Saturday, June 14, 2008

"Yes, I wrote a book." (Part 1)

This next batch of posts/entries will deal with my experiences in trying to land another agent. I highly recommend, again, the reference guide "Guide to Literary Agents" for anyone who is trying to go the traditional route of getting published.

Full of confidence, I went out and picked up a copy of the aforementioned reference guide, and got to work. Considering I had a romance novel, I concentrated on making a list of agents who specialized in the romance genre. By the time I got done, I had a list of about 20 names, broken down by people wanting query letters and people wanting more than query letters.

Note: a query letter is basically a letter that is selling you and your manuscript. This can be the second toughest thing to write after your novel, the first being a synopsis.

I will be the first to admit, my initial query letters were bad. They stunk. They were so bad that some of the early rejections I got, the agents simply used the letter I wrote, to basically say, "Go away." I did improve on them, slowly but surely. I got advice from other books and tips other writers {a special thanks to Vee}. I eventually, after a few false starts, got a basic template together for my queries.

I did this for about a month, starting in December, until I got some advice from a friend, who said I should wait until after the holiday season before starting back up. Since I was getting basically form rejections, I figured, "what the hey." and stopped. Which gave me the opportunity to start making the basic changes to my manuscript (see this post) and do other things, like writing a synopsis.

Note: a synopsis is a compressed version of your manuscript, roughly 8-10 pages in length. Rule of thumb is about twenty-five pages of manuscript to one page of synopsis. Mine was about 8 pages in total length, which covered all 16 chapters.

Because writing a summary of anything had always been a hard thing for me to do, it took about a month to write these 8 pages. By mid February, I was ready to expand my search to agents who were requesting a little more than just a plain query letter.

I was really excited about this part, mostly because it really bothered me to get rejections from people who simply based their judgment on a one page letter, as opposed to a synopsis or/and a few sample pages/chapters. There were a few agents, that after checking their website, had such restrictive rules, that they got 86'ed by me. For example, one potential agent stated that if the SASE wasn't a self-sticking #10 envelope, the submission would be completely rejected.

As I was getting ready to send out my next wave of queries with other items, I noticed that while I was printing a few chapters out, things just weren't looking right. As a matter of fact things were about to come to a screeching halt...

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