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Pop-Up Submissions - 9th June

georginaK

Patron
I've been thinking a lot about this. Perhaps too much. In the real world, when you query you are pitching both an idea and (in many but not all cases) a few pages of writing. I think perhaps @AgentPete you should slightly relax the word count requirement for the blurb (it's really tight right now...isn't it like fifty words? I can't remember). And then you could even pare back the submission length to 500 words. And my reason for thinking this is that right now the way we judge submissions doesn't really support the premise of 'is this book a good idea?' I think the angle of; 'does xyz story have a market? And does the writer appear to have the chops?' ----those are both interesting questions and no one else is doing it.

If we emphasized that the submissions are more of a book pitch than a place for judging an entire book based on the first two pages, maybe the responses to submissions and the judging criteria would be more coherent.

I could read you the first 700 words of bestselling novels and I think there's many who would be ripped apart on popupsubmissions. I still haven't met a book I can't disengage from in the first few pages, but give me two chapters and some characters I care about and you can't tear me away. On a personal level, my submission was basically called Harry Potter fan fiction. I risk digressing into a full on rant but I personally didn't get any benefit from the judging of my submission (unless you count the burning fire to prove you all WRONG WRONG WRONG!) And after the 3 month wait, my WIP had evolved so much, the submission really didn't even matter any more.

Pop Up Sumissions are fun. I don't even know if it matters if we are "helping" anyone with the judging. It can simply be a fun challenge. Winning can be its own prize. But I think we should stress what it is exactly that we are judging----a book or a pitch? If it's the pitch, submitters should be encouraged to spend more time on the blurb and put equal emphasis with the excerpt submitted.

And as another point of personal opinion, I've come to feel 700 words is just too long. As a viewer, I'd like to see less of the excerpt and more discussion about the concept being pitched. When my submission was being judged, I would have liked the judges to pay closer attention to the idea I had. Sometimes Pete does that (esp when it's a detective story or something he's into) but if it's spec fic, forget about it.
And there was me thinking 700 words was not enough!
 

georginaK

Patron
Personally, (speaking before my own submission goes under the spotlight...) I feel like I've already learned a lot from Pop-up Subs about sharpening up my pitch in order to catch an agent's eye and what an agent looks for when they dive into those first crucial paragraphs.

@AgentPete reckons the majority of agents have made up their minds on whether they're going to ask for more after reading no more than 700 words, hence that number.

On the Pop-up Subs I've watched, some have started well, then faded after a strong opening, which suggests the writing needs more work generally. So 700 words can be a useful indicator as to whether the writer can sustain quality prose (or verse!) through an entire manuscript. There's no doubt a great idea is a selling point, but it's not enough on its own. That's probably why "more cowbell" is such a popular option from panellists - our interest has been piqued by an intriguing blurb, but it's clear from the writing that the MS isn't yet a marketable proposition. Redrafts are often required and Pete and the panellists will usually say if they think the author's got something, but it needs further development.

The biggest clue Pete gives us on Pop-up Subs about how to snag an agent is if, on the strength of the submission, they can answer YES to the question, "can I make money out of this?"

So...is the pitch/blurb something that would propel a reader from the teaser on the back cover/website to open the first page?
Are the first couple of pages enough to keep the reader hooked, so they're willing to spend some of their hard-earned cash on the book?
From the author's bio, do I think they're someone I could work with?

So...possible categories:

1. Commercial potential: I want to read more.
2. Could be a go-er, but needs MORE COWBELL
3. Not my cuppa (but could be someone else's)
4. Back to the drawing board / Chalk it up to experience
Agree—I watch every week and have learned a lot. Hence my slight discomfort at the prospect of my 4 month old submission being critiqued rather than the new and revised version. I attempted to apply some of the recommendations given in the shows I’ve watched and like to think both the blurb and the first few pages are improved as a result.
 

KateESal

Patron
I watch every week and have learned a lot. Hence my slight discomfort at the prospect of my 4 month old submission being critiqued rather than the new and revised version. I attempted to apply some of the recommendations given in the shows I’ve watched and like to think both the blurb and the first few pages are improved as a result.
Yes, I withdrew mine shortly after the first submission and resigned myself to going to the back of the queue. That said, the gap was productive because I think the submission is now much better than it was then.

Accepting an updated version of the submission just before it's due to be featured seems like a kind way to deal with that issue, if it's practical.
 

RK Capps

Patron
@georginaK. Click the little envelope to right of your profile picture and, in the box that comes up, click "start a new conversation," then in the recipient box, type "Agent Pete".

But I wouldn't hurry, I submitted mid February and still haven't been on, and I'm not expecting to yet, so you may still want to do amendments to your MS. Let it rest a week or two and go back, I'm sure there's time, unless that two tier system is introduced, then I couldn't say.
 
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