• Liz Gelb-O\'Connor
  • Just finish the first draft of your novel? Please don't send it to agents...
Just finish the first draft of your novel? Please don't send it to agents...

Or hit ‘Publish’ on Amazon if you’re self-pubbing!

The first thing that comes to mind when I see first time writers, such as myself, post something on one of the threads to the effect of: “I just finished writing my novel, and I’m ready to query agents. Does anyone have any advice?”  The robot from the 1960s show Lost in Space pops into my head yelling, “Warning, warning, Will Robinson!”

When prodded, they may not be talking about a fully edited book, they're usually talking about their first draft (or even their second).

I’m knee deep in revisions. If my editor is reading this, please close your eyes and try not to kill me. I know… I need to write the ending of book two. That’s my plan for this weekend.  Sorry all, but I digress.

My first novel, which I naively considered finished on St. Patrick’s Day, 2012, has undergone quite a bit of development, review, and revision since then based on feedback from editors, critique groups, beta readers, and even an agent or two. My hope is that now it is closer to being finished and something worthy of being published.

My most recent revisions, completed about a week ago, included writing two new chapters to start the book. Plus, I needed to reorder the first eight chapters to increase action and add more tension.  Let me mention, this is my third Chapter 1. To top it off, I’m now re-working Chapter 1 on my second book, and I haven’t even finished writing it yet (A note to my editor: I promise the first draft will be done by August!)

My point, after all this set-up, is for first-time authors who think the next step after completion of their first draft is to query agents and publishers - let me say this with as much love in my heart as possible - Don’t even think about it. Unless your plan is to use your rejection letters to wallpaper your spare room.

Chances are if you’re like me, or any of the other new authors I’ve critiqued or beta read for, you’ve committed errors you weren’t even aware of – some of them egregious. Trust me, as much as you’d like to think agents and editors will overlook your transgressions and see your brilliance shine through your submission—they won’t.  As one agent said at the Writer’s Digest Conference East in April, “I can fix plot, but I can’t fix craft.”

So, here is some advice to consider BEFORE sending out work to Agents and Editors and clogging up their already overstuffed inboxes:

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  • Liz Gelb-O\'Connor

    Thanks, Kate. I'll check out bloglovin.com, it sounds great! I was always wondering if something like it exisited.

  • Kate Powell

    Read your blog and enjoyed it -- we are finishing a book and I know I need to get input on it, as it has grown to a long book, and I intended a shorter novel.  

    Suggestion:  List your blog on bloglovin.com.  I have been annoyed with all the different blogs of late and bloglovin sends one email per day with updates from the blogs you subscribe to -- quite nice.  I would like to subscribe to yours.

    Best, Kate