Tuesday, March 6, 2012

That's One Ugly Baby

by Mindy McGinnis

Sometimes you just have to admit it.

Chances are that your first baby is a bit of a problem child. It probably isn't the one that landed an agent. In fact it might be the one that you decide to keep under the bed and only feed during the dark hours so that no one is exposed to its ugliness.

And while doing that to a human being is, you know... illegal, it's probably the best route to take with any book babies that aren't quite ready to see the harsh light of day.

A lot of newly agented writers make the mistake of treating their agent like another crit partner, one with awesome credentials and connections. But that's not what an agent is for. Just like a grandparent who's been leaned on one too many times for free baby-sitting, your agent can get sick of the sight of that book baby.

It's called manuscript fatigue, and it happens to the best of us.

As writers we know to walk away from our work and return with fresh eyes for editing passes. But sometimes we can't resist typing THE END and immediately heading back to Chapter One with a red pen in hand. Pretty soon you get muddled. Pretty soon you lose continuity. Pretty soon the forest and the trees have become one and there are nooses hanging from every branch.

You know the feeling, and you know how it makes you feel about your own work. You don't want your agent to feel that way about your book baby, do you? Uh . . . no. You don't.

So give that baby some serious plastic surgery before handing it off to your agent and saying, "Look what I made!" Use your betas, use your crit partners. Use the same steps that got you here in the first place. Deliver a healthy, well-adjusted adult to your agent, not a helpless thing that needs constant attention and will more than likely crap all over both of you.


  1. What an interesting observation! I never thought of it that way. You definitely want your agent to still have that just fell in love feeling when he goes out to sell it. Thanks for the insight, Mindy!

  2. If I drank coffee, I would have spit it all over myself when I read that last line this morning, Mindy. :) Thanks for the reminder and the laugh! :)

  3. Marcille - I definitely think it's a problem that newly agented writers don't take into consideration. Keep that agent thinking you're a genius!

    Julie - No problem ;)

  4. I do drink coffee. And I'm now wiping it off my computer screen thanks to that last line!