Monday, January 21, 2008

Almost Ready

I am getting everything ready to go: synopsis, author’s bio and a quick intro to be used in the query letters. It’s all coming into place before I start contacting agents.

My list of agents stands at twenty. I took the time to find agents who are open to new writers (meaning no previous novels published) and handle the category of fiction this novel fits under. I think it’s common among newer writers to submit to all the wrong places, and I find that to be such a waste of time and money. Taking just a few minutes to read through an agency’s website can reveal quite a bit.

Writers who bombard every agency in America with their novel are no different from someone who shows up to a limo company looking for work as a pig farmer. It is up to us to sift through agents, looking especially for these two phrases: “I am looking for” and “I am not looking for.”

Twenty agents does not seem like very many, and perhaps I’m more stringent in who I select than other writers. But just as an agent examines the materials sent to him or her before deciding to represent an author, so must we examine each agent to decide if that agent should represent us. The difference is that we should be doing this BEFORE we make contact.

I will start sending out queries through emails and the postal service shortly. It will take me some time to get through my list because for me, each query is personal. I take the time to share why I selected the agent and to make sure that he or she gets the exact material requested (in the specified format) for a first contact. To me, this is no different than sending a resume to a company I’m seeking employment with, and I do this with as much professionalism as I can muster.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Publishing a Novel

I’ve decided to be very open with my latest project. I have a finished novel. I’ve tweaked it here and there. In fact, on the journal page of my website, you can read about all the iterations it went through and look at my weekly updates through last year. Now it’s go time.

My mission is to get the novel into publication without resorting to self-publishing. If I reach a point where I feel like I’ve exhausted all resources, the novel will be shelved, like so many short stories of mine in the past (and two cruddy novels that I shall not describe in this post).

My first stop on this grand tour is to find an agent. I admit that a couple of years ago, I proposed this novel to a few agents, and I only managed to get beyond the “front door” with one agent whom I met in person at World Fantasy. I’m not going to resend the proposal to any of those people, just as I wouldn’t resubmit a short story that’s been refined unless a magazine specifically asked me to. After doing some research, there are quite a few agents I want to approach with this newest proposal. I won’t get into the specifics of who I’ll be contacting, but I will probably give updates on the percentage I’ve heard back from, feedback, etc.

If I don’t find an agent willing to represent the work, I will start hitting publishers directly. I’m much more limited in who I can query directly without an agent, which is why this is my second step. No publisher has been queried for this novel in the past, so the field is wide open. As with agents, I won’t report specifics on who I’m querying, but I will give updates on the types of responses, speed of responses, etc.

I’ve gone down this road before with a cruddy novel, and even that was somewhat exciting (especially the returned manuscript that had a shoeprint on it). Now I’m going down the road with a much better novel (and more experience). Bring on the fun!