Tuesday, April 3, 2012


At this point it in my story, I had two completed manuscripts, both of epic length. Every word and paragraph is so amazing to me that I can’t imagine cutting anything, (huge mistake, more on this later). I finally decide to do a little research. How the heck do you go about getting published anyway? I had no idea. It seemed like rocket science to me.

It isn’t.

But, you do have to do your homework. There is so much information at your fingertips via the internet, it’s amazing. Everything you need to know is there. Keep searching, keep reading, keep learning. I learned many things at this time and I will share these little golden nuggets with you.

Golden nugget #1: The literary agent

Having an agent is a good thing. They are your advocate. They work to sell your book and they fight for the best deal possible. A reputable agent will cost you nothing. They only make money if you make money. I have found that literary agents are by far the best source of information for learning about publishing. They have their fingers on the pulse of the publishing industry. They know what they’re talking about. I found that if I went to their websites, they almost always had a wealth of knowledge at my fingertips—advice, what to do and what not to do, and much appreciated guidance.

I found that there is a huge misconception about agents. Agents are not someone you hire to work for you. You are in essence, ‘applying to be their client.’ If they like your work and think they can sell it, they will offer you a contract.

To find an agent, I subscribed to Writer’s Market. They provide you with lists of agencies and publishing houses in your genre and the money is well worth your time and effort.

Golden nugget #2: The query letter

As I searched for information, I found many literary agencies that publish romance. Most of their websites offered information on how to write the dreaded query letter. Before I did my research, I’d never even heard of a query letter and I had to learn how to write one. I learned that, basically, the query letter is a one-page document that tells the literary agent/publishing house: your personal information, the title of your book, the genre, the word count, and the blurb. The blurb is usually one paragraph. It’s purpose is to tell the reader about your book. When you go to the library/bookstore, one of the first things you do is turn the book over and read the blurb, right? What is the book about? Is there something about the blurb that makes you want to read/buy the book? Your blurb should hook the reader, but it should not give away the ending, or reveal plot elements that you’d rather keep secret. Often, the blurb the author writes on the query letter is the blurb that ends up on the back cover of the book when it is available for purchase. It better be good! (no pressure)

Golden nugget #3: The synopsis
I quickly learned that besides the query letter, I also needed to have a synopsis of my book. The synopsis is usually a 2-5 page double-spaced document. It should tell your story without sucking the life out of it. Easier said than done. It should reveal the ending. It should not keep the climactic moments a secret. If you hide the ‘fantastic ending,’ you will be revealed as a novice. The agent/publishing house wants to know what your story is about from beginning to end, they want to know that you can tell a story from beginning to end. If they like it, they’ll ask to read the manuscript. The synopsis is important because it needs to hook the reader into wanting to read your manuscript. (an amazing moment)

Golden nugget #4: Submission guidelines

Literary agents/publishers most commonly ask for two things to begin with: a query letter and a synopsis. They don’t want to see your manuscript. Yet.

Do not send out a manuscript without a request for said manuscript. It will not be read.

If they like your query letter and your synopsis—if you’re lucky—they’ll request to see the first three chapters of your manuscript. (By now, it should be obvious why the query letter and synopsis are so very important. They are the tools that get your manuscript noticed, a necessary evil)

All agencies/publishers want something different. Do not send out a mass e-mail of your query letter to every agency that appeals to you. Do your homework. Go to a literary agent’s website. Most agencies prefer you to query one agent within their agency. Make sure they publish the genre of book you write. Read the agent’s list of books they are acquiring. Only query the agent that is acquiring the genre of book you write. All agents have submission information. Read it and tailor each submission to the agent you are querying. This takes time and effort, but if you want an agent, you have to abide by their guidelines. A mass e-mail sent out to several agents is a sure-fire path to REJECTION. For example, some agents want only a query letter. Some want a query letter and a synopsis. Some want a query letter, a synopsis, and the first ten pages of the manuscript. Some want a query letter, a synopsis, and the first three chapters of your manuscript. Some want the information in the body of the e-mail. Some want it via snail-mail. Some want a certain thing written in the subject line of the email, etc, etc. You get the idea. Take the time to know what the submission guidelines are and follow them.

Armed with this knowledge, I finally set off on my querying adventure.

And found myself in Rejection City.

Image: Ohmmy3d / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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