Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Let's address this scientifically, shall we?

Hey, lit agents. And publishing company representatives. And slush monkeys. Whoever it is that’s being referenced by these anti-NaNoWriMo bloggers as making up “the Twitterverse” that’s grumbling about how National Novel Writing Month inevitably results in a greater number of unprofessional, rushed, poorly-edited submissions come December and January. I have one thing to say to you.

Prove it.

I have heard this stated approximately 2,653 times in the last three days, in the comments and original messages of about a dozen antinanoite posts, which themselves range from reasonable criticism of the system to elitist bitching based around a logical fallacy. They have a lot of different arguments, most of which are based on personal values (which can’t really be critiqued) or, in some unfortunate cases, misconceptions and misinformation. But this one always seems to turn up, and it bugs me, because this is the one argument they have that could, conceivably, be empirically proven or disproven.

Yet, I’ve never seen anyone even try.

So that’s what I’m asking here. It’d be simple, just contrast a month or two of slush pile from December to January with the same amount of time from a presumably NaNo-free period, say, March to April, or August to September. See if one is, indeed, larger than the other. If you’re feeling really scientific, find how many of the query letters mention NaNo by name, as in, “I wrote this novel for NaNoWriMo and now I’m sending it to you!” Then compare the data to get your result.

This, of course, would be easiest if some big literary agency somewhere saved their slush piles for a while, but I’m going to assume that’s not the case. Still, it’s not like it would take that much extra effort. Dealing with physical queries? Slap a post-it note on every one that mentions NaNo and dump them into a box instead of the shred. E-mail? Shift the slush pile into a folder and do a simple search after the month is over to find out what files have NaNo mentioned.

And that’s it. That’s all you have to do. Hell, if you don’t feel like giving up an extra hour of your time to tally up the info, send it to me. If the numbers come in and there’s a significant increase during the NaNo period, I’m totally prepared to eat crow alongside my slice of humble pie. If there’s no significant difference in the two samples, I expect my fellow bloggers – and anyone else who may be projecting their personal frustrations onto NaNo and the OLL – to do the same.

Current NaNo Stats
Page Count: 16
Word Count: 5,213
Story progress: Half-way through chapter 2
Status: About to get to the first really good scene, and looking forward to it.


  1. Thank you! As a writer, Wrimo, and mathematician, this is what frustrated me about the anti-NaNoWriMo arguments. Someone mentioned this in an interview in the NaNo blog last year, but no one has actually studied it. I want evidence.