Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Getting your manuscript in bed with an agent

When I started writing, I thought agents were a thing of the past with the booming of self-publishing. Last year, however, a friend and fellow writer asked me to help her get an agent for her latest manuscript. I put her in contact with one but, unfortunately, their phone conversation led nowhere. She never told me what they discussed or why her manuscript was not considered. Do we have to do back flips in order for an agent to love our MS the way we do? According to Agent Tina Wexler there are some things you can do to help yourself get noticed. In an article I found, Ms. Wexler provides these great tips:
1.      Write a really amazing query. Take your time, try describing your work multiple ways until you find the best approach, read successful queries online and have as many people as possible read yours so that you’re certain it makes sense and is a shiny apple.
2.      Demonstrate knowledge of an agent's list. This doesn’t mean you have to read every book they’ve ever sold, but by showing them you know a bit about who they represent, you’re telling agents you’ve done your research on who to query.
3.      Do your research on who to query. Period.
4.      Write a really amazing manuscript. Take your time, put your work through multiple revisions, read published works in your genre, and consider joining a critique group or finding a writing partner whom you trust who can help make your manuscript a shiny apple.
5.      Be nice. Agents, like most everyone, want to work with people who are personable. This does not, however, mean “Fawn over the agent” or “Send a bushel of apples to the agent.”
6.      Ask questions. Be a part of the conversation. Agents want critical thinkers who take this getting-published thing seriously. There’s plenty of fun to be had, but remember, this is a business, not a hobby or a get-rich-quick scheme. Agents want hard workers, writers dedicated to their craft who view getting published as the first step of a long journey, writers whom they will want to be with on that journey.
Do you have an agent? How hard/easy was for you to get one? Any tips for my readers?

24 comments:

  1. All of these tips are excellent. I don't know that I have the experience to speak yet as I literally JUST accepted an offer from an agent (like, yesterday). But all of these pointers pretty much applied.

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  2. Firstly, I just love the title of this entry. And, no, I don't have an agent... yet!!!... but thank you for some awesome reminders for when the time comes.

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  3. I shall keep these tips in mind for the future (hopefully!!! fingers crossed!!) Thanks!! Take care
    x

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  4. Hi Steph,
    Congrats on getting an agent! That's quite a feat, just as rewarding as finishing your MS.

    Hi Raquel,
    LOL! Yeah, I wanted something lighthearted for such a serious topic ;) Don't lose hope, one day you'll get an agent. Keep your eyes on the prize!

    Hi Jennifer,
    I'll keep my fingers and toes crossed for you ;)

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  5. Hi Claudia,
    I really didn't know that the "business" of writing had so much in common with the "business" of acting. Reading your article was like getting tips on how to find acting agents.
    I'm pretty sure that all serious agents, no matter what field of action they operate in, want to have only hard workers around; opinionated artists who have knowledge, passion, personality and, even before all that, the will to always improve and challenge themselves to grow better and better in what they do.
    I very much enjoyed your post. Thank you!

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  6. Hi Jacopo,
    Hmmm, yes, I guess the same applies to actors, musicians, and writers when looking for agents. Truth is, you have to do the legwork, be diligent, and persistent. Glad to hear you liked this post ;)

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  7. Hello! (((((hugs)))))

    It’s so awesome to visit your lovely blog today on this Halloween blog hop. I think this is an awesome opportunity to meet other authors! I’m joining your blog and I hope you’ll join mine, too, so we can learn more about one another.
    My favorite monster movie is Night of the Living Dead and I’m dressing up as a mime. Mime is one of the most ancient forms of theatre, appearing around the time of the Greek tragedies. I hope to perfect the art and technique of portraying a mood, idea, or narration by gestures and bodily movements. The only problem is…that I have a big mouth! LOL. It’s so nice to meet you!

    Chrissy

    P.S. I’d love to connect with you online!
    My blog link is http://chrissypeebles.blogspot.com/
    My Facebook link is: http://www.facebook.com/#!/chrissy.peebles1
    My twitter link is: http://twitter.com/#!/ChrissyPeebles1

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  8. Hi Chrissy,
    Thank you for joining my blog. Welcome!
    I joined your blog as well. OMG! I am not too fond of mimes. I saw a horror film with mimes in it and that did it for me :(
    I don't think I'm dressing up this year since it falls on Monday and I have to work :(
    Happy Halloween!

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  9. Halloween Hop

    I want to thank Jeremy Bates for the chance to participate in this blog hop.

    My Favorite monster movie - Hellraiser
    My Costume - Dragon (well the wings of a dragon and the rest is my sexy self)
    And I am now following this Blog (yay)

    I have read quite a few of the posts on this blog and I do believe I shall
    be reading more as I have found them interesting to say the least. I hope that my participation brings this blog more visitors and that those turn into more readers for this blog's future. Thanks for being a participant and for those visiting this blog for the first time. Please comment, that is what we bloggers live for. :)

    ****Promoting my own Blog****

    Free Book Reviews is a blog that reviews indie books, interviews indie authors and generally talks about whatever amuses them in the literary world. If you are an author please feel free to submit your book for review and/or an author interview. If you are a reader feel free to check out any book listed on our blog. In any case please share this blog with as many people as you can!

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  10. Halloween Hop!
    Hi! The scariest book I've ever read was "IT". It reached deep into my subconsciousness and scared the heck out of me! For Halloween I'll be dragging out my Elmo snuggy for my couch potato costume.

    ~Lynn

    www.lynnhubbard.com

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  11. These are great tips! I'm definitely finding agents like you to personalize your query letter in whatever way possible so they know you didn't just pick them at random. Great post! I'm stopping by from the Halloween Hop, nice to meet you.

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  12. Passing through for the Halloween blog hop- fab blog!

    I'm not really a fan of anything 'scary' to be honest- total wimp!!

    TToria
    xo
    http://ttoria.blogspot.com

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  13. @FBR: thanks for dropping by. I visited your blog as well :)

    @Lynn: OMG! I watched the movie, "IT" and I was scared out of my socks. I hate clowns! I never read horror books. Horror flicks, I only watched them when I was a teenager. I'll see you on the bloghop.

    @Cortney: Nice to meet you, too! Thanks for stopping by. Happy to hear your enjoyed my post.

    @Ttoria: Thank you for dropping by. Bloghops are fun! I like Halloween parties but not films.

    HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYONE!!!!

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  14. Hello hoppers!!

    So glad to visit your blog! This year I will be a swachbuckling pirate and my favorite book is either Let the Right One In or The Witching Hour. I am visiting this blog from the Coffin Hop! I am #63 over there, and my blog is www.penelopecrowe.blogpspot.com. Hop over--you can win a NOOK! Happy Halloween! :)

    Penelope Crowe

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  15. Hi Penelope,
    Happy Halloween and blog hop!!! I'll stop by your blog in a bit.
    Winning a nook would be nice ;)

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  16. great tips!
    one more: submit anyway, even they say they're not accepting, or u have to be published
    i had a few look at my letters that way!

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  17. Agents - several near misses - all of them nice but one, who held on to my manuscript for a year before passing without explanation.

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  18. Hi Jeremy,
    Thanks for sharing your tip. Just make sure you follow their guidelines. ;)

    Hi Mike,
    Unfortunately, that's the nature of the beast ;) Not all agents give you a reason why they reject your MS. :(

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  19. Congrats on the agent!

    I'm here from the blog hop and delighted to discover yours. My favorite scary book is IT (scared the crap out of me when I was a kid), movie that horrified me most was Rob Zombie's remake of Halloween, and I did not dress up this year, because I'm lame. I hope to cure this infliction next year.

    Happy Halloween!

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  20. Hi Amberr,
    Thank you for stopping by. I usually don't read scary books or watch horror films. The blog hop was fun. See you in the blogosphere!

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  21. I'm not there yet. Another year or two of practice and I think I'll be ready.

    PS I tried leaving a comment on your blog a couple of times - after I fixed a few things on my computer, but it still didn't work (though it worked for other blogs). I hope it does this time because I miss commenting on your blog. :)

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  22. I'm still in that "do many revisions" phase, so no agents for me just yet.

    Great tips, though. I definitely will keep them in mind when the time comes.

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  23. Hi Michelle,
    Nice to have you around again ;)
    I haven't really had problems with the blog. So far none of my readers have had problems leaving comments. Your message went through just fine. Thank you for your loyal readership ;)


    Hi Misha,
    Don't worry, you'll get there. I'm sure of it! Just keep one thing in mind: Don't give up.

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  24. After reading about 'slush piles' and the hinted 'randomness' of manuscript selection, it's no wonder that J.K.Rowling had so many refusals to begin with (I'm curious as to how many of those who knocked JKR back have still held onto their jobs?). But are they now a thing of the past, or does that methodology of MS selection still persist?

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