THERE'S A BOOK IN YOU!
WEEK FOUR: GETTING IT OUT THERE
You’ve probably been working on your book anywhere from close to a year (on the very fast side) to much longer. You’ve tweaked, polished, hopefully re-written many times and feel that it’s ready to go. So now you need to find an agent who can get it out there for you and get you a deal.
One quick anecdote, I was interviewed on a TV show a few days ago called BookTV and the host of the show told me a story about one of the authors that she’d recently spoken to. This author has a best-selling book, was on Oprah etc. etc. She told me that the author told her that every week for 20 twenty years (yes that’s 20 years!) she submitted her writing to an agent or a publisher. First of all, I’m amazed that she found that many to submit to, but the point is that she dealt with rejection of her work over an incredibly long time. And ultimately her persistence paid off with success and the fairy tale ending.
I recount that story because it really encapsulates this week’s blog, which is getting your work out there and dealing with the constant rejection once you start that process.. If you are going to go the traditional route (we’ll talk about alternatives next week), you’ll want to try and get an agent , although some of the smaller publishers will accept manuscripts without agents. Either way the first thing that you have to do is to research where the best home is for your book.
There’s a very helpful reference guide found in most public libraries called “A Guide to Literary Agents” that is a comprehensive guide to most if not all of the agents in the country. It lists not only their name and contact information, but also equally importantly the type of literature that they’ll review, what you need to send etc. There are also other lists of guides to agents that can be purchased, many of them focusing on specific genres of books like romance and mysteries. They key is to select agents who specialize in your genre of work.
Once you’ve narrowed down a list of agents (I’d say start with at least ten names) who say that they review the type of work that you have, you have to create the Query Letter. This is the all important short (generally not more than a page or two) that succinctly sets forth what your book is about and why the agent should consider reviewing it. It’s basically a sales document that will hopefully encourage the agent to ask you to go to the next step which is sending your manuscript to them for review.
There are many excellent books about writing Query Letters that can be purchased, I’d recommend getting one because there is a very specific format that you’ll need to follow. After you send out your query letter, agents who are interested will ask you to send out either the entire manuscript or sometimes just the first 100 pages. Be sure that when you send your work out it’s perfect, and by that I mean no typos, grammatical errors, proper format etc. At this point you may want to pay a copy editor, that is someone who reviews a manuscript for these types of issues and makes sure that it is correct. If that’s not in your budget, I’d suggest having a friend (or several) review it just with those types of grammatical/spelling errors in mind. Also the format for a manuscript is double spaced, usually Times New Roman, 12 point., with paragraphs indented. Each chapter should also start on a separate page. Because most manuscripts are too big to bind traditionally, most people will send the loose pages in a manuscript box.
I made the mistake of sending out my first manuscript in single space, Ariel font, with double spaces between the paragraphs, rather than indenting. It might seem like a harmless error but it’s critical and it wasn’t until one very kind agent told me (in her rejection letter) that I even knew that there was a generally accepted format. One important note, if an agent says that they’ll only review your book for a fee, you may not want to send out your work to them. The reputable agents won’t charge you a fee for reviewing your manuscript. A literary editor or copy editor charges, but not an agent.
Now that you’ve sent out your manuscript to an agent or hopefully agents, it’s time to wait. Because good agents are inundated with material, you’ll usually not hear anything for at least 3 months, many times much longer. One thing you will want to do is to enclose a stamped self –addressed envelope that the agent can mail back to you, to acknowledge receipt of your manuscript. If this seems overly technical and not that interesting, you’re right! But based on my own saga sending out my manuscript, it’s better to know these things in advance! We’ll talk more about agents and other options for publishing next week.
If you’d like to learn more about my novel A DEAD MAN SPEAKS check out my website at www.adeadmanspeaks.com or you can email me at email@example.com.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
THERE'S A BOOK IN YOU!