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Learning the Writing Business from Book Agents and Editors

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 12:16 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 56.3 
  • Words: 2202
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  So, you just wrote your first science fiction novel. Your friend read it and told you that you were the next Ray Bradbury or Gene Roddenberry. Your fertile mind fantasizes your name up there on a Borders’ wall poster right next to images of Isaac Azimov and Jules Verne. Before going off the deep end and equating yourself with Hemingway and Steinbeck, give your ego a stiff reality check.

  Few of us mortals are literary Mozarts that can plop down in front of a computer screen and author a perfect manuscript the first time around.. Let’s get one thing straight right now. You wrote a manuscript and not a book. After an author takes the time and care to read, edit and rewrite the manuscript at least five times, the work has finally evolved into a publishable book’ manuscript.

  Literary agents have represented my books. Truthfully, I never learned too much from literary agents except that they will show a strong interest in you and your work only if publishers and film producers do. If the power brokers in the literary world think your work is marketable, then you are a viable commodity. If you have no track record in the publishing industry, then forget all about your friend’s praise and about your inflated ego. You’re going to have to accept criticism from your agency’s editors, compromise ideas and plots in your artistic masterpiece, rewrite paragraphs, sentences and pages to conform to editorial evaluations, admit making errors, learn from these “mistakes” and avoid them when constructing future “manuscripts.”

  Although I never learned too much from my literary agents, I absorbed plenty from editors I had worked with. It took me three years to finally master what the editors considered the “mechanics of the writing craft.” I reluctantly learned that good writing involves much more than the demonstration of grammar, spelling and punctuation skills. I picked up a hundred or so suggestions from my “literary editors,” and I will share some of...

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