Monday, November 5, 2007

How Not to Query

They say you learn more from failure than success. If that's the case, I've learned a whole lot about getting a novel published these past few months. Allow me to share my wisdom so that those who come after me do not have to tread such a thorny path:
  • TARGET YOUR QUERY: I noticed that many agents say they will look at fantasy, but few actually publish it. So, before you send the letter, make sure the agent has a recent publishing deal in your genre. You want to make sure that she knows how to sell what you've got. Besides, agents who don't publish books like yours are a lot less likely to seriously consider your manuscript.
  • HONE YOUR PARTIAL: Before you send the letter, make sure your first fifty pages are in top condition. Read them over carefully. Did you get to the plot? Did you begin to develop the interesting aspects of the characters? Did your exposition succeed in enticing the reader to want more? Hand out the first fifty pages to some people you trust, have them read, and get their honest opinion. If they're not dying to read the rest of the book, little chance an agent will be. The second agent I heard back from wanted a partial, but, alas, my first fifty pages did not impress her. I have since rewritten the first fifty pages. If I'd done that in the first place I might be signing a contract right now.
  • NEVER GIVE UP: Someone will be my agent. If I don't get any takers in this next round, I'll revise the book, revise the letter, revise the synopsis, and try again! This is a game of luck and skill. I have the skill, and luck will come with time.

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