I rushed last year's to the finish line, 52K words, but it wasn't really finished.

I'm actually going over last year's NaNo now!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Congratulations to all NaNo'ers, whether you made the 50k or not. Just setting out on the journey is an adventure, and stories develop at their own pace.

And Jemi is right -- for the love of God, don't query the thing! I generally don't even let beta readers see a manuscript until Draft 2. And after Draft 3, I go looking for more betas.

I have an agent, but I don't let her see anything until Draft 4 or 5.

Matt Sinclair said...

I'm in the midst of a Nano cautionary tale. My laptop has been on life support holding carefully to my WIP. I need to make sure I have everything I need out of it before I let it meet its replacement. The moral: Save your work.

Talli Roland said...

Yay Jemi! Well done for finishing! And great advice. There's nothing worse than guerying a novel that isn't ready.

Stephen Tremp said...

Congrats! on the milestone. I gad to give it up as November has been crazy busy. Just too much going on to do Nano, even though I signed up for it.

And I agree about the querying issue. If they ask for a few sample chapters, they had better be developed and edited.

Rebecca said...

I've still got a long way to go with my NaNo novel, but don't worry. I wouldn't think of querying with a first draft!

Christopher Hudson said...

Actually, you'd be safe to query an agent with that Nano novel now ... the results will be pretty much the same even if you wait until it is polished to a high luster.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Congratulations, Jemi!
I wrote CassaFire last year during NaNo, but I didn't send it to my publisher until June. I knew it needed a lot of work first!

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

Great advice, Jemi! I finished my 50,000 words the other day as well, but am still trying to actually finish the novel before the end of the month. This is great advice for which many an agent should thank you! :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Jeff - good addition! I probably still have 40k to go in my story... maybe more (which scares me a bit!). I'm almost done with last year's NaNo novel too :)

Dianne - great advice! Even my crit buddies don't see anything until about draft 3 :)

Matt - good advice! I need to do a backup to my external hard drive again! Good luck with yours!

Talli - thank you! I can't even imagine how the agents shudder when the end of November nears :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Stephen - I hope your still having fun with your NaNo story, regardless of the timeline! It's really just about developing habits - which you already have!

Rebecca - yay! It's so important to let it sit - and sometimes so hard to do.

Christopher - do you really think so? I think, for my work anyway, there will be a much better response once I polish. :)

Alex - exactly! And there's a great example of a NaNo success story! :)

Amy - thanks! Congrats to you on the finish. My novel won't be done for a bit - I'm probably not much past half right now! :)

Lisa Gail Green said...

Haha! Congrats. I just finished as well. But like you I have a long way to go! Great advice. PATIENCE is a key virtue for all things writing.

Jemi Fraser said...

Lisa - yay!!! Patience really is a huge asset in this business. Too bad it's so often elusive! :)

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Congratulations on Earning Nano! WTG...You are so right, if you wrote a book in November you need to take some time to polish it and make it shine so when you query it is perfect.

Jemi Fraser said...

Sharon - thank you - it was a fun month! And polishing is SO important for novels - sometimes I need to polish for a looooong time :)

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Congratulations! Good luck with the edits and polishing!

Theresa Milstein said...

Congratulations, Jermi!

I couldn't agree with you more. A rough draft is a rough draft. Somewhere in the last few days I read the advice to put away the NaNo manuscript until Christmas. Then begin editing.

Jemi Fraser said...

Elzabeth - thanks! I need quite a bit more to tell the story, then the editing will commence! :)

Theresa - thank you! Tackling the ms after the new year is probably a really good idea - although I don't think I'll be done my ms by then!

DL Hammons said...

Querying in December is not a good idea for two reasons...#1 Most agents take a break during this time of year. #2 Agents could mistakenly assume a query received during that month is for a NaNo book...which carries a negative association. :)

The Golden Eagle said...

Congratulations on winning NaNoWriMo! :)

I'm definitely keeping this advice in mind . . . though I don't usually show anyone my NaNo projects right after they're done. Not even myself, for a while. :P

Jemi Fraser said...

DL - I agree. Best to wait for the new year on all accounts - and longer if you're querying that NaNo! :)

Golden Eagle - thanks and congrats to you too! :) I think your way is the best way. No one needs to see mine until after a couple of rounds of revisions!

Amie Kaufman said...

Wise, WISE words. My first NaNo was entirely a learning experience -- not even fit for revision afterwards, but at the end of it, I knew I could write a whole book, start to finish. Knowing that was priceless.

Jemi Fraser said...

Amie - thank you! That is definitely one of the best things of nano - showing us we CAN do it. It sure can build some confidence and some good writing habits! :)

Susanne Drazic said...

Hi Jemi! CONGRATS on NaNoWriMo! I finished up this morning. Blogged about my results today. I'm going to let it sit until January and then take a look at it with fresh eyes to see what is salvagable and what is trashable.

Jemi Fraser said...

Thanks Susanne! Congrats to you too! :) There's always something good and wonderful in nano ... but there's always some of that other stuff too!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Congrats, Jemi!
I've never attempted NaNo. I have a book that should've been edited by now, but this has been a rough month for me. Glad I wasn't trying to do NaNo on top of it all.

Jemi Fraser said...

Thanks Diane! :)

You've had a very difficult month (year really) - so I'm glad you didn't try NaNo either. It's a lot of fun, but you can't take it too seriously :)

Medeia Sharif said...

Congratulations, Jemi.

This was all sound advice. You've got to let that draft sit awhile before working on it again.

Jemi Fraser said...

Thanks Medeia! I was amazed what a difference it made the first time I let a draft sit. I saw it much more clearly afterwards!

Leslie Rose said...

Whoo - hoo for your NaNo 50K. Part of the magic of writing is when those idea swoop out of the sky for that MS that is percolating in the drawer. Isn't that why the post-it was invented?

Jemi Fraser said...

Leslie - thank you! So true - those post-its are well used!! :)

TerryLynnJohnson said...

great advice. Especially leaving it for a few weeks. I find that the hardest! I'm always so excited about what I just wrote, I have to remind myself to give it time to settle.

Jemi Fraser said...

Thanks Terry! It is HARD to let the words sit and simmer. But I bet the agents appreciate it when we do! :)