View outside my window here in Madison. Oh, it is spring…right?
It’s my last day at the UW-Madison Writers’ Conference. It’s been a wonderful experience. One particular event I’d like to mention was the Advanced Manuscript Critique. I sent in the first ten pages of my just completed novel. A chosen author/editor critiqued the ten pages. In my case it was Lucy Sanna, author of Cherry Harvest, (I highly recommend it.) and at an appointed time, I sat with Lucy, and we went over the critique of the ten pages. Let me say right off the bat: Lucy Sanna is tough~! I consider myself extremely fortunate. She gave me great feedback, which will make my novel better and stronger. At one point during our talk, she asked, “What’s the word-count of your novel?” I responded firmly and proudly, “One hundred twenty-three thousand.” “That’s too long.” was the immediate response.
She did come back later and tell me that 123,000 is acceptable for a debut novel…a million words is acceptable for a debut novel if it’s “GREAT.” But the magic number it seems for the reading public is 90,000 words. ( the range being 80,000 –110,000) I had no idea. So, it’s stuff like that, along with the great sessions on the craft and business of writing that make a conference worth a writer’s time. Regarding my word count, the good news for me is, that it’s a lot easier to delete than it is to add.
The great debate through out this conference has been between Traditional and Self-publishing avenues. As we all know the self-publishing world has “taken off” in the past five or so years and many authors have taken that route and quite wisely so. I’m still not sure whether or no I want to go the rather torturous agent route: Your query letter has to be perfect. They may never get back to you…probably won’t. If they reject you, consider yourself rejected forever. If there is one error, you’re doomed. You need to know exactly what it is they want…maybe even their favorite wine. It gets strange. And I haven’t even gotten to the part about their 15% cut of whatever you earn…if you earn anything. In fact getting an agent doesn’t necessarily mean publication…and even if you do get published, you still have to be your own publicist. So, the argument goes…why not simply skip all the anxiety and go self-publishing and take control of your own game. It’s a fascinating world out there.
So, it’s the final morning of the conference. I’m staying one more night to get past the bad weather. When I left Alabama it was big time Spring–roses budding out, day lilies starting to bloom, lovely white dogwoods in full bloom and seventy-six degrees. Here it’s cold, very windy, and snowing. Wha?
Nevertheless, it’s been a great time. And thanks to all of you for the really nice words.