If you’ve submitted a novel or story and wondered why you only ever got a form rejection, this might be the workshop for you. I’ve been evaluating submissions for Baen Books for nearly nine years now, so I might be able to give you some idea why your submission didn’t attract the right attention. I’ll do my best to, anyway.
(“Dear Sir or Madam, would you read my book?” Image: “Paperback Writer,” by poppy, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)
I’m offering this new workshop at conventions this year, starting at MystiCon in Roanoke, Virginia. This workshop is designed primarily for folks who have written (but not sold, obviously) their first novel; however, it’s open to anyone and I think writers at different levels may derive value from it.
I call it the “Face-to-Face Slushpile.” (If you’re new to the industry jargon, the “slushpile” is the collection of unsolicited manuscripts every publisher receives.) Here’s the description we’re using at MystiCon:
Have you been collecting rejection slips on a science fiction or fantasy novel, but haven’t been able to figure out why? Do you have thick enough skin to take direct, honest, face-to-face critique? Bring your cover letter, the first 5 pages of your story, and your 1- or 2-page synopsis and get real-time feedback from the “Slushmaster General.” First-come, first-served, and volunteers only! If time permits, we may discuss short fiction; however, novels will have first priority. Learn what happens to manuscripts when you send them to a publisher, and how to make yours stand out … in the right way.
Some things to note:
- It’s free.
- Your submission will not be anonymous. (Unless you engage someone to pretend to have written it, which would be perfectly okay.)
- Your submission will be shared with the audience, if there is one, because I will read it out loud.
- As noted, I will give you direct and honest feedback. I won’t be mean about it, though. The goal is to help you build a better submission, which may involve helping you tell a better story.
- We will fit in as many critiques as we can in the allotted time. If we run out of submissions before we run out of time, we’ll segue to Q&A about writing and publishing.
If the current schedule holds, I’ll debut the workshop on the first day of MystiCon (the 26th of February). I’ve pitched the idea to some of the other conventions I’m attending this year, and as those plans develop I’ll post the details.
So, if you or someone you know is a struggling novelist, maybe this workshop can help! That’s the idea, anyway.
What would you like out of a workshop like this?
Send me an e-mail or post a comment to let me know what you think and what would make a workshop like this more valuable to you — or if you want me to come to your convention to present it. And if you know someone who might like to attend, send them the link to this post or send me their contact info.
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