Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Fricassee

Good morning!

First of all, I've been enjoying the comments immensely--graphs of response patterns, scientific analysis of said patterns, efforts on behalf of critters to break the response patterns so that all submissions get fair time and attention.

Cool stuff! And especially cool to know that our newbies are having a positive experience here as well.

Several of you have suggested a lottery system, and I may have to implement that next month, because YA and MG are going to be included again (I can hear the kidlitters cheering). I expect another huge response, and I'm going to have to tame this monster somehow.

I don't choose the genres, you see. When an agent graciously agrees to participate in a contest, I post the genres that particular agent reps. It makes no sense whatsoever to open submissions to genres in which the Secret Agent isn't interested. This is, after all, an opportunity for you to get your work in front of an agent's eyeballs. So it had better be something the agent is looking for in the first place.

I'm also going to have to implement the "if you played last month, you can't play again this month" rule. Makes for a big administrative headache for me, but it has to be done. There are just too many of you, and I want to give as many of you a chance as possible.

So I'll be working through all that in the coming weeks, and I'll let you know what I come up with.

In the meantime: Today is #QUERYDAY on Twitter! And you don't need a Twitter account to follow along. Read Colleen Lindsay's post HERE to learn how. Many agents and editors are participating--literally posting what doesn't work for them (and sometimes what does work) as they slog through the queries in their inboxes. So box off a chunk of time and read them as they roll in.

Oh, and did you notice? It's not called #QUERYFAIL anymore. Got rid of that "fail" thing after all. Guess I wasn't the only one who thought the word "fail" was a problem.

Keep your comments on how-to-keep-secret-agent-contests-fair coming! And keep critting 'til your fingers fall off. Our Secret Agent will be unveiled on Monday, and the winners will be posted as well.

Happy weekend, all!


  1. As one of the newbies fortunate enough to get my piece in, I want to say thank you, Authoress, Secret Agent, and all commenters. The feedback is priceless, and I enjoyed the opportunity to read others' submissions, as well.

  2. I think your new rules work well. Maybe split the pot? I haven't entered since I don't have a completed manuscript to enter that isn't already on submission with editors and agents.

    As for the Twitter thing....I'm new to that so explain what the # sign means? =)

  3. Terri --

    Go to and type #queryday in the search box. The tweets will live feed. The hash tag (#) is there so that all non-Twitter folks can read them. =)

  4. Thanks A. How would I post a question or whatever? This Twitter thing is totally confusing!

  5. Have a wonderful weekend, Authoress!

  6. I had a submission in, and received a lot of useful feedback that I greatly appreciate. However, I was a bit surprised by some of the highly negative comments by both readers and the SA (although he or she was fairly tame with mine). I commented on many of the submissions and, even when I didn't like the work, tried to be helpful and encouraging, after all - this was someone's "baby." IMHO.

  7. I thought it was interesting how the "fail" became part of the pop lexicon so quickly. When the BS hit with Amazon, many people were referring to it as "Amazonfail" and not even knowing exactly why.

    I love my little corner of the internet

  8. Hi Authoress,

    I am so happy for you and proud of this site - you've grown tremendously and have been so professional about it.

    I guessed that you would probably have to make some changes, either a lottery or a "if you entered last month, don't enter this month" rule. I just hope you don't implement both! Can we try one or the other?

  9. Thanks again, Authoress, for this opportunity. It was an eye-opener for many, I feel, but I'm not sure in a completely positive way.

    I feel the SA was just a bit too harsh in most cases, which is unfortunate.

  10. Trial and error, Authoress. You'll get the system down and running smoothly. You're doing wonderfully so far!

  11. I'm glad I'm not the only one who doesn't quite get Twitter. I just learned how to blog last month!

    I haven't read too many of the comments this week, but I will this weekend. I know it's hard to take negative feedback (part of why I was relieved not to make it this time:)) but isn't it better to get honest feedback (without being mean) so we can improve? I do try to find something I like in all of the selections and if I can't, I'd prefer not to crit that particular piece at all.

  12. I was one of the entrants and wanted to thank everyone for the feedback! Also, Authoress and Secret Agent for doing this, it's a tremendous service to aspiring writers as we try to "hook" ourselves an agent.

    I also enjoyed reading all the openings. Lots of fun pieces. Writing the first page is so hard!

    Susanne, I agree what you say about honest feedback. Giving constructive feedback is really hard when you don't have a personal relationship with the recipient and you don't know their tolerance level for criticism. But honest criticism from a stranger is priceless.

    Anyhow, fun contests, and I got to peek at the YA genre which isn't something I do often. Lots of charm. I see why people are drawn to it.

    Have a wonderful weekend! AK

  13. Wow after reading the SA's comments, I realized I'm a walking cliche. I'm always rolling my eyes, according to my husband.

    It was fun being on the other side of the critting this time. A lot less stressful. There were some amazing ideas. Too bad the SA has already seen them so many times before. That really surprised me.

  14. What I love about this contest is how I challenge myself to offer feedback honestly - with a keen eye but without harshness. Some of the comments were brutal. I don't mind harsh criticism (and I've had plenty) but it's so public here that I'll think twice before I consider entering (I've never entered a SA contest). The truth is, you can't please everyone -- another truth is that anonymous comments are cowardice imo -- and I take all comments with a grain of salt when I do not know the experience of the person giving their opinion. I know there are people who were hurt by the directness of the SA, and perhaps he or she was just doing what he or she does daily -- a good lesson in skin thickening for the participants!

  15. I don't think the 'if you submitted last month you can't do it this month' rule should be a huge hassle for you. Make it clear that this is the rule, and if you don't follow it, you will be barred from the SA contests for a year.

    And I'm pretty sure that the readership would notice an entry that was duplicated from the previous month, and would tell you about it.

    Don't know how you could prevent the same *author* from applying (with a different MS), though.

    WV: adrothor - mixed-up author? :)

  16. I was thinking about this contest, and realized that it calls for only FINISHED manuscripts. Many of the submissions are clearly rough drafts, in need of editing, spell-checking or a beta-reader. Perhaps it should be more strongly suggested that all of these things occur before submitting? A list of "have you done this?" You can't guarantee authors will adhere, but perhaps you've a better chance of some polished work showing up. I have resisted submitting to the SA contest because I'm ONLY revising my novel for the third time and it's not been line-edited and certainly not ready for an agent.

    Just some thoughts.

  17. Yep, anon, I'm going to be addressing that. :)

  18. As a PB writer, I feel left out. However, I'm not sure how a PB SA submission would work here. After all 250 words would be a sizable portion of my current manuscript. (It clocks in at 687 words.)

  19. What is PB?

    687 words is Flash Fiction - not something agents sell - few even do books of it.

    There are lots of sites and ezines that publish flash fiction or short stories - although short stories are thousands of words.

    I think the focus of this blog is publishing a book, but sorry you feel left out.

  20. PB = Picture Book. Very few agents rep them, as many PB authors sell directly to editors. PB authors also represent a small fraction of readers here, so it would be difficult to accommodate the genre in a contest.

    I don't mean to leave out PB writers...I am one myself! But the focus of this blog and its contests/crits is the novel, for children and adults.