I got a message from a (then) stranger the other day on Facebook. I wanted to share it with all of you right away but I had to get permission first. I now have it so I am going to share with you a brief story about Adam N. Leonard.
Adam is an aspiring novelist. He is frustrated like I was a few short months ago and like some of you may still be today. Let me share with you the conversation we had via PMs on Facebook. Adam first contacted me on 7/20/10. This is what he said:
My name is Adam Leonard; I'm also an aspiring novelist. I'm about ready to throw in the towel, though. I've had several full and partial mss considered, but ultimately all were politely rejected. I really need someone to tell me straight out whether my writing sucks or has any chance of future publication. I wish agents were more brutally honest- that would save a lot of people wasting a LOT of time. Anyway, I was wondering if you could suggest a critique group or service or something to that effect?
Dude. Wow. I feel you man. I can understand that frustration, I've been there. My opinion is that ANYONE can write a decent book. Shit gets published all the time. I would like to discuss this further with you, but I'm too busy tonight. Tomorrow is my daughter's birthday party. Can I hit you back on Thursday? In the meantime you might want to let me how you found me and why you thought I was the one to ask this question of.
I'm not implying that I'm not. I think I can help, but I do believe things happen for a reason.
Yeah, I meant to say "let me know how you found me ..." but I'm a little tipsy.
I was two glasses of Merlot deep. He wrote back later that night:
I have no idea to tell you the truth - I probably saw you on a writer's blog or twitter list or something like that. I just recall you posting stuff about critiquing your work, changing POV, and you seem to know a lot of people in the same boat, at least on your blog.
I'm just trying to get feed back on my work from someone I'm not related to! Know what I mean?! And that doesn't cost me a thousand bucks.
So I told him what I thought:
Well I have several suggestions I could make. First of all you need to have a blog. I was ready to give up 4 months ago when I kept getting nothing but rejections from agents. Now I correspond with published authors almost every day. If you start blogging I can get a lot of people to follow you and connect with you about writing.
Second I can offer to critique your first 15 pages if you will let me blog about our correspondence ... unfortunately I don't have time to read your whole novel, but there are people who do.
You should check the forums on Nathan Bransford's blog to find critique partners who will exchange their entire novel with you.
It could also be your query, but you said you had some partial requests so maybe not.
Would you be open to me blogging about our conversation? I would really like to help out and if I ask some of my readers I bet they will be willing to give you at least a partial critique.
Why the hell not. Give me an email address and I'll send you the first 15 pages. Thanks.
And here we are. Do any of you have any advice for Adam that I haven't thought of yet? Is anyone besides me willing to offer to critique his first 15 pages? He hasn't started a blog yet, but I strongly encourage him to. I know you awesome writers will give this guy a hand as long as he agrees not to give up, right?