Friday, May 3, 2013
I've recently came in contact with an amazing 16 year-old writer named, Lilly Maison. I found her on Jessica (another amazing writer) Brody's blog HERE. Her super short story won 3rd place at “A Chance to Unremember” hosted by Figment.com.
And that's not all; Lily was recently recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing awards for one of her short stories and received a gold medal. Did I mention she's only sixteen? Wow! Ah-mazing!!
Lilly is working on editing her novel and preparing it for submission to literary agents. She asked if I had any advice for her about the process? Oh, do I?!
BTW All you seasoned writers, please feel free to direct a comment to her below. I know there are probably some things I missed. And I know a lot of you have got some great things to share.
Advice about the submission process? Hmmmmm…let's see now, before you hit the Send button make sure you've already sent your ms (manuscript) to several trusted CPs aka critique partners. Don't have any? Join a writing group. There are some free ones online such as YALITCHAT. Ask around, referrals are priceless.
The professional ones are obviously not free but well worth it as you are in the midst of seasoned writers (lots on bestselling authors too) and some even offer free classes. SCBWI, RWA, ACFW, ITW to name a few popular ones.
Follow your dream agents on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Learn more about them. Sometimes they even send out tweets regarding what's on their submission wish list. You can also create a list of them on Twitter or star or group them on Facebook so they all can come up on one feed. Nobody will ever know you're stalking them
On Twitter you may list them publically or privately. All you have to do is go to the person's page and click on the person icon next to the Follow button. Click on 'Add or Remove From Lists.'
And don't forget to personalize the query. Mention one of your favorite authors they represent, if they do. Or if you follow their blog and enjoy reading, don't be shy to let them know.
Always keep track of who you query (also the agency they work for) and the date you sent it out. When they respond, jot down the date and the status i.e. rejection or request-full/partial. I also save my sent emails of the requests I send out, organizing them in an email folder for reference. I don't know how many times I went back when in need. It really saved me.
I'm sure you know this but just in case, remember you NEVER EVER pay for an agent. Ever. Let me repeat that, you NEVER EVER PAY FOR AN AGENT OR A PUBLISHER. If they ask for any kind of reading fees or any fees at all, run the other way. This includes any editing system they feel you can benefit from. Chances are they are getting commission on your referral. Under no circumstances should you pay anything. Real publishers and real literary agents do not charge a penny.
If you can, not crucial but definitely useful, establish a platform. Get your name out there and interact. Agents and publishers like to see potential authors working hard and building a fan base. Blog, participate in social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, even Pinterest.
If you're querying, your goal is to get published—might as well start with the platforming and building now. I've met some pretty amazing people just by interacting with them on blogs and social networks. So it really isn't just all work. It's very much worth it.
When sending out subs, query batches of maybe six to eight at a time. It's best to get feedback and see how it goes rather than ruining all your chances at once. And besides if everyone is noting the same thing, i.e. "I didn't connect with the protagonist/didn't click with the characters" or "The voice wasn't strong enough for me/GMCs weren't clear enough" maybe it's time to reevaluate their feedback. Professional criticism is gold!
Here are some of my favorite sites to research agents:
Casey McCormick Literary Rambles blog
Lastly, EXPECT REJECTIONS.
Even the best of the best have to endure those heart stinging oh, so lovely rejections. I know, I know but why? Why can't it be easy? For some a streak of luck surpasses those dagger disses. But keep in mind some of the most well-known work of all time have gotten the boot too.
And if good fortune is on your side, you might not have to endure many but for the most part rejections are definitely inevitable. It's why I created an Encouragement page. If you ever need a little pick me up click HERE. Hope it helps. But don't let it get you down. Take what you can and learn from each and every one (if it's not a form rejection) and grow, grow, grow. It does a writer's mind good.
Keep in mind each rejection is closer to that YES and THE CALL! Whoop whoop! Be like Stephen King and hang them on your wall with a railroad spike. (Or not. If you live with your mom. I'm sure she'd freak. I'm not responsible J.) He had so many but it didn't falter him. Be like Steph.
In the process don't forget patience is a virtue. Without it every writer would be shipped to the loony bin. Send your work off and dive into another project. Always strive to grow in your craft. The publishing industry is a lot like turtle racing. Most of the time, it's gonna take weeks, sometimes months depending on the agent and/or publisher.
And if they happen to ask if you have anything else, bam, now you have a great answer in return. <Why yes, I do (or will, depending on your time frame with ms) Ms. Such & Such, thank you for asking. >
Don't be shy. Leave them in a comment below!
And here's my For Writers link for more help. Best of luck and let us all know when you get that call so we can celebrate with you!
How To Get A Literary Agent: A Step-By-Step Guide To Finding Representation For Your Novel Or Nonfiction Book