Today is the first terrifying day of the Haunted Writing Clinic and Contest and to start us off, I’d like to introduce you to one of the most frightening people in the world…an acquisitions editor (A.K.A Soul-Sucking Master of Rejection). This particular criminal mastermind is Andrew Buckley, the Adult Acquisitions Editor for Curiosity Quills Press and one of the judges in the Haunted Writing Clinic and Contest.
Although he promises to be evil for the contest, Mr. Buckley, like most acquisitions editors, is not really evil. As you can tell by the interview, he is a fun-loving and hilarious guy who loves to give writers the “YES” they’ve been waiting for.
Read on to learn what this particular criminal mastermind is looking for in his recruits to the dark side…
What are the most common query mistakes you see? Is there anything that particularly annoys you?
Formatting! #@$%ing formatting! Drives me nuts. Can you tell? Just make sure your paragraphs are separated properly, the spelling is correct, and the punctuation is punctuated properly and I won’t send a minion to badly injure you.
How would you describe an ideal query?
My ideal query is one that makes me want to read more without ever seeing a sample. If the query is well crafted then I’m already in the mindset that the story is going to rock all kinds of awesome. Ideal queries should also come with cookies. Or beer. Or both.
How far into a submission do you usually get before you have an idea of whether or not you want to read more?
First pages are important. They’re that first impression you can’t take back. Think of it like a first kiss. If the first page drools all over you then it’s unlikely the following pages are going to be any less damp. Make sure you open with a strong first page, something that grabs the reader. I usually know from the first chapter if I want to read more.
What are some turn-offs that you might find on page one?
I’m all for being unique and creative but do it in your story. Weird fonts, font sizes, and colors do absolutely nothing for me. Less than nothing. If there’s an opposite of nothing, that’s what it does for me.
What are the characteristics of a great first page? What makes you want to read on?
A great opening line goes a long way but I like to see a great introduction on the first page too. It doesn’t even need to be the protag, just a character that’s clearly well written right out of the gate. Or alternately a unique description of a place or thing. Not ‘the box was square, and grey.’ More like ‘the box was surreal in its curvature, steel grey, with the sort of weightiness that under the right circumstances would defy the effects of gravity.’ Also, don’t write about boxes unless it’s really essential to the story.
What types of submissions are you looking for now?
I’m itching for a good medieval fantasy that doesn’t throw heavy sword and sorcery type stuff in your face. I’d also like to read some unique sci-fi stories that aren’t all about multi-limbed aliens. And as always, anything satirical.
Andrew Buckley is a UK born writer who relocated to Canada in his late teens because the thought of a country run entirely by beavers was amusing. He dwells happily in the OkanaganValley with 3 kids, 2 cats, 1 needy dog, 1 beautiful wife, and a multitude of voices that live comfortably in his head. His debut novel ‘Death, the Devil, and The Goldfish’ will be released in Fall 2012. Since mid 2012 he has happily occupied the position of Adult Acquisitions Editor at CQ Press where he enjoys reading exciting new submissions and crying over badly written queries. He also dances with the extraordinary grace of an adult manatee.