My first novel was about a talking dog. GASP. Sounds awful, doesn’t it? The classic newbie mistake?
When I showed up to my first conference, I was petrified. I had brought the first five pages with me for open mike and peer critique. I had already heard a zillion times I should avoid writing anything with talking animals in it. But I, like many other newbies, didn’t get what the big deal was.
I read those first pages at open-mike–the scariest thing I’ve ever done in this biz (next to writing a synopsis). When I finished, I was certain someone would highlight the travesty I had committed. But instead all I got were a few words of constructive criticism. And one lady said, “My girls would love this book!”
When we returned from the conference, my newfound critique buddy Tammi Sauer read my book. The whole thing. Dear child. She said, “you need to send it out.” [Read my story, how I found my critique partners->how I found my critique partners] if you want to know how I met this crazy lady or [read post, get a second opinion->get a second opinion – critique partners, book doctors, editors and more] if you want to know why I believe learning from someone else is very important.
I listened to Tammi and I mailed that puppy out (pardon the pun). Of the five major houses that received sample chapters, three sent back personal rejections and two of them explicitly invited me to send more work. My talking dog didn’t sell, but at least he opened doors. Arrooooo!