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The Truth about Subjectivity

Listening to: Florence + the Machine – Lungs B-sides

Mood: Thoughtful

Back in July I won a critique with agent Sara Megibow through YARWA’s Day of YA silent auction. The critique involved a phone conversation (as opposed to feedback in document format) of a partial, whether a work-in-progress or completed manuscript. Since I’ve been preparing to send BLOODBIRD out into the world, I decided to send her a partial of that novel versus my current WIP YA Fantasy. My expectation of this was simply to get feedback from someone on the agent side of the biz to make my story better. That’s it. But what I got from the feedback was far more than that.

Sara read my partial and we set up a time to chat earlier this week. I was super nervous—who wouldn’t be—but I was equally excited to hear what she had to say about my ms. When we got on the phone, Sara was incredibly friendly, asking me about my journey as a writer and what authors I liked in the urban fantasy genre (since that’s my ms’s genre). We chatted a little about great authors in the space (we both think Chloe Neill is awesome!) and any publishing questions I had before we got into the details of what she thought about BLOODBIRD.

Then it came time to talk about my ms. Sara told me she read the partial twice because the first time she couldn’t find anything to critique. She said she couldn’t find anything the second time either (I might have gotten giddy when she said that). She complimented my voice, saying it was authentic and unique and fit well in the UF genre. She said the writing was strong. The story had the right amount of action, dialogue, back story, twists and turns. She thought my main character was very likable and would resonate with readers. All good things! I was thrilled to hear that from an agent I respect and it left me with that feeling that I must be doing something right as a writer.

Here’s the thing guys, she said all sorts of wonderful things about my writing and ms, but that didn’t mean it was quite her cup of tea. In general she doesn’t represent very many UF authors (she only has two at the moment) and part of that has to do with the publishing strategy she has for her authors. We talked a bit about the state of UF in publishing, and I didn’t feel disheartened at all. Quite the opposite actually. She made a lot of good points about how UF is becoming more and more an eBook play. As both a UF reader and writer, everything she said made a whole lot of sense to me.

Besides the wonderful (and quite honestly, validating) things I heard from Sara, I also appreciated getting a little more insight into that thing called subjectivity. Yes, it’s a real thing no matter how great your writing is. Agents have to truly fall in love with something to want to offer representation. Just like readers want to connect with characters and stories, agents want to as well. So do editors for that matter.

I know as writers it’s hard to hear sometimes, but it’s the nature of publishing. I’m okay with this though. It only takes one yes.

At the end of the call Sara told me she knew me and my story would find a great agent and readers would love it. And you know what? I believe her.

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