A distinguished panel of editors, agents, and authors gathered in Hyatt Embassy CD and explained what they really want from new writers during the panel, “Dealin’ with the Devil,” on Sunday evening for the Writer’s Track. Lucienne Diver, Claire M. Eddy, Chris A. Jackson, Jonathan Maberry, Lee Martindale, and Steve Saffel gave tips on how to be professional and warned about the pitfalls that can ruin a new writer’s future.
Eddy said what she really wants to see is a good story, something new, or at least a new take on an idea. Diver agreed, but she also loves to see an amazing voice, and she doesn’t want to see where a story is going. Surprise her. Saffel encouraged writers to create something that sings, that builds to a crescendo like a symphony. He pointed out that writers also need to know the basics. Editors don’t want to do triage. The less work they have to do, the better.
It’s also important, Diver said, to know where your novel sits in the market. The core of it must fit some genre, at least in general terms. And don’t follow a trend. Eddy said it takes a couple years to get a book to market, so what’s hot now might be stone cold when the book comes out. But a good story will still be a good story.
But how do you submit it when most publishing houses don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts? You get an agent. Diver pointed attendees to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association, where they can find a list of agents with reputable sales. Maberry suggested subscribing to Publishers Marketplace (www.publishersmarketplace.com). Also, go to the library and read Publishers Weekly to find out what agents are selling.
Warnings included being careful what you do on social media. Make sure you don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother or your five-year-old to read. Be funny and inclusive, and try not to anger people. You never know who could end up being a fan. Amazingly enough, editors and publishers don’t have horns or tails. They want you to succeed.