Before I sent out my manuscript, I scoured the internet and went to numerous writing seminars and conventions, sucking up information like a Hoover. I learned how to send a query, what an agent wants and doesn’t want, what sells, what stinks, and how to pack a punch in the first paragraph. Armed with all that valuable information, I obsessed, second-guessed, and over-analyzed to the point of paralysis, while my manuscript skulked in the dark recesses of my computer.
A very famous author/agent told me never, ever to start a book with My name is so and so and this is what I do. Why? Because it’s BOR-ING, and an agent will throw my work directly into the trash bin. Horror of horrors! I ran home and immediately changed the beginning of my novel. I was cranky for a few days until I decided that all the cracks in my 2600 square foot home had to be caulked.
Weeks later, my partner pulled my twisted body out from under the bathroom sink and capped the caulk gun. “Stop it!” she screamed, as she dragged me back into my office. “Change that shit back the way it was and send the damn thing out already!”
She was right. My character, Eli Fineman, would never begin his story without introducing himself. It would show a lack of refinement.
I changed it back, and started sending out sample chapters, envisioning an industry full of agents and/or publishers pressing the delete button and generating a rejection template in unison. Luckily, that didn’t happen. Rose’s Will was offered a contract from the second publisher I sent it to.
So, get ahead. Get all the education and information you can, but don’t compromise your art to comply with generic instructions. If your work is good, your story is well-written, and you have a fine command of the English language, send the damn thing out already!