Most of the large traditional publishing houses have a limited number of slots available for new writers. More writers are lining up, hoping to get picked for one of those slots. As a result, the competition grows more intense and new writers have to search for ways to be better than others. This pushes the standards and expectations of new writers continually higher.
The bar gets raised higher and higher and higher, until it looks like we won't ever be able to make it over! Sometimes I wonder if a new writer has to be nearly perfect. Here are a few of the high standards I've noticed:
- Perfect query letter: Thousands of articles and books are available to teach us how to write a winning letter. All it takes is a misspelled word, forgotten period, too much information or too little--and our query is easily deleted.
- Perfect first page: How often are we told that an agent/editor won't read past the first page (or first paragraph) if the story doesn't hold their attention? It doesn't matter how good the rest of the book is, if we don't grab them from the start, we've lost them.
- Perfect writing craft: No adverbs, no passive verbs, tight writing, words we're not suppose to use. . .new writers have to stick to the rules, even if the majority of best sellers don't.
- Perfect ideas: We're expected to find that elusive, never-been-told story or idea. And then once we find it, we're expected to present it in a fresh, one-of-a-kind voice.
Have you noticed the standard bar for new writers getting higher? What are some of the expectations that frustrate you? I give you permission to rant today!Tomorrow we'll talk about advantages that might help us jump over that bar.