Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fan Fiction and Other Things...

So now that I'm cyberstalking agents trying to figure out whom to query and how to tailor their letters I frequently stumble across frightening, distressing blogs and stories on the internet. A couple of my pie in the sky choices have agented some high profile authors and books (hey, shoot for the moon, right?) and are obviously being stalked by lots of other wannabes.

Like me, many of them blog.

I have an unofficial personal blog policy of not naming names. It could be distressing if the named ever read it and besides, once it's out there I can't take it back. So without naming names I feel free to say that there is some really bad stuff out there. And it's getting sent to agents I want to query. I know, objectively, (people who know me will tell you I'm pretty good at being objective, even if it means taking criticism) that what I write is better than much of what I'm reading. Not just grammatically. I found one today that actually posted fan fiction on characters I'd read. It was painful. Trite, cliched, and clearly intended to mimic the voice of the author but without success. I cringed, literally cringed, while reading it. The poster was obviously proud of the effort and has written a book they want to submit to my dream agent. Said dream agent must get a ton of really bad submissions.

This should be a comfort. But it is not. I'm doing the same thing a gazillion other wannabes are doing and we're flooding the market. If I were an agent trying to slog through fifty queries in between doing work for actual clients my eyes would bleed. How does it not all run together? What on earth could I put in my query letter to let them know that I am not one of those people? The answer: absolutely nothing. All I can do is make it clean, to the point, and not gushy. And hope something about my query attracts the reader's attention enough to prompt further investigation.

There is some really good stuff out there, too, don't get me wrong. It's just demoralizing to share ambition with people who obviously think their work is just as good as anybody's when it definitely isn't. The implication is obvious. What if, in truth, I AM one of those people? And if I'm not how will an agent ever know?

Too bad they don't grade on a curve.


  1. I know you are aiming high. That's a great thing. In the mean time, have you tried going to any conferences where you can pitch? Or submitting to some of the e-publishers who are more willing to take a risk on unknowns. The least it will do is pad your resume. I know some people turn their noses up at some of these smaller presses and epubs, but some of them are putting out some great stories. And you get personal attention. Not a bad thing for a newbie like me. My hope is that I'm learning a lot about the process which will in the long run make me a better author and more marketable.
    That's my two cents which is probably about all it's worth.

  2. This is a very hard process, but with many rewards tossed in along the way --like making friends on the blogs. I try to avoid agent blogs because they intimidate me, but once in a while I'll get sucked in.
    Try not to worry what others are doing. Just focus on your own game and you'll reach your goal much faster.
    Ha! Didn't expect to lecture. I guess it's about time to look for my kids because it's clearly in my system at the moment.

  3. Jennifer,

    I have no aversion to smaller presses or epub! I think they are the wave of the future and I would love to be on the cutting edge for once.


    You are so right! I need to back slowly away from the internet. Except for your blog. And Jennifer's. You guys need to check each other out...two of the funniest people I know on the internet. Since Jennifer and I met in first grade I can tell you she is equally funny in person. I have no doubt you are, too!

  4. Laurel, the same is my concern--I follow quite a few blogs of aspiring authors and they all write great YA fiction. I ask myself everyday how I can expect to beat the crowd.

    It's a good thing, regardless, to aim high! I'm glad that you've found yourself at this part of the process. I queried for a novel a long time ago--before I realized I had to sit down and churn out a few different works to determine my voice--and it was, by far, the funnest part of the experience.

    Best of luck! I'll check in again soon!