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September 4, 2011

Getting Published: Rejections

Filed under: Getting Published — Tags: , — ax20 @ 11:31 am

Is your book getting rejections? Don’t get discouraged. Some bestsellers have gotten numerous rejections before finding the right home:

Fourteen Best Selling Books Repeatedly Rejected By Publishers


August 15, 2011

Getting Published: The First Five Pages

Filed under: Getting Published — Tags: , , — ax20 @ 1:15 am

Many agencies ask for the first five pages of a submission. From those first five pages they determine if they have any interest in reading the rest of the manuscript. Though people wish an agent would look at more, there is a reason that you need to make those first five pages count:

letters from the query wars

August 10, 2011

Getting Published: Submission Dos and Don’ts

Filed under: Getting Published — Tags: , , , — ax20 @ 9:46 am

Querying agents (and publishers) are hard work and many first time writers (and even the more experienced ones) feel at a loss when trying to do it. Here’s some quick tips for how to do it.

Some Dos:

  • Do keep your query to 1-1.5 pages at most
  • Do include a synopsis
  • Do include your manuscript length by word count (and make sure it is appropriate for the book you are writing)
  • Do let your work stand on its own (you telling someone else that you are fantastic will not convince them to take on your book, only the strength of your writing can do that)
  • Do address a specific person whenever possible
  • Do include a brief summary of the work and your writing experience
  • Do proofread everything you send before submitting
  • Do make sure the formatting for your synopsis and sample pages is correct
  • Do mention your market and similar titles (your book can be a cross between one book and another, but there is no way there is nothing remotely similar to it)
  • Do say how your book differs or will stand out from its genre
  • Do make sure to submit all requested materials
  • Do make sure they work with the genre you have written before sending it
  • Do make sure your manuscript is properly formatted before sending it
  • Do go through the agent/publisher’s website before submitting to make sure you haven’t missed anything and have a good sense of what they are looking for

Some Don’ts:

  • Don’t make synopsis longer than 1-1.5 pages (double-spaced!)
  • Don’t insult other agencies or publishing houses
  • Don’t sound arrogant, cocky, or hostile
  • Don’t sound desperate or beg
  • Don’t provide a sample from the middle of the book (if you’re book cannot catch a reader’s attention in the beginning, they don’t want it)
  • Don’t say there are no books out their like yours (let’s be honest, there probably are or they probably don’t exist for a reason)
  • Don’t mass email agents or publishers
  • Don’t write your life story about what inspired you to become a writer (no one needs to hear that when you were three your teacher told you that you had a good imagination)

With so many reasons to reject a manuscript, don’t put yourself out of the running before anyone has read your book at all. If you get the querying process right, you have already improved your odds. Agents and editors would much rather work with someone who knows what they are doing (whether do to experience or good research) to someone who appears too lazy to have made sure to check.

July 21, 2011

Getting Published: More on Queries

Filed under: Getting Published — Tags: , — ax20 @ 12:54 pm

There are so many things that it takes to get a manuscript requested. Read about one manuscript reader’s day and what she chose to request:

Getting Past the Gatekeeper

Getting Published: Improving Your Query Letter

Filed under: Getting Published — Tags: , — ax20 @ 12:52 pm

Knowing what to put into your query letter is a tricky thing and there are tons of small mistakes you can make to hurt your chances. To see some mistakes you should avoid, read here:

Spot the Deliberate Mistakes

July 7, 2011

Getting Published: Writing an Author Bio

Filed under: Getting Published — Tags: , — ax20 @ 3:19 pm

I have written a little about this before but check out this excellent post discussing how to write a good biography:

How to Write a Terrific Author Bio

June 23, 2011

Getting Published: Misused Words

Filed under: General Writing — Tags: , , — ax20 @ 2:20 pm

When submitting work to an agency, you don’t want to give them any reason to think you might not know what your doing. You don’t want typos, grammatical errors, or other problems that will make them think you aren’t careful with your work. One of the things you should be paying attention to is the words you choose to use. Misused words can lead to confusion and hesitation and can even take the reader out of your story.

Imagine you’re in the middle of an exciting scene:

Tom raced down the street. He had to catch them. If they got away it would be all over. He ducked around a group of kids, leapt over a pile of crate, and kept going. He was closing in, closer. He reached out his hands and grabbed the horses’ reigns.

Wait a minute, horses have reins, not reigns. In that moment, when a reader has to stop and think, he clearly meant a different word, the reader has been pulled from the story. And if the reader is going to get confused, likely so is an agent or a publisher. Sure, one typo will probably not kill your story, but a lot of them over the course of your manuscript might. And if they’re already on the fence, you don’t want to give them a stupid reason to back away. Here are two great blog posts talking about some words that people often confuse/misuse:
Commonly Confused Words
Fifteen Common Errors and How to Fix Them

June 21, 2011

Getting Published: Revisions

Filed under: Getting Published — Tags: , — ax20 @ 11:44 am

Sometimes you will submit your work and the agent will request (or suggest) revisions. As a writer, you always have to be able to take criticism. If the agent is bothering to request this, think of it as an opportunity. They see potential but your work isn’t quite there yet.

Sometimes I read a work and I know it has potential but I also see a major problem with something (like maybe the structure). We don’t usually give advice to authors because there are simply too many submissions to give people personal feedback, but in these cases I will suggest to the author that they do another draft of their work and consider revising the way they have done something (such as where they started the book or to speed up the pacing). This doesn’t mean that we will necessarily take their book should they make these changes, but it does mean we’re willing to reconsider the work.

Here is another agent’s take on revisions: What I Talk About When I Talk About Revisions

June 2, 2011

Getting Published: Synopsis

Filed under: Getting Published — Tags: , — ax20 @ 12:32 pm

Unlike your query letter, the synopsis provides a more in depth view of a novel. Here is where you can get into the more complicated parts of the story. (You still need to make sure it is clear, but you have more space to explain things.)

Make sure to hit all the major points of your book. (You still should not give every detail and event and character to show up, but you can expand on some of the details.) Introduce your main characters and the main conflicts. Give a clear idea of what your book is about, what the characters we will care about (or dislike), what is at stake for the heroes, what they stand to lose, and how it all turns out.

Don’t forget to include how it all turns out. Some writers think it is better to tease the editor, but the truth is, they have to know that there is a clear, reasonable ending. They have to know that it makes sense in the end and that you know how to finish a book (which is often one of the toughest parts).

A synopsis is generally written in third person, present tense. Make sure it is active (not passive). Be specific but not so specific that you include every detail.

Start where your book starts and end where it ends. If you tell an editor that your story is about a girl who has no memory of her past and must learn the truth, that is what they expect. If they then pick up your manuscript, expecting to read about an amnesiac girl only to find one who has her full memory, they will be disappointed. (This may actually be a flaw in the book itself since it would be more dramatic for us to start with her lack of memory and slowly discover the truth.)

A good idea would be to ask a friend who does not know about your book to read your synopsis. Do they understand it all? Does it interest them?

July 30, 2010

Getting Published: Why Mass Submissions Are a Bad Idea

Filed under: Getting Published — Tags: , — ax20 @ 2:52 pm

When submitting your work, it is tempting to create a single email, address it to “agent,” and then send it to a ton of agencies all at once. The internet makes this temptation even greater. Do not give in to this temptation! This approach can hurt you for a number of reasons, but here are a few quick ones:
1- it is impersonal, always address letters to a person when possible
2- it shows the agents that you are lazy, otherwise you’d have put in the time to address it appropriately and tailor your email (when necessary) based on the agency you are submitting to
3- agencies have different submission guidelines, so you will likely not be sending what is asked for to a number of agencies

You might say, “yeah, but it gets my work out to so many more agents at once so even if a few won’t consider it because of this, it will still mean that a number of them do.” This may be true, but let’s be honest, the good agencies are the ones that will likely discard it immediately. Those are the ones you want representing you. It will also give you fewer options and chances of getting published.

It isn’t all that difficult to create a basic template, fill in the specifics (name of the agency, a person’s name, and maybe change a few details based on who they are and what they’ve asked for), and send the emails separately. It may take a little longer, but it looks more professional, which is more appealing to an agency.

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