I recently attended an on-line Writer’s Digest bootcamp for finding and keeping a literary agent put on by the ladies of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. It was an excellent learning opportunity concerning inquiry letters and the first few pages of any book. After incorporating the advice, we were allowed to submit our inquiry letter and first 1300 pages. After a couple of weeks, we received some feedback. Roz Foster provided not just simple feedback, but well thought out collection of strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities (SWOT). She didn’t frame it that way, but I did as it easily fit into that business approach of building a plan to meet my objectives. I share some of the high-level thoughts as other aspiring authors may find it useful. For those who have read the manuscript or just posts on this blog, if you strongly agree or disagree, feel free to comment and let me know.
Below is Roz’s well thought-out feedback paraphrased into the SWOT approach to improvement.
Strengths: Intriguing idea of treating one’s self as a business that engages people and is unique. The introduction had good use of bullet points. The narrative intends to engage the reader in self-awareness and engages in a kind of dialect with our selves.
Weaknesses: What is the reader to look forward to? Although the bullets are strong start they were inconsistent mixing axioms with lessons to learn. The reader should know immediately what the benefit is to them. The chapter premises are good but why should readers accept them. Each chapter should have a hook having educational, inspirational and entertaining elements.
Opportunities: There’s a need on the market for something like this. Giving readers motivation and more persuasion that this approach is going to work like nothing else will make the book a better seller. Reorganizing the book around a dazzling concept makes it so folks can easily wrap their heads around the concept. A dazzling concept piques curiosity. To hook the readers more efficiently, an anecdote or stories that epitomize the concept may be used.
Threats: Readers may receive the impression that the book and idea is nothing more than a combination of business strategy and pop-psychology or self help. There is no clear notion of an exact philosophy the book will communicate evident in the first five pages.
I found the feedback helpful. After working through some of the natural reactions and a drink or two, I found myself with new ideas to help make my manuscript better. The thought to leave this post with is, no matter how difficult it is to accept the feedback we receive, it is nonetheless an opportunity to make ourselves, our product, or our business better than before.
Thank you Roz Foster for all well-thought out feedback. May I honor it by incorporating as much as I’m able to.
Now, I’m off to have fun with a major re-write.