Wednesday 6 March 2024

IWSG March 2024

Time for our monthly meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Hosted as ever by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the aim of the group is to offer a safe space where writers can share doubts and insecurities without fear of being judged. This month's co-hosts are Kristina KellyMiffie SeidemanJean Davis and Liza @ Middle Passages.

This month's optional IWSG question is: Have you "played" with AI to write those nasty synopses, or do you refuse to go that route? How do you feel about AI's impact on creative writing?

These are great questions. I feel like we covered AI quite recently - though my grip of what is "recent" is quite hazy, so it could have been anywhere up to a year ago. I'm happy to dive back in though. I'll restate the answer I will have given for that other question - I would never let AI near any piece of writing that I put my name to. No shortcuts here! No matter how dreaded the synopsis might be (and I do have quite a lot of dread), I'd fear the program would misrepresent what my work is all about and I'd have to do it all again anyway. Even if it produced a word-perfect summary, I'd probably feel there was something missing because it can't capture those emotional nuances that the human writer can - one of the hardest parts of the synopsis is producing a pocket-sized recap of your narrative while also transmitting something about the characters' emotions, and I definitely wouldn't leave that to a machine.

Talking of synopses, that ties quite nicely to my current insecurity, which has been for the last few months - you guessed it, querying. My journey is ongoing and I'm still hopeful, but I'm reaching that point where it might be due a rethink to change things up (leaving AI out of it though!). Over five months, I've sent 50 queries to agents, receiving 20 rejections, and a further 12 were closed with no response. I think only a couple of these rejections were semi-personalised. Everyone's journey is different, of course, but if you've been in the trenches, how many queries/rejections would/did you go before refreshing things? I'm still hanging in there, and in a lot of ways I feel like I've just started. Interested to hear any advice.

I'm also gearing up for #IWSGPit which is due to take place on March 27. Let me know if you're taking part, it would be great to see you there! Meanwhile, don't forget to check out other answers to this month's IWSG question here. See you next month!


Natalie Aguirre said...

I think Al is a tool and would use it as a starting point for a query.

I don't think you should give up on querying agents. If you're not getting a good response, maybe have your critique partners help you revise your query letter and pages you're submitting and see if that changes the response. Many authors I interviewed queried many projects and got hundreds of rejections before getting an agent. And you should enter my query critique contests. Many agents represent adult as well as kidlit.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Glad you are taking part in #IWSGPit. Hope you have some success there.
I've not even dabbled with AI.

Annalisa Crawford said...

I agree with you on the AI thing. I want to feel like I'm putting 100% of myself into everything I write.

Keep going with the queries. Perhaps tweak it here and there if necessary, or perhaps think about independent presses which take unsolicited queries. It's still hard and nothing's guaranteed, but it's another avenue to explore. Good luck.

Liza said...

The word nuance means everything. If we get to the point that AI can create subtlety, we are in big trouble. I haven't queried in a while, but tended to think that after 25 form rejections (or crickets), it was time to reevaluate. Not to say I didn't send more, I did, but at that point, I stopped and gave everything a hard look. In looking back now, I believe for at least one project, I had a poor query letter. Never say never. I've edited the book and re-written the letter. Someday soon I might press send. Good Luck Nick!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Try querying publishers instead for a while and see what happens.

Melissa said...

I haven't played with AI much, but I look at it differently. Even with something as basic as synopsis help, one has to guide, edit and polish what it generates. I sort of see it like critiquing. It's much easier to spot mistakes in someone else's writing.

Good luck with your query. You the man. I don't have the stamina to hold up to that.

Sherry Ellis said...

AI can give ideas, but the actual writing is best left to humans.

Kristina Kelly said...

Querying is so hard, especially right now. The last time I queried I think hit 50 and a year later before I gave up. I reworked the query several times during that. I think every 25 no. Even got other professionals in the editing and publishing field to give suggestions. Still no bites. I think querying is more about having the idea at the right time to the right agent who is looking for that really specific item but only at this one blip in time, and sometimes things aren't aligning and it's not necessarily the query letter.

Nancy Gideon said...

Spellcheck is as far out on an editorial limb as I'll go (sometimes I don't agree there, either!). Creation is a human thing, developed through imagination and individuality. A writer's voice should have a mechanical echo.

Victoria Marie Lees said...

All the luck with your querying, Nick. YOU can do this. No AI required. But yes. It is tough.

And I think you are right. The AI program could "misrepresent" your work because it cannot feel. Hang in there, sir!

H. R. Sinclair said...

I think AI is a good tool when used as a tool only. Good luck with #IWSGPit.

PS: My blog feed URL has changed.

Liz A. said...

I can see why you wouldn't want to try AI for a synopsis or anything. I wonder how many writers will change their mind a few years from now.

I do not know how long you should continue querying. Perhaps there's a point where you pull it back and query something else. With the idea that you could bring this project back out after it's had a bit of a "rest".

Leigh Caron said...

My first manuscript,I couldn't land an agent. I gave up after 50+ queries and finally self-pub'd. I don't want to go down that route again so this time I sent my query out and paid for a critique to someone well know in the literary world who gave me valuable suggestions. Also, I'll soon be sending my current synopsis out for critique to Query Tracker. It's free.
And I really would never use AI for anything that my name is attached to. Never give up.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Good luck with IWSGPIT. It is stressful but in a good way when you're doing all that querying. Wishing you the best.

Fundy Blue said...

I'm with you on AI, Nick! Don't give up on submitting! Some famous authors have gone through hundreds of rejections. Reread your manuscript and see if there is any way to refresh it, and start on something new. I hope all works out well for you!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Don't give up querying!! Maybe take another look at your query letter and the first five chapters, but don't give up.

Patricia JL said...

Querying is tough. Good luck with it.

cleemckenzie said...

AI is definitely polarizing. Some embrace it while others absolutely do not. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Denise Covey said...

You're right, nick, I remember doing an AI post only a few months age.

I suspect authors will eventually learn how helpful AI can be. It takes endless editing, but I love editing.

Denise Covey said...

Hey Nick, my first comment didn't work, so I'll keep this short

I love the possibilities of AI and I suspect most authors will eventually realize it's helpfulness.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Your memory is good. We did just do it. I was clueless then and skipped the question this month. I've never enjoyed tech and I enjoy the process of writing, so I'll probably be sticking with the old-school human brain approach to writing.

Nick Wilford said...

Natalie - I will run it by CPs. And in fact, I did win one of your agent critiques! The advice was invaluable, but there's always room to improve further. Thanks.

Alex - Thanks! Looking forward to it. And you don't need AI.

Annalisa - Thanks. I am already published with an independent press. But I'd like to see what else an agent could offer me. I'd like to have all the experiences!

Liza - Yes, I believe it might well be time for a refresh. Good job on revising your materials and good luck if you dive back in.

Diane - I'm already published by a small publisher. I enjoyed the experience, but I'm keeping my options open for future releases.

Melissa - AI might get a synopsis some of the way there, but of course it doesn't know the book. Only the author does.

Sherry - Absolutely.

Kristina - I think there's a lot about having the right idea at the right time. It's a lightning strike, impossible to predict.

Nancy - AI can't create, for sure.

Victoria - As hard as it is, the synopsis is too important to be left to AI.

H.R. - Might be a help but we can't rely on it for ideas. Thanks!

Liz - Since I started querying this book, I've written another one. I'll try that too but I like to think all of them will get a chance.

Leigh - I need to try that Query Tracker critique. Self-pub is great and I've done it too. But I really want to try all the different routes.

Susan - I'm excited for it. Always a good energy on the day even if you don't get a bite from agents.

Fundy - Thanks! I'm aware I'm in illustrious company with the rejections.

Lynda - Yep. There are always tweaks to be made.

Patricia - Thanks! All the luck is needed.

Lee - It does feel like AI is already running rampant and we're just at the threshold of what it's going to do. Where will we be in 10 years?

Denise - I definitely need to learn a lot more about it before trusting it as my assistant. Very unsure as yet.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Nick - apologies for being slow and thus late. Good luck with the IWSG Twitter pitch in ten days time and I do hope you can find a publisher ... take care. AI: I agree with you re not letting my work anywhere near 'it'. Mine is me ... and nothing else - cheers Hilary