Wednesday, March 16, 2011

RECALLING A TOP AGENT'S ADVICE

Two and a half years back, I attended a master class given by Donald Maass, a top New York agent. The global recession was beginning to bite and the writers in the audience were expressing some anxiety over how it would affect publishers' acquisition practices. I'll never forget Don's words of wisdom.

Paraphrasing his intro, he said, "Competition for writers will remain as high as it has been for the last few years. However, in the past months, publishers have become far more selective. Certainly it's easier for established authors whose books sell well to get their third or fourth novel accepted, but first time authors have to be more than GOOD! Today, fiction that is acquired in New York is of a very, very high quality. Readers and publishers are demanding huge characters, intricate plots, and perfect pacing and tension. Editors are demanding highly polished manuscripts at the first submission."

I sat down with Don at the end of January and he told me that his 2008 opinion remains unchanged. However, he added that publishers are acquiring more high quality novels than they were.

Read his new book, The Breakout Novelist, available at www.writersdigestshop.com/product/the-breakout-novelist/ and soon at Amazon.
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