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Pop-Ups Catch-Up Saturday 15th February

AgentPete

Capo Famiglia
Staff member
Guardian
Please join me here in the Litopia chat room for the second Pop-Ups Catch Up event this Saturday. We kick off at 5pm UK time (click here for times in other parts of the world).

The first event was very successful, and enormously helpful in both reducing our backlog and simultaneously increasing the quality of submissions on the show, something most people noticed last Sunday. This is an event only for Litopians. The YouTube link is unlisted, i.e. not open to the public.

You’ll need to be in the chat room here to make comments, and to be watching the live stream below:


 

KateESal

Full Member
@AgentPete , given that DISENGAGE is probably now the lowest rating on Pop-Ups (seeing as real no-hopers are unlikely to make the show), is it worth getting rid of BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD and instead putting something slightly more nuanced in the top area? Maybe relating to a MS's commercial prospects, for example?

Just a thought.
 

georginaK

Georgina Key
Full Member
@KateESal—not sure about commerciality as a voting category—it could disregard some excellent work. Does everything really have to be commercial above all? I vote to keep the art in writing and not succumb to the masses Why have four categories? How about we just get rid of the last one like you suggested? I think the top three are ideal
 

Angela Y

Basic
I'm a newbie to all this but I did wonder as I watched and listened for the first time last Sunday (9 Feb) whether the Drawing Board button was ever used. (It wasn't last Sunday.) And it seemed to me - even on my short experience of one Pop-Up Submissions - that Disengage implies Drawing Board for any writer who's submitted anyway. So just three ? In other words, long-windedly, I'm agreeing.
 

KateESal

Full Member
Does everything really have to be commercial above all? I vote to keep the art in writing and not succumb to the masses
Except that Pete's most important criterion for taking further interest in a submission is whether or not he can sell it to a publisher. Which is generally the most important criterion for any agent. Art is laudable, but agents and publishers have to pay their rent, so yes, most of them are going to "succumb to the masses".
I'm not saying an excellent piece of work shouldn't be recognised as such...but the most beautiful writing in the world can be a tricky sell and as such, may be passed up (with regret) by the agent.
Why have four categories? How about we just get rid of the last one like you suggested? I think the top three are ideal
This went through a fair bit of discussion previously. Basically, if you have an odd number of categories, people almost always go for the middle one, whereas an even number forces someone to make a more deliberate decision in either direction.
I did wonder as I watched and listened for the first time last Sunday (9 Feb) whether the Drawing Board button was ever used.
We've just started pre-sifting the submissions, because the backlog was becoming unacceptably long (more than 8 months and getting longer all the time). As a result, the standard of those that make it through to the main Pop-Up Submissions webcast has become noticeably stronger. Believe me, the Drawing Board button (previously called SHRED IT, but that was deemed too brutal) has been used on several occasions! The reason I suggested we ditch the bottom category from now on, is because of the changed approach, meaning submissions considered to be lower quality don't get onto the main show any more.
Disengage implies Drawing Board for any writer who's submitted anyway
Yes, indeed. Or at least some concerted re-jigging.

How about an OOH...ALMOST! category for submissions which are strong, but would be unlikely to hook a publisher, and keep YOU GOT ME! as the top spot. Then TURN THE PAGE and DISENGAGE as the bottom two? :)

After all, YOU GOT ME suggests Pete's willing to call in the full MS for consideration, does it not? We used to call the top category CALL IT IN, I seem to remember...
 

Eva Ulian

Full Member
they would probably all have won their respective shows.
I agree @Leonora. One of the reasons the submissions were better than average is because in the first sub catch-up we pruned 50 and only selected 14 to go forward to pop-up. We have to remember there's an 8 month waiting list so it's pointless doing those that are below par.

Amazing how many submissions seem to be unaware that fiction is story based on characters; in other words they had no clue what the industry is about.
it could disregard some excellent work.
I believe, Georgina, in the pruning process, if the writing was good no one said no.

Except that Pete's most important criterion for taking further interest in a submission is whether or not he can sell it to a publisher.
I believe that's a bit misleading. I've often heard @AgentPete say he would not be able to sell a book to a publisher, not because it was not saleable, but because he had no connections in the kind of genre the book was in. I have seen many pop-up winners that are not the ones Pete handles. The winners are not chosen with the criteria of being potentially part of Pete's sales repertoire and will ask the author to submit because he thinks he can sell their work, but because, he, the panel and the chat room thinks it's the best submission of that week.

Also, the advice he gives is not, I feel, directed towards moulding the book to fit into his own literary agency, but with regards to the book itself, irrespective if it's in the genre Pete handles.
 

Hannah F

Basic
My vote would be for the above.
I've heard a few guests (in a short space of time) dither between You Got Me and Turn The Page. Ooh . . . Almost! might solve the dither. Very few receive You Got Me. The vast majority get Turn The Page. Ooh Almost! might add a nice touch of variety as well as a bigger boost for the recipient.

I'll be there (or should I say here?) on Saturday . . . on my birthday!! :)
 

RK Capps

Full Member
I felt a bit sorry for the 'losers' on last week's show. Under the old regime they would probably all have won their respective shows.
This is true, with a big BUT. If they want to write seriously and learn, they need to appreciate how strong the competition is. How do writers see that if we don't show it? Pop-Ups isn't for someone who wants to show off their work, but someone who wants to level up. And if they thought their writing strong enough, and then lose to something stronger, that should only spur them on to improve more (and by losing to something stronger that can show you why; helping improve their own writing). And that's what we want - to help writers improve :)
 

Eva Ulian

Full Member
I quite agree with you @RK Capps but I understand Leonora to mean that the submission were equally good and the one that won did so on personal taste. We hear so much from agents that much is taken from a personal view and that another agent my feel different. Well, I think this was the case last Sunday. No one deserved to lose.

As Leonora said under the old regime things were different. This was because none of the submissions were pruned and many were simply trash or very much below standard. Having made a first selection with the catch-up session, we eliminated those that did not have a decent standard, and I think you are addressing your remarks to the submissions eliminated. With these catch-up sessions we no longer have to choose the best of the worst, but the best of the best. All things being equal, the only real criteria we can use is our own taste.

Also, true, some things in writing can be learned but only up to a point. A book can be "perfect" no flaws found, yet it can often be a flop. I truly believe, being perfect in writing is no guarantee for success. As someone on Litopia said, writers create magic... (not necessarily the Harry Potter type), something that make people feel all kinds of feelings- and that's something, I believe, can't be learn't.
 

Steve C

Full Member
It was difficult to choose a winner. It is one of the failures of the submission system that books are often rejected on the basis of such a small sample before any of the story has unfolded but that's the world we live in.
 

Eva Ulian

Full Member
often rejected on the basis of such a small sample
Which is even more of a chance of what a book otherwise gets in a bookshop as you peruse through. For me, if I pick up a book and I am not pulled in by the end of the first paragraph, I put it down again. You don't need a lot to know if a book is good or not. I always think, if agents ask for 50 pages or more it's so as to see if it has promise and can patch it up if the first part makes them want to disengage.
 

Hannah F

Basic
I have a question @AgentPete: Priority Pop-Ups - the blurb says are guaranteed a spot on the next available show. Does that mean priority submissions are excluded from our catch-up sessions, or could some also find themselves proverbially scrunched up on the chat room floor?
 

Nmlee

Nikky Lee
Full Member
Unfortunately I'm away this weekend again (kayaking), but I enjoyed watching the last one—so fingers crossed this one will be available to watch afterwards as well :)
 
I can see why pruning is neccessary, even helpful for writers waiting eight months to appear on the show. But I also really appreciate, as someone who struggles to write the first seven hundred words myself, to see the 'honesty' of what comes across the agent's desk. The good, the mediocre, and the not so good. To see Peter's patience and respect is encouraging. If, every week, only the top ones are seen, I fear that the average writer will opt out of taking a risk on the show.
 

AgentPete

Capo Famiglia
Staff member
Guardian
I have a question @AgentPete: Priority Pop-Ups - the blurb says are guaranteed a spot on the next available show. Does that mean priority submissions are excluded from our catch-up sessions, or could some also find themselves proverbially scrunched up on the chat room floor?
No, Priority Pop-Ups go on the next available show, irrespective. They bypass the Catch-Up process completely.
If a Priority submission was unacceptable, I’d simply refund the fee… but that hasn’t happened yet!
 

AgentPete

Capo Famiglia
Staff member
Guardian
To see Peter's patience and respect is encouraging. If, every week, only the top ones are seen, I fear that the average writer will opt out of taking a risk on the show.
We’re still feeling our way, Victoria. it’s not easy to balance all the conflicting imperatives… to process submissions in a reasonable time, to produce a show that’s interesting and watchable, and of course to do justice to the writers. It’s very much a work in progress.

What we’re doing with Catch-Ups (do join us TODAY!) is pretty much what happens inside most agencies and publishing houses... there’s usually a screening process that reduces the initial pile down to a smaller number of submissions that are looked at more closely. I hope writers don’t find this too dispiriting :)
 

CageSage

Full Member
screening process
aka slush pile reader - in the days of paper subs, I was a slush-pile reader and they gave me a list of things that auto-stopped progression. What I see on Pop-ups, what I saw from the last Pop-Ups Catch-Up is much nicer than what I did. Bad formatting was an auto-stop. Wrong font. Stapled, rather than tied. And we haven't got to the reading of words yet.
This, in Pop-ups and Catch-Up is better than what I was told to consider.
 

CageSage

Full Member
aka slush pile reader - in the days of paper subs, I was a slush-pile reader and they gave me a list of things that auto-stopped progression. What I see on Pop-ups, what I saw from the last Pop-Ups Catch-Up is much nicer than what I did. Bad formatting was an auto-stop. Wrong font. Stapled, rather than tied. And we haven't got to the reading of words yet.
This, in Pop-ups and Catch-Up is better than what I was told to consider.
In response to the query re 'how many made it through with a positive note?' ...

Of the hundred I'd read in a weekend (synopsis and first 3 chapters), it usually ended up being two with a positive note and full-sub request, which would then go to the appropriate editor's desk.
How many did the editor pass upward?
About two of every hundred.
How many from that list got published? That's a question I can't answer, but I don't recall seeing any of the stories I recommended becoming a published work through that company.

Moral: don't just be good, don't just have beautiful writing, grab that reader by the most tender part of their soul and don't give them a chance to lose their place in the STORY.

Pop-ups is much more positive than the side I experienced.

And no, I didn't have one of my subs accepted (which had to go through a different first-reader) - but I'm still believing in my stories, working to make them the best they can be so the right reader will become part of that world and journey as they read those words.
 
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