Novel Update #6
After the whirlwind of finishing my book to hand into a structural editor on May 31, I’ve found June a bit of a let down. It’s like when you’re a kid and have been waiting for months for Christmas to come and then an hour after opening your gifts you feel…meh. All these characters have been having conversations in my brain and it’s weird not writing their stories these past three weeks.
Agent Query Letter
I wrote my first Agent Query Letter. This is a letter where you try to convince a literary agent that your book is the next Harry Potter, or at least will sell a few thousand books so the publishing house breaks even. Here are the basics:
Each agent will have their own set of guidelines for what they want to see. Writers have to research to see which agents are interested in their book genre so you’re not wasting anyone’s time. For example, I have a target list of 30 historical fiction agents. I have to do a deep dive to see if they are open to my time period in the 18th century or if they only specialize in say, World War II or Viking stories.
The cover letter should be less than a page with your hook (why the reader will be interested) and which other books it’s similar too. It should include a brief bio and your ideas for future books, so the agent knows you are a solid investment opportunity. (Ah, business.)
This was excruciating for me! You have to take your entire 400+ page book and consolidate it into 2-3 single spaced pages where you tell all major plot points and not make it sound choppy. As a writer whose philosophy is, ‘Why use one word when you can use fifteen?’ this was incredibly difficult for me.
First Three Chapters
If the agent makes it through your cover letter and synopsis, they will want to read your actual writing. They’re looking for the first three chapters (or first 30-50 pages if your chapters are very short) and they want the writing to leave them wanting to see what happens next. These sections should be double-spaced with page numbers.
If the agent likes your proposal she/he will request the full manuscript and then decide if she wants to sign you as a client. Once signed, she’ll shop your story around to publishers to see if they want it. In a perfect world there will be a bidding war, you’ll get paid seven figures and your novel will become an HBO series that lasts seven years. A lot of times though you just get rejection letters, or, if the agent is busy/rude, no word at all. This is why people submit to multiple agents at the same time.
I’m part of a writers group, where you submit 1,000 – 5,000 words per month of your work in progress, so this month I handed in my draft agent query. I’m really looking forward to their feedback. Apparently there are writing coaches who specialize in helping you write amazing query letters so at least you get your foot in the door.
Beyond that, I’m focused on reading more books. I’ve already finished two short books on writing by DiAnn Mills (Exploring the Art of Character and Exploring the Art of Emotion and Dialogue) and I’m currently reading 1st to Die by James Patterson. I’m one of the few women alive who isn’t all that interested in crime stories, but I have to admit this book is pretty amazing. I’m learning a lot about writing just by reading it.
That’s it for me. What are you working on?
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