Trick Question: Which Instructions Do I Follow?

TrickInstructionsYou’re writing the next great novel, a true classic. You know it’s a game changer for the world, you just need an audience. How are you going to get it out there? You could self-publish, but the odds of finding the audience you want are slim. You don’t want your book lost in the wilds of the Amazon. So you need to find an agent to help you sell your book to a publishing house. Here’s the big thing about that process that everyone seems to think they can ignore, the instructions for submitting.

The submission process is brutal. I don’t mean brutal like shutting your fingers in a car door brutal, more like brutal like having your entire body crushed by 4 oz. ball peen hammers by gnomes starting at your toes and working their way to the top of your head until you are a flatten lumpy pile of human salsa brutal. Writing a query that reflects the story and tone of your novel is an incredibly difficult task, but you do it. After tormenting yourself over each and every all-important word, your query is ready. What do you do? You start sending it to agents.

Okay, stop here. You are ready to send out queries and you should. Keep in mind, you are not the exception that proves the rule. You are not going to catch a fish with a green plastic soldier, you need to hook an agent by playing by their rules. Agents are kind enough to explain the process by which they accept submissions, but we (writers) like to ignore that and make up our own rules about how things need to happen. Look if you want to not follow the instruction, please don’t. This is an incredibly competitive market and the less competition out there that wants to eliminate themselves by not following instructions I’m happy to have every other writer do just that. I will follow the directions given me.

It doesn’t stop at the querying either. It’s at conferences, at manuscript submissions, at editing submissions. It doesn’t really stop. Why is it something that we are all so passionate about we falter at following step-by-step instructions making all the suffering moot? The rules always apply. Unlike in most of real life, the rules of finding an agent are clearly defined and outlined by each agent. So take advantage of that gift. Or don’t, I’m fine with you not following instructions.

So Trick Question: Which instructions do I follow? All of them.

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