Friday, January 18, 2013

Agency Lesson: It's okay to not follow the rules

Oh yes, I'm going to say it. You're reading this thinking, "Yay! Here's some wonderful advice from an agent's intern!" Are you the writer who scours the blogs to glean every possible ounce of knowledge when it comes to agents and publishing as a whole? Great! Me too. But here's the thing. This is one subjective business and blogs, well, they are all in essence the opinions of a few. Some quite knowledgeable few, but a few nonetheless.

Have you ever thought these things?
"Of course I would never send 10 and a half pages when they specifically requested 10." Or how about: "No way should I start a YA dystopian, the trend is already gone." Or how about, "My fantasy manuscript will never see the light of day now that the market is saturated." Or, "No way can a 35,000 word YA manuscript be published."

Take a deep breath.



Nothing is written in stone. Yes, it's good to follow all the rules. Yes, you shouldn't consider yourself the exception to any rule.

But here's the thing. Writers shouldn't drive themselves crazy over little details. "Oh no, I open with a waking up scene!" Or " It's raining in my opening!"

Yes, be careful, but if things work they work. Agents will not care about the rain falling and will focus instead on the heartbreaking break-up being played out on the page or your characters waking up to a fire.

It's okay to not follow the rules all the time.

I promise.



  1. This isn't an agent-related rule breaking, but it's similar. When I got my first picture book contract, I submitted to an editor I knew wasn't taking submissions. Why? Because I'd gotten a very nice, personal rejection from her previously and she liked my writing. She invited me to revise and resubmit when they reopened in six months. Well, I had another manuscript that I really felt she'd love. So I took a chance and I sent it to her. I knew I was breaking the rules by not following submission guidelines, but it worked. I got a contract. :)

  2. This is some good advice. It doesn't help my writing when I worry over every little detail (whether the genre is worth writing, whether and agent will feel this way about it or that way). It's better to just write, do your best, and hope for the best, too.

  3. Very cool, Kelly! And that's exactly what I mean. Sometimes, ya just gotta stop worrying and go for it :)

    Jacqueline, it's so true.

    Now, if only I could get myself motivated to start writing this new MG.