Send a partial, Jane

One of the most agonizing experiences of a writer’s life is pitching to an editor or agent. In five minutes–or less–you must prove–coherently–what your book is about and how it’s  the next best thing. Most writers find it difficult to talk about something that may have obsessed them for months or years, and Austen rarely talked about her writing to anyone except close family. Here’s my tribute to Jane Austen and the chance to win a prize: a set of postcards featuring the beautiful Jane Austen stamp designs from 2013 (a collector’s item!), and I’m throwing in a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate:ASjanelarge

Editor: Hi Jane, take your time. What do you have for me?

Jane: It’s a Regency-set romance about two sisters whose family has fallen on hard times and they—

Editor: So they become courtesans to save the family? Are there dukes in it?

Jane: No. The younger sister falls in love with a rake but he has to leave her to fight a duel because–

Editor: Is that before or after they’ve had sex?

Jane: They don’t ever have sex, because he’s had sex with another girl and–

Editor: Oh, so she’s the heroine.

Jane: No, she’s the ward of Colonel Brandon, who’s in love with the youngest sister—

Editor: Oh great, readers love a damaged military hero.

Jane: He’s actually in quite good shape for his age, but—

Editor: How does the other sister play into it? It seems you have quite a few characters already.

Jane: She’s in love with a clergyman.

Editor: A clergyman! So he’s dying to get her into bed? That’s really sexy.

Jane: Not so you’d notice.

Editor: OK, send me a partial. What else do you have?

Jane: My next book is about five sisters.

Editor: A series?

Jane: No.

Editor: Then why are there five? Do you need them all?

Jane: Well, yes. Lizzie, the eldest, meets a gentleman, Darcy, at an assembly—

Editor: Would our readers know what that is? Is it a sex club?

Jane: It’s a dance. But–

Editor: Is he a duke?

Jane: No. But he has ten thousand a year.

Editor: Is that as much as a duke makes?

Jane: More or less. But the hero Darcy is too proud to dance with Lizzie and then his friend falls in love with her sister and Darcy opposes the match—

Editor: He’s jealous? Great, a m/m element. How graphic do you get?

Jane: They talk about money a lot.

Editor: OK, send me a partial. Anything else?

Jane: I have a book, Mansfield Park, which—

Editor: Is that the hero’s name?

Jane: No his name is Edmund. He’s the cousin of the heroine Fanny.

Editor: Her cousin? Sorry, we don’t publish that sort of book.

Jane: Oh dear. I have a romantic comedy that is also a gothic.

Editor: Are there dukes?

Jane: No.

Editor: Anything else?

Jane: My book Emma is about a woman who dominates her community.

Editor: BDSM?

Jane: No, Highbury.

Editor: Anything else?

Jane: My book Persuasion is about a second chance at love.

Editor: We see rather a lot of those. What’s your hook? Does your heroine or hero have agonizing emotional baggage, for instance?

Jane: She has trouble with her complexion, according to her father.

Editor: Is she a courtesan? I think the market is a little over-saturated but readers love them.

Jane: No, not really. The hero is a sailor.

Editor: Interesting. You could rewrite it as a contemporary and make him a Navy Seal.

Jane: I’ve just started a comedy about invalids.

Editor: I don’t think our readers would go for that. Unless they’re dukes who are soldiers who’ve been emotionally damaged by war. (Waving at someone across the room) Oh great, it’s lunchtime.  Thanks, Jane.

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20 Responses to Send a partial, Jane

  1. HJ says:

    I already have the postcards so I won’t deprive another fan, but I just wanted to say how excellent the pitch to the editor is! I’ve had similar experiences trying to persuade friends to read Jane… But fun as it is, it really demonstrates how one can’t judge a book by its blurb.

  2. Amy Kathryn says:

    I am so glad I am not a writer and will never have to endure the real thing or even the incredibly funny parody you just did!

    Poor Jane…

    • Amy Kathryn says:

      And to answer the actual question, Twitter and Facebook would send Jane looking for the time machine back.

  3. CrystalGB says:

    I think the lack of social rules in today’s society would drive her nuts.

  4. sandyl says:

    I think Jane Austen would have been very annoyed with Facebook and yet at the same time, write a marvelous novel about the whole experience.

  5. Ebooks maybe? Not holding a real book… I don’t care too much for them myself :)

  6. peg260 says:

    I think Jane would be annoyed.with all the traffic .While trying to get to her editor office

  7. OMG, Janet! Thank you! I needed that laugh. SO spot on. Poor Jane! I think she would have been a bit horrified by social media and then unable to look away. Anyone who studied the human condition they way she did would not be able to resist the lure of the kind of research Facebook and Twitter provides!

  8. The cards are precious. I would be glad to win them.
    Thank you for the opportunity.

  9. Virginia H says:

    I would say computers would really bug her because of learning to use them.

  10. bn100 says:

    reality shows

  11. Elena Greene says:

    Thanks, Janet. Lucky I wasn’t drinking coffee while reading this!

    I think if Jane were here now, she’d be initially bemused by social media, then she’d catch on and her wit would garner scads of likes and followers.

  12. Love the pitch! It’s actually a bit like my querying process at the moment for my regency novel. There’s no sex or dukes and there’s a clergyman hero… but a courtesan does make a special appearance! ;-)

  13. Janiec says:

    I think she would be annoyed by people who constantly chat loudly on their phones in public.

  14. Hi everyone, apologies for being trapped at work all day! I think Jane would embrace technology but I can also see her, the great walker, getting very annoyed by people wandering aimlessly while texting (I was behind one of those in the pharmacy today). I wonder what sort of driver Austen would be, and what she’d make of miles of stop and go traffic during rush hour. Because she was brought up to be so very courteous I wonder whether modern life might bring out her inner pottymouth.

  15. jane lewis says:

    isn’t elizabeth the second bennet sister?

  16. Robin Greene says:

    Oh, that’s both funny and terrible at the same time.

  17. Loved it, Janet!! So perfect –hugely funny and also too true….poor Jane. Thanks for the lovely laughs!

  18. Maureen says:

    I think she would be annoyed by how rude people can behave when out in public.

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