I'm reproducing my handout from my talk in Tucson: The Book is Written, Now What? Enjoy!
Organization and Career Focus
What kinds of books do you see yourself writing day in, day out? How many books
a year can you write? (be realistic!)
What kind of publisher do you want
to target? (large press, small press, e-pub)
Who are the editors and agents buying/selling what you write?
Writer’s Market (updated annualy)
Conference websites (editor’s bios--shows what editors are looking for)
Check a publisher’s distribution and reputation, not just how much $$ you can get up front. Distribution can be more important than money (keeps you published)
Go to stores (Walmart, Target, grocery chains, bookstores) and see what publishers are on the shelves who publish what you are writing or close to what you are writing.
How to Get your Ms. Read
Target wisely (publisher-sponsored; your genre; editors/agent judges)
Hone your pitch to the agent or editor to one-two sentences. Give them room to ask you questions. Ask them questions--what are they looking for? What was the last thing they bought that got them really excited? What is the most recent (new author) book they've sold to a publisher?
• Query Letters
What is a query letter? A one-page letter that contains information about your book plus your pitch:
Paragraph one: Tell the agent why you've written him: I'm looking for
representation for my mystery series set in the outback of Australia in the
1940s. The first book is 80,000 words and is finished.
Paragraph two-three: Blurb of your book. Very short setup of main
character, main problem, villain, what makes the book unique. (or in romance,
hero and heroine, main problem, etc.)
Paragraph four: Offer to send a partial or full manuscript at the agent's
request. Thank her for her time, and sign.
Send out up to 10 query letters at a time. When one comes back, pop another in the mail.
• Submit constantly.
Agents: Why do I need one?
• Agents can be your number one biggest asset.Agent does much more than get you sold (you can get yourself sold).
Shop for agents wisely. Ask questions, read their blog, research them.
Do not use agents who charge up-front fees.
The amount of dedication you give to your writing career is what it will give back to you.
Don’t settle. Believe that you can attain the highest levels! What you shoot for, you will get, or get very close to.
When you make writing your job, it becomes your job (with pay!)
Lawrence Block, Telling Lies for Fun and Profit (Insightful articles on writing, discipline, technique, marketing).
Steven King, On Writing. Part 1 is an autobiography; part 2 offers gloves-off advice for starting and sticking to writing, the basics of good writing, how to finish the book and what to do with it.
Donald Maass, The Career Novelist: A Literary Agent Offers Strategies for Success. What everything means, and how to survive it.
Jeff Hermann, Jeff Herman’s Writer’s Guide to Editors, Publishers, and Agents (updated annually)
SWFA’s Predators and Editors website (lists agent addresses and websites, $=an agent with a track record of sales): http://pred-ed.com/pubagent.htm