bad writer badge #1, or proving the naysayers right

okay, so after last night’s energy and excitement, despite being declined, i was jazzed today to get to more query letters. i had a couple snail mail letters done last night, too, but it was so late (early!) that i didn’t have the energy to print them out. in doing so tonight, however, i found the most hideous of oversights.

Witness was just self-published through iUniverse. I understand the prevailing opinions regarding self-publishing and agree with many of them, particularly regarding the quality of most such works. I believe Witness is different, of course, and look forward to proving this exception.”

i thought this paragraph came out rather well, actually. i’m trying to break through the perceptions of self-publishing with the quality of the work in Witness, but i also entirely understand that agents and publishers must receive countless self-published works which only further the stigma, and can’t necessarily expect them to take my word for it. i also want to be up front with it, for two reasons: 1) i don’t see it as an inherent negative, and 2) they’ll find out easily enough anyway with a click on the link to this site which i always enclose, so a sin of omission would be worse, in my eyes.

so, for the above reasons, i think the paragraph works. except for one thing.

change the word ‘opinions’ for ‘opintions’.

yes, that little snuffing sound you just heard would be the sound of my credibility going up in a puff of smoke.

guess i won’t be hearing from the notable Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency. And rightly so.

here, then, is an example of the danger of revision in excess. i drafted and redrafted that query letter, read it aloud to my wife, asked her comments, revised again, had her read it, further discussion and revision, read it aloud again, and so on, until we were both satisfied that it was solid. of course, that was only moments before i had to run to work and she had to head out to a week-long conference, so it waited until i got home last night.

home alone, un-supervised, i printed, re-read and made some small changes, then spoke with my wife on the phone and read it to her. again, some tweaks, and reivision, and voila, an even better result. excellent! except, after i hung up, i noticed one more small phrasing change in the above paragraph. making the change, i then sent it.

without spell checking it again.

how many times have i told my students, “go ahead and use spell check, just don’t trust it” ?

so, here i am, back at the bottom of the pile.

at least i found it tonight, before sending out the snail mail ones.

what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger, right?