Thursday, July 19, 2007

Opinions Vary Widely

I recently completed a novel for junior readers. It has been read by one well-published children's author who said: "This is superb! You have nailed Tansy's voice. You've set up her wants and needs brilliantly. The reader is drawn into the story in the very first paragraph and you never let up. I also like the varied sentence structure and the richness of description so very observant."
This book has also been read by another writer whose adult books are published by an imprint I'm thinking of submitting to. She also thinks my book is "well-written, and easily publishable."
Would it be useful and/or advisable to excerpt these comments in my query to publishers? Or should I perhaps merely mention writer #1's name as someone recognizable who thinks the ms is worth considering? Or should I forget both of them and let the publisher decide whether to request the full ms based on the merit of my synopsis, sample chapters and short bio?
While I don't want to let this opportunity to have someone else blow my horn slip by, I also don't want to overload my query with testimonials that might not carry any weight (and use up valuable space on my one-page query letter).

Unless either of these people is the sort of person that editors ask for quotes, skip it. I don't care what people who I don't know think of a manuscript. Every acquisition decision reflects on my career, so guess whose advice I'll be taking? That's right.


Joni said...

Both those reactions sound very positive... except I'm a little concerned by "I also liked the varied sentence structure..." That seems like a red flag, akin to, "It's so wonderful that your spelling is correct and your margins are neat." It's the sort of thing I say in critiques for strangers when I'm really struggling to find something positive to point out (and I don't want to overwhelm them with negatives).

It's a moot point for the questioner, and clearly there was lots of other praise there, but I'm curious what anybody else thinks...?

Anonymous said...

You could be right, joni. But it's also possible the author was just summing up her positive impressions of both the story and the writing.

I know it seems a shame to pass up the opportunity for a blurb from someone well known. But I wouldn't use it, for two reasons besides EA's. First, I wouldn't use it without the well-known author's permission. Only if she gave it, or wants to recommend you to her agent or something, can you KNOW that she loved it. Second, unless the publisher you are subbing to publishes the w-k a, you don't know how the editor feels about her work, and therefore, her opinion. If she thinks w-k's writing stinks, you're in trouble.

Judy said...

I really wish you anonymous people would get names...even if it still leaves you anonymous, just so the rest of us can tell if we are hearing one person's opinion or opinions of a variety of anonymous people. Not relevant on THIS post, but on some it is...

Anonymous said...

Many thanks to EA for answering my question.

And anon, I would never use someone's quotes or names without their permission.

In this case author #2 has offered to intoduce me to her publisher at an upcoming conference so I plan to be ready with my pitch then.

BTW EA - great blog. Have learned lots here from you and others.


Anonymous said...

I've wondered the same thing about getting a paid critique from a well-known author. Would this be something to mention in a query letter, like, "I've made the revisions suggested by Ms. Fabulous Author after her critique...". And then include one of the positive comments from her too, as long as that's ok with Ms. Fabulous Author?

Anonymous said...

As a librarian, I worry about a writer who says that his/her book is suitable for Junior Readers.


This sounds like someone who has never been in the children's department of a bookstore or library. Has not recently read children's books.

You need to talk to writers of children's books and to children's librarians to discover the correct terminology. Children's Book Editors might see that as a red flag.

For lots of help and support, Join SCBWI --

Anonymous said...

Anonymous -

This was actually my query and my question to EZ.

The full query does include info about the target age group (8-10s), and where applicable the relevant publisher's line, along with info. about my writing experience and 30 years working in public libraries, many of them in children's services.

Here I was just enquiring about the advisability of including recommendations from first readers who are published authors.

I'd not be inclined to pay anyone for a critique, or mention revisions made at the suggestion of other writers, teachers, librarians, or a nine-year old reader. said...

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