A special thanks to William Stadler for sharing his insights on what constitutes a good query letter.
Carrie Rubin does an excellent job answering that question in her post “Contracts, Edits and Errata.” It goes to show how green I am when I confess I didn’t know what an errata is. Carrie explains it and a lot more.
She received an acceptance letter a year ago. It has taken months to go through the editing, re-write and fix process. Now her novel is ready for publication. Next month is the release.
Please visit the link below to learn what happens after the editor says, “Yes, we’d like to publish your manuscript.” Some would say that is when the real work begins.
And, oh yes, congratulations Carrie!
The reader is king.
So, I went looking for what a reader believes makes “a good book.” Reader Subhakar Das shares a thought that should be obvious: he says begin well when telling a story.
Subhakar Das says “There’s nothing quite like a book that grips from the very first line. As a reader I attach a great deal of importance to the first sentence. Every time I open a new book to the first page it is with trepidation for I feel that if the first sentence is not quite right, the whole book will be a disappointment. It is a sentiment shared. But is the first sentence that important?”
As an author, I am guilty of ignoring the power of the opening line. Sure, I understand that the first sentence needs to hook my reader. What I fail to appreciate is the damage done by a poor opening. Agents and acquiring editors will quit reading if the opening sentence doesn’t impress them. Booker Prize winner Ben Okri says that if the first sentence of a book does not grab him, he is liable to close the book then and there.
Das explains, “The magic of the first sentence of a book can also inspire the writer in you. This is Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s impression of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis for before books were meant to help him sleep. He writes: ‘But this time the effect was just the opposite: I never again slept with my former serenity.’ The first sentence he was talking about was: ‘As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed into a gigantic insect.’ Such was the effect of Kafka’s writing, Marquez did not go to the university for the next few days for fear the spell would be broken.”
My advice? Re-examine the opening in the manuscript you are about to hand off to an editor. Be sure it is a zinger!
Recently, I read C. J. Gorden’s post on the writing element called point of view. It was an eye-opener for me. In her post, C.J. talks about taking a manuscript that she believed was editor-ready to a panel for critiquing. She learned much from the comments of the professional readers.
You can read C. J. Gorden’s entire piece here. I recommend it:
Her experience made me realize how uninformed I am as an author. I shoot from the hip. I may be lucky enough to string words together coherently, but I don’t know the first thing about many of the elements that make good, even great, writing.
I think I will follow C. J. Gorden’s example when I think my novel is editor-ready. I will pay a professional to read and critique it.