You’ve written a novel, what next…
A few months ago I met with a fabulous new author and we discussed, over brunch, how to get her book into the right hands of agents. Since, I have fabulous agents, Cyle Young and Tessa Emily Hall at Hartline Agency I don’t have to go through go through the query trenches again. What a weight off, but I thought I’d share, just a smidgen, of what I shared with her.
First up get on twitter and make writer friends. When you realize you aren’t alone, wonderful things happen. Plus, this is just such a cool place to meet other writers. I mean, some days it seems publishing deals even get made there.
Next, make sure your manuscript is ready for prime time. (Hey, we’ve all been there. With eager little fingers we send it to agents before it is ready. DON’T. Stop right here! Find some excellent Beta’s or CP’s and swap!)
You think you’re ready? Do the research, find out what works, find out what doesn’t, repeat often. Query letters are a beast unto themselves. So be prepared to come out of it bloodied and spent. (For me, it took about a month, and even after, it was revised again.) You know those writer friends you’ve made on twitter, this is a good point to network with them and share your query letters. Believe it or not, I’ve found that most want you to succeed. How cool is that.
Some helpful links on queries to check out:
8 Tips From Literary Agents About How to Get Published
The Single Most Important Thing Your Query Letter Must Do If You Want To Get A Literary Agent
How To Write A Query Letter In 12 Easy Steps
So you have a kick-butt query, now what do you do? This is where your business side must turn on. RESEARCH. Start searching. Thanks to the interwebz there are a gazillion ways to find the right agent. And, thanks to the interwebz, there are a gazillion ways to find the wrong agent. You are looking for agents who like/read/want what you’ve got!
Join Query Tracker, or you could manage your own spreadsheet, but, as for me, I rather enjoyed having this already done. Query Tracker gave me all the details along with a community for writers to ferret out the good and the bad. It has a wonderful portal for keeping track of who you sent your query to, along with which particular letter you sent. (Might not seem like a big deal, but believe me it was.)
Then there is Preditors & Editors, another excellent site to help with scammers. Remember, we don’t want to get burned.
Okay, you have your list, now what? Here is where patients comes in handy. Don’t send out your query in mass emails. For me, I chose only five to ten agents, ones I thought might enjoy my manuscript, then I detailed my query to fit their taste and humor. Check, check, check, before you send. Is your greetings correct? Did you follow their guidelines? At this point I’d probably have my synopsis completed as well–another beast to fight with as well.
Now wait. This is a lot like fishing, moments might go by or weeks. If you get a nibble, great, if you get a big fish, fantastic, but if the water is tranquil as glass, time to refine your query letter again. Chances are your query letter didn’t gain the notice you wanted. (See, this is why we take our time.) Be prepared for a bunch of no’s. That’s okay, just keep your eye focused on the water.
Repeat again in small batches.
Lastly, start writing a new story. Something about a new idea gives you the energy you need to say HAY, I CAN DO THIS!
Some other helpful links: