Sunday, February 26, 2012

Literary Agents 101

This week’s blog is about enlightenment.  I’m going to take those of you who never plan on delving into the realm of publishing a book along for a ride, the first step of getting published.  Ok maybe that’s not the true first step, which of course is a polished manuscript, but the one that comes right after that.
Querying a Literary Agent.
For those of you who may not know, a literary agent is someone who represents an unpublished manuscript, the person responsible for selling it to a publisher.  They are a number of things: an editor, a mentor, a friend, a salesman, a negotiator…. They are the people who dig through slush piles of manuscripts all in the hopes of finding the next big book that they can sell.  They have contacts and experience that are invaluable to an unpublished author.
But actually getting one is an entirely different matter.  A few blogs ago I posted the horrific statistic- around a .05% sucess rate…but that’s where I’m at the moment, in an uphill battle trying to beat the massive odds weighing down against me.
These past few weeks I feel like I’ve been placed in a crash course on all things publishing.  Right now, I’m learning all sorts of new terms and jumping through all sorts of ropes trying to find the perfect literary agent for me.  I’ve spent countless hours on my computer researching those who I feel will have an interest in the type of book I’ve written and who also have the experience to help guide a “newbie” through the entire ordeal.
After all of my research I feel like some of these people are already my friends, but in reality they have no idea of who I am. And every single one of them is different and they all require different things from me before they will even consider my book.  I’m given a one page query letter to introduce myself and my book, hoping that something I say will spark enough of their interest to ask for a manuscript sample.
Try summarizing 100,000 words of hard work in a paragraph or two…it wasn’t easy.  I only hope now that it’s been done well enough. 
You can send out queries to as many literary agents as you wish to, but so far I’ve been extremely selective in who I’m contacting because at this point it’s not just about getting an agent for me.  I want someone who I also feel comfortable working with, someone who is willing to take the time to guide me, and someone who truly believes in my book.  It’s also difficult to query a ton of people when you’re spending hour’s just researching the people themselves!
So at this point I’m contacting a few literary agents in the hopes that in my one page query letter I can spark enough interest for them to contact me back.  The letters are out and the results may take weeks to get back in.
This approach may be naïve of me, but only time will tell.
In the mean time, I’m working on a website, re- polishing The Apollo Academy repeatedly, and thinking of the next book…

1 comment:

  1. I can attest to the part about continually editing. I've read this book on multiple occasions and it's gone from rough to smooth, broken to flowing and an idea to book. I'm still getting used to the fact that I married someone with such a previously unknown talent... now let's get you published my love!