Sunday 18 January 2009

“To laugh were want of goodness and of grace, And to be grave exceeds all power of face.” (Alexander Pope)

I love Sunday evenings. It’s the time when I can really unwind and start pumping myself up for another week of hard work – yeah, right.

It is also the time when Elisabetta and I go through the ever-growing pile of submissions and proposals. Some of them are absolutely barmy and can be discarded after a few seconds, others take three or four pages before they are given the axe, while a few require a little bit more attention.

But the quality of submissions, whether unsolicited or agented, is by and large very low. What is shocking is the total carelessness in presenting the work. These submissions are often scattered with typos and grammar mistakes, giving the impression that neither the author nor the agent could be bothered reading the document through or even spell-checking it before sending it off. This I don’t really understand. If you spend one or two years writing a book, you want to make sure – whether you are a well-known author or an unpublished writer – that it is as polished and accurate as possible before it’s submitted to a critical reader.

The two submissions I’ll be reading this evening are from very reputable agents. The first one has been pitched to me as a “modern picaresque novel told by a clairvoyant hermaphrodite from beyond the grave”. On the first page of the second one I can see some “petrified cows leaping away from the flames”.

I think there is a strong possibility that I am going to have an early night tonight.


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