Looking For An Agent?

untitled.pngYou’re coming to a close on your manuscript and have started thinking about agents. If you go the traditional route, you are going to want one. Where are they? How do you find one that would be a perfect fit for your work?

You could ask a friend, but odds are they will have no idea. You could go to conferences and hope to bump into one or maybe even by time for a short critique or pitch, but your best bet is the internet. It offers a wide range of information on agents and publishing houses. Unlike authors of the past, you have the world at your fingertips.

Take out the keyboard and start typing.

Association of Authors Representatives, Inc – AARONLINE.org     This site contains over 400 literary and dramatic agents, who have pledged to adhere to the association’s high standards of professional conduct in serving their clients.

Manuscript wishlist – MANUSCRIPTWISHLIST.COM    Agents and editors provide in-depth information on what they are looking for, their profiles and bios, along with submission guidelines.

QueryTracker – QUERYTRACKER.NET    This free site gives you access to over 1,600 agents, explores agent data, and keeps track of the queries they send out.

LIT REJECTIONS – LITREJECTIONS.COM   This site provides a list of submission guidelines for more than 350 literary agencies. The website also offers articles and interview making it an excellent resource for authors looking to get published.

There are other sites out there. I recommend you do your homework. I’ve provided a few of the better ones to get you started. Association of Authors Representatives was voted the best of the best by Writer’s Digest.

If you have a literary agency or agent in mind, go to their page. They will provide submission requirements, and let you know if they are accepting queries.

Hope this helps.

-Jan R

Looking For An Agent?

Keep Them Turning The Page

HeaderCreativeExercisesThink about the books you have read.  What motivated you to continue to the end? What kept you turning the pages?

We all want our books to be purchased, but more importantly read to conclusion. We want our readers to be absorbed by the storyline unable to put the book down.

I read an interesting article in Writer’s Digest this past week by Steven James. The article covered the 5 factors that keep readers turning the page. You can probably guess a few of them and have no doubt put them to work in your novel. Did you do it intentionally, or did the factors result as a product of happentance? Either way, I hope you have at least one of the first 4 in your work.

5 factors that keep readers turning the page.

  1. Curiosity – Make your reader wonder and want to know where the story is going. Provides intellectual engagement. Used often in Mysteries, it is a great way to create intrigue.
  2. Concern – The reader worries about where the story is going. Provides emotional engagement. Often found in Suspense, it is a great way to create tension.
  3. Anticipation – The reader can’t wait to see where the story is going. It provides future enjoyment. It’s often found in romance and requires a satisfying climax.
  4. Entertainment – The reader doesn’t care where the story is going – it’s that good. It provides current pleasure. It’s often found in humor.
  5. Obligation – I have to finish this because I started it and/or it was assigned by a professor. There is usually limited to no investment for the reader. It is often found in classics/literary.

There you have it. Which factors are you using? Something to think about.

-Jan R

Keep Them Turning The Page

Make A Decent Proposal

imagesI know you may feel helpless at times. You’ve written an exciting adventure and edited it so many times you’ve lost count. You know you’ve produced a publisheable piece of work, so why isn’t it published. I’ve been there – done that.

Remember that your work being accepted by an agent often times has nothing to do with the novel itself. How many times have you had a rejection letter following the request for the full manuscript? That agent made the decision that they liked or disliked your idea before they even started reading your novel.

That’s the importance of the query letter and getting those first few pages of your novel right. Keep in mind that most agents receive over 10,000 queries a year. They don’t have the time to give to every submission they get.

Don’t make it easy for them to toss your work before they’ve given it consideration. That query has to be as polished as your manuscript. You don’t send out your first draft of a novel? That’s what it is – a rough draft. At least I hope you don’t. I have to confess I did.

One of the many rejection letters I received was nice enough to inform me that the novel wasn’t ready for publication, and proceeded to provide a long list of reasons why. The agent did like my premise 🙂 and made it through the query without tossing it. That’s probably why she took the time to respond.

There is a formula to get that query right. First and foremost, follow the submission guidelines of the agent or agency you are querying. Don’t give them more or less. If they want more information or to see the manuscript, they will request it.

There are workshops available and unlimited information on the internet on how to compile a successful query. Do your homework. When you finish that novel, you are not finished.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

 

 

Make A Decent Proposal

You Can’t Do This Alone!

1I remember my middle sister as a child. She was the kid who sat in the corner with her nose in a book, didn’t play well with others, well to be honest,  didn’t want to play at all.  Her friends were imaginary. I always thought that she was a little strange, and she probably was, but she is also one of the most talented writers I know.

You haven’t heard of her or read any of her work. Why, because she writes in a vaccuum. I have encouraged her for years to reach out and join the writing community.

She is an introvert, like most of us who seem to enjoy the keyboard much more than a group of pretentious people. I would be okay with that if she belonged to writing groups, or had people she related to that could help motivate her to move forward with her skill.

You don’t have to interact with others face to face, at least not at first. If that’s not your cup of tea, go online. Join writing groups and form relationships with other author want-to-bes. There are some great ones out there that cater to just what you’re looking for.

Critique groups:

  • Scribophile.com
  • AbsoluteWrite.com
  • CritiqueCircle.com

I am a member of Scribophile. It’s a great site to seek critiques and suggestions from fellow writers. Members on this site operate at different levels of expertise. I have gotten some great feedback, but I have also received feedback that was not up to par. I was pleasantly surprised at the community in the group and the willingness of total strangers to help me with my work.

Genre-Specific groups:

  • Romance Writers of America  rwa.org
  • Mystery Writers of America    mysterywriters.org
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America   sfwa.org

I think you’re getting the picture. I was a member of Romance Writers of America and need to renew. You can get excellent information and discounts from these sites. They will keep you informed on contests, conferences, writing groups/forums, what’s selling, agents looking for new works, and information on how to improve your craft.

You can’t do this alone. Plug in!

Something to think about.

-Jan R

 

You Can’t Do This Alone!

Stand Up To The Challenge

Cb3l1HoVAAEOgtTI’m a procrastinator. At least I am when it comes to writing. I know that sounds bad, and I know that it has held me up. I’ve been told by agents as well as published authors that the key to success is simple. Don’t give up!

We don’t start out thinking I’m going to give up. It festers and builds slowly in our psyche and often we don’t even realize it’s happening.  We begin to procrastinate. We lose interest, get tired, or become discouraged. Nothing seems to work. Allowing any of these feelings to take root, can all but terminate a work in progress.

We move on to another project thinking we need a break but never return. This may be a good idea in some instances, but a lot of times this break is used as an excuse, an escape if you will from our fear of failure.

I’m embarrassed at times to tell people how long I’ve worked on Always and Forever. Why has it taken so long? I’ve allowed myself to become discouraged. I have taken breaks – sometimes necessary, but other times to get away from a project that has become overwhelming to me.

I’m at the point where I have to decide what I’m going to do. We all have a limited amount of time. Am I going to waste mine procrastinating and running away from things I want to do but don’t because they appear to be too hard, or am I going to stand up to the challenge and face my nemesis head on?

My decision is to stand up. I hope yours will be too.

-Jan R

 

Stand Up To The Challenge

Are You Providing That Emotional Experience?

forbetterforworseimageI can’t count how many times I’ve heard the phrase, ‘show don’t tell’. We all know you’re suppose to show and not tell. Why? You want the reader to experience the scene as if they are one of the characters walking through the story beside the hero/heroine.

If you’re like me, you know what you’re suppose to do, but you don’t really understand what to do to make it happen. How do I show and not tell? It’s a lot harder than it sounds. Once you start writing that novel, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

There are 5 tools for showing:

  • Dialogue
  • Action
  • Interior dialogue
  • Interior emotion
  • Description-Sensory

If you’re doing anything that’s not one of these 5 things, you’re not showing.

Why is it so important to show versus tell? Showing provides your reader with a powerful emotional experience. If you want to be a best selling author, that’s what you have to do.

It doesn’t matter how great you do everything else in that novel, if you’re missing that emotional experience, you lose. If everything you do is bad, but you have a great emotional experience, you may still win.

It all comes down to the take away. Every great novelist will tell you, you have to give your reader that powerful emotional experience, or they wont be coming back.

Something to think about 🙂

-Jan R

Are You Providing That Emotional Experience?

Queries – You May Be An Amateur – But Don’t Make It Obvious.

imagesI have to admit I’m guilty of a few query don’ts. Okay, maybe a lot 🙂 I didn’t know any better. Like many of you, I just thought I did. You don’t know what you don’t know. I hope you are researching and doing your homework at every stage of the process. You don’t want to send out queries with the following blunders.

  1. Queries with typos in the first sentence.
  2. Queries that start with a nugget of wisdom: the submitter trying to be cute or philosophical. “Every step we take in life moves us in a direction.” Really!
  3. Queries that use very small type or brilliant colors in the background. Maybe if you add a fancy font it will jump off the page. Remember-the agent probably suffers from eyestrain. They live on the computer. Keep it simple-follow the rules.
  4. Queries with overcomplicated directions for replying. It’s great that you are confident you will receive a response, but the agent/publisher doesn’t want your travel plans. A simple street or email address will do.
  5. Queries longer than one page. Remember –  concise, clear, straight to the point. If you waste words and wonder all over the place during the query, the agent/publisher will think you do the same in your novel.
  6. Queries with more than one agent in the “To” line. Each query has to be individualized to the agent you are querying.
  7. Queries that start, “I know you receive hundreds of queries a week.” or “I know how busy you are so I’ll get straight to the point.” By writing this, you have already taken up a full sentence of their valuable time. Don’t state the obvious.
  8. Queries that make grandiose claims. My writing is comparative to Nicholas Sparks, or I would expect my novel to sell 150 million copies since that’s how many women live in the United States.
  9. Queries that state, “I worked very hard on this novel.” So! That doesn’t necessarily make it good.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

Queries – You May Be An Amateur – But Don’t Make It Obvious.