So, for those of you who have read my previous posts, you know how I have been working on my first YA Paranormal Romance novel. It’s been a long process, and I’ve done numerous edits as I’ve grown as a writer. And a part of that growth has come from broadening my reading list. Although my focus demographic are young adults, that does not mean I should stick to writing in that genre. Half of the books I’ve read are from independent/self-published authors–nothing wrong with self-published authors btw for those with their noses turned up–and the other half are authors who’ve gone with traditional publishers. Non-fiction as well as fiction.
I am not a non-fiction type of gal. It just doesn’t do it for me most of the time. I need more excitement, adventure and epic world-building I can fully immerse myself in for the few minutes a day I get time to myself. An escape from the chaos of the real world.
However, that’s not to say that some non-fiction can’t be exciting! Real life people can have real life exciting adventures, and write about it! There are plenty of memoirs and autobiographies out there. Louis Zamperini’s novel, Devil at my Heels takes you through a terrible ordeal, and emotionally epic battles through his experience as a POW (and if you have not seen the blockbuster film based on his novel titled Unbroken, directed by Angelina Jolie, you should).
And a second, completely different type of book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Elizabeth shares her knowledge in a BIG way, while being both conversational and playful. All with a much-needed no B.S voice, doing away with the so-called “tortured artist trope.” Cue eye-roll.
Readers have no choice but to take so much away from this book. Sure, there may be some disagreements, but few from me. She inspires readers to grasp onto their creativity, and own it! Don’t sit back, biting your nails in fear it won’t be received well, if at all. Just do it, and be proud of yourself for taking that step. You don’t need a “permission slip” to put your creativity out in the world.
If you want to be a successful writer, as so many best-selling authors and agents say, you have to be a reader! Read, and take notes. Take notes on how a best-selling author speaks to his/her demographic and hooks them in. From the beginning page to the end. Heck, even those not on the best-seller list that should be! Keep your notebook on you (obviously don’t plagiarize, come up with your own stuff, people!) and get that inspiration flowing.
Okay, so now onto the query process of finding representation and getting a traditional publisher.
For the last month I have been researching agents like crazy. Twitter feeds, LinkedIn, Publishers Marketplace, Query Tracker, AAR member pages, blog interviews and of course agency websites. It’s a lot of work, but to me it’s worth it. I don’t want to send a query to an agent I know won’t be a good fit, only based on the fact that they are successful.
My reasoning for that is this: Personalities! If someone is looking for the genre I am writing in, that’s a plus. If they are also interested in some or a lot of the things I am, check 2! If they have a sense of humor and can laugh at themselves but are also serious when it comes to selling, pushing and cheering for their client’s books, I want to work with that agent!
People come in all different shapes and sizes and what-not. There are some bad eggs everywhere, in every industry. And there are a lot of gems out there as well. Those are the ones I want to work with. One thing I’ve come across while researching agents Manuscript Wish Lists , are the examples of query letters most agents receive. And a lot are not respectful or humble, but filled with nauseating arrogance.
It baffles me, how someone could be so arrogant, especially a writer who has had no experience and is asking for representation for his/her first book, like the agent should get on their knees and beg to represent them.
Come on, seriously?
Literary agents have hundreds, if not thousands of queries come in weekly. Some with degrees, or past experience in the film industry or other successful agencies and publishing houses, many also have a good amount of editing experience.
I’m not saying you should bow down to them, either–they are human beings, not Gods–what I’m saying is you should be respectful, humble! Take their criticism and learn from it if they are generous enough to take time away from their hectic schedules to give some advice. Sure, it’s a bit hurtful and maybe a little irritating when you hear absolutely nothing back or get a form rejection letter. But be polite human beings and move on, don’t send out responses filled with hateful and negative words. That just makes you look terrible and immature, and you’ll burn bridges with them if one day you have a great book and try to send something to them again, or anyone else at that agency.
Just do your research and be optimistic, but not overly confident or arrogant. There are no guarantees you’ll get an agent after you’ve sent out 50 queries, that’s just pure luck, and super rare from what I’ve heard. And that’s if you’ve done everything you can to make your novel ready. Do not send queries out for a book you haven’t finished. Be responsible.
And also, agents don’t get paid unless they can sell a book. So they need to be absolutely in love with your work. That is why researching is so important. Look for their updated wish lists and query accordingly so you can get a better idea of their wants. Some can be super specific with what they’re looking for, too.