Sunday, March 22, 2015

Become an Agent Critiquing Guidelines!

Read this before you start critiquing or voting!!

 Read this for full details on this contest because I kind of suck at summing things up. Basically, the entrants will vote on other entrants' entries (woah, say that 1304983 times fast) and say Yes or No based on the question: "If I was an agent, would I request more pages?"

Non-entrants can participate in this contest too!!!

Here are the voting guidelines for the entrants (those who are in the contest) AND the audience.

For the entrants
  • Entrants will have to critique a minimum of seven other queries and can vote Yes on two out of those seven. They MUST  critique at least seven and give a however-brief explanation as to why they voted Yes or No. Read on to see what are acceptable Yes's and No's.
  • Entrants must critique the seven queries which have lower numbers than their post (each post will have a post number). So, if you have post #9, you critique #2 through #8. But, say, if you have #3, you critique numbers 2, 1, then start from the other end, 20, 19, 18, 17, and 16.
  • At the end of each critique, entrants, put down your own post number so I can tally how many critiques each entrant did.
  • If entrants finish critiquing their seven queries and so amazingly want to critique more, then they have two choices:
  1. Give a Yes or No for seven other queries. Two Yes's for the batch. If they critique ALL 20, then they'll have six Yes's to give out all together! (But you can only give out 6 Yes's if you've given out 14 No's as well.)
For the audience
  • Audience members have only three Yes votes for the whole lot. (With no need to give/explain No's.) However, if the awesome audience does decide to give/explain No's, then just follow the same rules for the entrants.
  • The only difference between the audience and the entrant voting procedures is that entrants are required to give a minimum of seven critiques, and explain Yes or No for each one. Audience can give three (or even less) Yes's to whichever queries they want without explanation (but, really, explanations would be best).
Comment on the posts with your crits. Be SURE to sign it with your own post number. If you choose to do so, you can comment under 'Anonymous'.

Pretend you are agents and are sifting through your slush pile.  Mention the reasons you voted Yes or No! And explain them enough so the writer can use the feedback to improve. 

Since there is a maximum amount of Yes's, you can say in explanation of a No: "I would have given this a Yes, but I liked query #89234234 better. Sorry!" But keep these types of No's to a minimum. This query is about feedback and helping writers make better queries. This type of critique won't help them improve.

And don't vote No just because you don't like the genre. (Hopefully) the writer will only query agents interested in their genre. So read each query pretending that you like that genre. Exceptions are for hard-to-sell genres like paranormal or dystopian. In those cases, the genre is a hugely significant factor in determining why agents say no. Be honest with the writers here and tell them if it's their genre that's holding them back. Be honest in saying if the premise of the story is not unique enough to stand out in the suffocated genre.

The premise of this whole post? Be honest. But nicely.

The only types of unacceptable No's will be:
  1. Genre-based No's. (See above paragraph for explanation and exceptions.)
  2. Cruel, spiteful No's.
  3. No's with little-to-no explanation. This will absolutely be the main problem for the contest, and it'll lead to angry or sad writers. In text, it's really hard to convey nuance in a critique. What the critiquer writes will be interpreted differently by the critiquee, and usually negatively. Writers: remember, nothing is personal here. To help stop this problem, try saying at least one good thing about each No (while staying honest, even brutally honest!) and thoroughly explaining your reasoning.
  4. There is absolutely NO tolerance for No's that stem from prejudice or for a personal dislike of a subject matter. There are no exceptions to this rule. 
  5. If you recognize an entry, you are NOT allowed to vote on it! Even if it's my entry, for heaven's sake! No voting on entries of authors you know. Simply skip those entries and critique extra entries in lieu.
The only types of unacceptable Yes's will be:
  1. Yes's obviously based on friendship ("Oh, she's my friend, so I have to give her a yes.") If you are friends with the writer and you truly love their query, then go ahead and vote Yes. This is on the honor system. We're all adults and I trust you guys.
  2. Yes's with little-to-no explanation.
Big thing: There are a couple of race-related entries in the contest. Do not hold back on the critiques. As an author of a race-based novel myself, I find it deeply frustrating when no one tells me what's wrong with my book because they're scared to offend. If you get under fire for giving good, honest, helpful critiques of these entries, I will personally and publicly support you. Yet of course, there are critiques on race-based novels that are unfair. Here's a great article to read so you know what types of critiques to avoid.

If you see that there is a entry or a few entries that aren't getting many comments (maybe the posts lower down on the blog's page that sometimes get hidden from view) please try giving them votes to make the number of critiques mostly equal throughout the 20. That's why I made the whole 'critique the 7 above you' so the votes would be fairly equal in number. I'll be Tweeting links to posts that don't get much feedback so follow me on Twitter.

Please try not to share what post is yours over Twitter. Doing so might inadvertently get you some 'Yes's' from friends that other entrants who aren't on Twitter or have fewer followers don't have the chance to receive. But feel free to Tweet about the contest! Twitter is awesome :) 

One more thing

Don't expect all Yes's. DON'T. Because I'm guaranteeing it, you won't get it. Another required post to read: my own experience with harsh critiques.

Phew. That's it!! Go go go!!!!!!!!!

The deadline to finish up all critiques is Sunday the 29th 9 p.m. EST. On Wednesday, I'll announce the winner - the one with the most Yes's - and set up an interview with the winner :)

Have fun guys! And be nice! And please, comment on this post, Tweet me, or email me (I rarely check my email though) if you see some mistake in your entry. The mistakes will probably be a missed italics. I will not fix typos that were in the original email. 

GOOD LUCK GUYS! HOPE YOU HAVE FUN!! We are #BecomeAnAgent on Twitter. Join the community! Our question for the day is: If your MC could not fail, what would they do?

1 comment:

  1. This is a great contest. I didn't enter, so I'm just a bystander. I've just finished going through all twenty entries and am about to leave my feedback. This is SO INFORMATIVE. It's difficult, of course, and sometimes it's coming down to "just not feeling it" (although I will try to be more specific). And to top it off, I've got my 5 yes's and need to sift through the Maybe's. So. Hard.

    (And hopefully I understood correctly. Bystander with feedback on all = 6 yes's.)