Harping: Not the Celestial Kind

At the risk of sounding like your mother, or worse a screeching harpy, I cannot impress upon you the importance of knowing your genre and selecting an appropriate faculty member for your critique.

There are several reasons this is VERY IMPORTANT.

1. Someone who does not know your genre cannot give you the best feedback. Translation: You are wasting your money if you select a faculty member who doesn’t want to read, represent or publish your type of manuscript.

2. If you select an inappropriate faculty member, you run the risk of really ticking them off. Why does it matter? Say you’re writing romance now and you select someone who represents mostly non-fiction. In two or three years, you may write a book that’s non-fiction. And guess what? You’ve burned that bridge. Translation: People in this business have long memories. If you tick someone off by forcing them to read something they don’t want to read, they won’t look favorably on subsequent submissions.

3. The myth that if the writing is good enough ANYONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND would kill for the chance to represent or publish it is exactly that: A MYTH. Even if you’re the next Hemingway or Faulkner, you shouldn’t bank on the strength of your writing to persuade someone to ADORE your genre. Translation: Your book has to be well-written and well-represented. You want the agent you sign with to be ga-ga over your work. Forcing them to like it is not an option.

4. Publishing is a business. You want someone who’s a good fit for your work to read, represent or publish it. Translation: You will be more successful if you don’t try to cut corners, get an agent, editor and publisher who’s right for your work. You will make more money and get more exposure this way.

In summary, do your homework. Make sure the person(s) you select for critique are appropriate and willing to read your genre.

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