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Showing posts with label rejection. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rejection. Show all posts

Saturday, March 12, 2011

TOPIC: Search for the Holy Grail...umm, Agent! (part 2)

Last post I asked the questions – Should you get an agent? Where do you start? How do you know if they’re reputable? Who do you aim for? What should you include in a query letter? Do you go snail mail or email?

Steps 1 & 2 were all about researching agents and making a prioritised list of your preferred agents. Let's move on.

Step 3 – Write a query letter and/or collate appropriate sample pages/partials as per the guidelines for each agent. Some will want only the query letter, some a QL and 5/10 pages of your work, some a QL & synopsis.

When you start this process only work on 5 submissions at a time. Too many and you run the risk of confusing specifics and there’s nothing more unprofessional than sending the wrong thing to your “dream” agent and it’s a sure way to be culled.

Check the guidelines. Double check. Then check again. How easy is it for an agent to disregard your query when you haven’t adhered to them?

*Some advice for query letters, no fluffy stuff. Agents don’t have time to read waffle, not with 50 to 100 queries a day (and that’s a conservative estimate, I’m sure). They want to know what your book is about, the conflict, the idea - think back cover blurb, and any relevant info about you. Keep it brief, no more than an A4 page. The details about characters and your more complete bio can come later once you’ve hooked them with your story.

Agent blogs sometimes address what makes a good query letter. Two blogs with good examples include BookEnds Literary Agency and Pub Rants by agent Kristen Nelson.

Step 4 – Keep track of your submissions. Whether you create a database on the computer or on paper you stick to your office wall, know who you sent a query to, when you sent it, what manuscript you pitched, the timeframe they suggest contacting them if you’ve haven’t heard from them, what response you got etc., any information that tracks your progress in your search for an agent.

Send out 5 queries at a time. As one comes back, send out another to the next agent on your list. And so on.

I highlighted any agent who sent back something more than a standard rejection eg. personal comments about the manuscript. It meant they were interested enough to take the time to do that, and they’re the ones to target with a new pitch and new manuscript next time. Just refresh their memory about your prior contact with them in any subsequent QL.

Step 5 – Celebrate your successes. When you get a request for a partial or full, pat yourself on the back, even if they’re eventually rejected. Share the good times with your friends. It keeps the batteries recharged and makes the slog worthwhile.

Also note down on your database the agents who requested partials or fulls – again they liked your voice enough to possibly request and read other work by you.

Just remember:
  1. Aim high – agents can only say no, but they might also say “I'd like to officially offer you representation.”
  2. Research your agents carefully – if they offer you representation you want to know you’re signing with someone you can work with.
  3. Maintain a professional & polite attitude – rudeness will come back to bite you. If you end up with several agents requesting fulls have the courtesy to tell the others there are “X” number of agents also reading your work (no need to name them specifically). It lets them know others are interested.
  4. Persevere – anyone with an agent will tell you they didn’t give up looking for one after getting a rejection or two.
Good luck in your hunt for an agent!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

TOPIC: Searching for the Holy Grail...umm, Agent! (part 1)

Back by popular demand - another post on finding an agent.

I’m sure we’ve all asked the questions – Should I get an agent? Where do I start? How do I know if they’re reputable? Who do I aim for? What should I include in a query letter? Do I go snail mail or email?

It seems a daunting process, and yes, hunting for an agent is time consuming. No bones about it, but I think you’ll find the end reward satisfying.

The first question to ask yourself is - do I need an agent? Consider this, agents have a better idea of the industry and contract law not to mention the contacts and knowledge of wheeling and dealing – so unless you’re prepared to learn the business side of representing yourself in detail then it’s probably a good idea to find one.

There are authors in our organization who don’t have an agent and deal with that side of the business themselves – the decision of “do I or don’t I?” really is a personal choice.

So, what’s next, if you do decide you need an agent?


Step 1 - Research. This is where the Internet comes in handy. Typing in a search for literary agents/agencies will get you a screed of sites to look through. Some are more helpful than others.

Personally, I found Agent Query excellent. Other sites you might like to browse include Absolute Write (www.absolutewrite.com) or Preditors & Editors. They’ll also give you information on whether they’re legitimate agents/agencies.

*Rule of thumb – agents never charge up front for their services. If you come across one that does, steer clear of them.

Alternatively, ask your critique groups or other writing friends about agents/agencies. Check out your favourite authors (the ones you most write like) and see if they have an acknowledgments page. They might thank their agent. It’s simply a matter of then searching for them on the internet.

Most agents & agencies these days have a website and they tell you the genres they do/don’t represent. They also have guidelines of what to send them and how they prefer it sent.

Step 2 - Make a list. Twenty’s a good number to start with. Once you’ve trawled through agent websites, pick the ones you most like/want/dream of representing you and prioritise them in order of personal preference.

Divide them into email and snail mail submissions. Obviously, email is going to be more cost effective for you and a lot of agents are now using this environmentally friendly method (it may not always be “quicker” in terms of a response but there is that slight advantage to email submissions).

This begs the question – do I target a big agency/agent or a small one? After asking some of my friends who have agents (yes, there’s networking for you), there are pluses to both.

The big name agent of a large agency will always be difficult to crack, their lists are usually full. That doesn’t mean you cross them off your preferred A list just because you’re a new up-and-coming author (case in point, Gracie O’Neil recently signed with Nephele Tempest and Bronwen Evans signed with Melissa Jeglinski, both from The Knight Agency). Don’t take it personally when they pass on your query. Move on to someone else.

Junior agents at large agencies could also be a great opportunity - they're learning from the best, and they have to build up their experience and contacts before they open lists of their own. Once they do then they’re going to be keen to build them. Larger agencies also have staff - they've got more time for tasks like doing their website, promotions etc. from which authors can benefit.

Smaller agencies are often run by an agent who used to work for a large agency before going out on his/her own. So it’s a matter of researching the agent's history to determine their level of experience. Newly formed or smaller agencies can be a good choice because the agent will be building up their client list and willing to take on new clients.

Whether you give preference to a big name agent/agency or a small one, what seems to matter is the agent's track record, reputation and resources; how well connected they are and what kind of experience they have etc. These are things to consider when deciding on your list.

Once you have an agent interested in signing with you then the all important compatibility factor comes into play - personal chemistry (in that initial phone call to discuss representation), the alignment of goals concerning your work, how you hope to operate within the parameters of the author/agent relationship etc.

Next post I'll look at query letters, formulating lists of agents and dealing with rejection.

Friday, April 23, 2010

TOPIC: Rejection Letters: "The Offer" (Part 4)

If you go back over the last few posts on this topic I'm sure you'll see the striking differences in each form of rejection letter. Each type have become more personalised and attentive to detail - all steps in the right direction. Whether you're submitting to agents or editors you can use these as a guide on how to interpret the contents of your letters.

This week I'm sharing "The Offer" letter. The one goal you've been working hard towards. (Keep in mind this is all based on my limited experience - hey, I've only ever had one "offer" and it happened to be with an agent but I'm always hopeful I'll be widening my experience in this field in the near future! ;-) )

EXAMPLE

Dear Kylie,

I find myself frustrated at the difference between our time zones, at the second, as I'm assuming you're still asleep.  (The internet tells me that it's 4:44am by you, right now.)

Anyway, I know this is rather sudden, but I'd like to officially offer you representation.  The reasons for this are two-fold:

1. You write well and even from the two partials you sent me, I can tell that your books will sell to a publisher.  I would normally prefer to read the entire full manuscript first, but this brings me to point 2...

2. Editor A at Publishing House A, who is their romance editor, is desperately looking for a full manuscript to fill a hole in her publishing schedule.  I would like to jump on this chance for you, since I think Publishing House A would be an ideal place for Manuscript A.

I'll be spending the rest of the day reading Manuscipt A; I'd love to chat with you on the phone, but I think we're going to need to set up a time, due to the time differences.  I have very inexpensive long distance from my home phone line, so I can call you.

(SHE GOES ON TO OUTLINE HER SCHEDULE AND ASKS IF WE CAN FIND A TIME THAT SUITS BOTH OF US FOR A PHONE CALL). That will give me a chance to get most of Manuscript A read.  I am very excited about your writing, and I really would love to work with you.

I've been using http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/meeting.html to figure the corresponding times between you and I out.  I'm in the same time zone as New York City (40 miles south of it), and I've been using Sydney for your time zone.

Best,
Agent X


When this sort of letter arrives you sit there, stunned and shell-shocked. Suspicious you've imagined the content, you re-read the letter because you were expecting just another rejection. When you realise it's NOT then, believe me, emotion overwhelms you - you will cry, and scream, and dance, and re-read the letter a hundred more time, and then panic because you wonder what to do next.

HINT: Give yourself a day or two to calm down and reboot your brain so you can think logically and prepare for the next step in your journey - deciding what to do!

I hope this series of postings has been useful. All the best on your journey to publication!

Friday, April 16, 2010

TOPIC: Rejection Letters: "Nearly There" (Part 3)

This week several letters highlighting responses from agents and editors on what you might expect if you're "nearly there". You'll notice that most of these have a mix of positives and constructive feedback, as well as highly personalised comments.

EXAMPLE 1

Two brief, succinct responses to query letters to two different agents. 

1st - Sounds intriguing!  Please send me the first 50 pages + synopsis at my address below.  I look forward to reading your material.

Agent X
Agency X Literary Agency

2nd - Sounds like you’ve got what it takes.  Please email me the first three chapters and a synopsis (1-2 pages) and I’ll give it a look.

Agent Y
Agency Y Literary Agents


 EXAMPLE 2

Dear Kylie

I liked Manuscript A a lot.  I’ve been looking for futuristic/military romance for quite a while and haven’t found anything even close.  But I liked Manuscript A enough to read the whole thing.  Since you’re in Australia, can you email me the full manuscript?  A brief synopsis as well. 

I’m mired in the last days’ chaos of putting on a world-class writers conference in Big City next week, so I probably won’t be able to read the full until late February/early March.  I’d appreciate it if you’d let me know if another agent requests the full before I can get to it.  

Manuscript B was not as exciting to me as Manuscript A.  At this time I’m not going to ask to read anything further.  Maybe down the road.

Thank you.

Agent Z
Agency Z Literary Agents


This is one of the letters you hope you get once you start looking for representation with an agent. I took a chance and pitched two manuscripts to her. As you can see she chose to see only one. The next example is her follow-on letter from this one.

EXAMPLE 3

Dear Kylie,

Manuscript A is a good read.  In my earlier days as an agent I would have taken you on and worked with you to prune this manuscript so that it screamed from the first page to the last.  Unfortunately I am so busy now, I no longer have the luxury to do a major editing cycle with a writer before I sign them.  However, if you can work with a critique group or a book doctor or by yourself to edit Manuscript A I’d definitely reconsider it.  Seriously reconsider it.  You’re very close.  I got all the way to where Heroine declares her love for Hero after she learns he’s a former RACE Patrol officer, saw that there were more than 100 pages to go to the end of the book and gave up.  That’s a long way through a big manuscript and even though I threw in the towel the curiosity is still tickling my brain—how will they trick VILLAIN?  How will it all end?  So that’s great news.

Now, what do you need to edit, you ask?  First, the story is too long.  Not so much in word count, but you’ve added a lot of scenes that do not move the plot forward and have extended scenes where the dialogue or action needs to be pared because it is repetitious or non-essential.  You need to go over each scene, scene-by-scene, and if it doesn’t slam the plot forward, delete or prune it.  For example, too much chit-chat occurs frequently.  We don’t need a play-by-play when they are stuck in the asteroid crack waiting for nightfall so they can deliver the weapons to the rebels.  Move forward.  No dancing on Dagara.  Etc.  Lots of that.  I flipped through the rest of the manuscript even though I’d stopped reading critically.  (HERE SHE LISTS CERTAIN SCENES AND WHAT DIDN'T APPEAL TO HER.)  I’m hoping these scenes jump out at you.  If not, well, that’s a whole other problem.  (Also, for the American market you’ll have to change the “our”s to “or”s...flavor, favorite, etc....and there are a few other Aust/NZ idioms...doctor’s office is what we call it in the states, not surgery...that will need cleaning up...minor, minor things, but need correction.)

However, as I said before, you are very close.  If you do a major rewrite of this manuscript to eliminate the dross and fine tune it so that every single word pulls its own weight, I think you’ll have a manuscript I can sell to a large New York publisher.  As it stands now, I couldn’t sell it.  An editor would have stopped long before I did and politely said, “I think Ms. X writes very well, but I just didn’t fall in love with the manuscript.”  I don’t want to see that happen.  You do write very well.  You just need to “kill your little darlings.”  If you don’t know what that means, Google the phrase!

Your thoughts?

Agent Z
Agency Z Literary Agents


This response was heart in your throat stuff when I received it - a rejection but oh, so close! Agent C gave copious amounts of feedback about what appealed to her and what didn't work and how I could fix it.

And, the two killer statements - can you pick them? "...if you can work with a critique group or a book doctor or by yourself to edit Manuscript A I’d definitely reconsider it.  Seriously reconsider it." and "If you do a major rewrite of this manuscript to eliminate the dross and fine tune it so that every single word pulls its own weight, I think you’ll have a manuscript I can sell to a large New York publisher."

So, guess what I began working on after that? :-) I also responded to her question and gave her my thoughts on the comments she'd made.

EXAMPLE 4

This from another agent after pitching in a query letter two manuscripts she might be interested in, a request for the partials of both and then a submission of them to her.

Hi Kylie,

The manuscripts are in the right format, thanks!

I'll read Manuscript A first; I'm very interested in your work.  If you hear anything from another agent, before I get a chance to write back, which may take me a week or so, as I'm attending a conference this weekend--please, let me know immediately.  I want to get a chance to offer you representation too, if another agent offers it first.

Best,
Agent A


EXAMPLE 5

This was the end result of an editorial pitching session at an RWAustralia conference. The editor requested a partial during the pitch, liked it and requested the full manuscript. She rang me to say she liked the full and was taking it to the board. Then she emailed me to say they were undecided and so she'd passed it on to the head offices in the UK and US. This letter was the culmination of that roller coaster ride.

Dear Kylie,

Thank you very much for your patience. Finally I have to tell you that we have decided we don’t think (Publishing House) would be the right list for your manuscript. It was read here and in the Orbit offices in the UK and the US, and everyone enjoyed your writing but felt the story was geared more towards romance than to sci-fi/fantasy. It would be better suited to a romance list.

I am sorry it has taken a while for us to come to this conclusion, but we gave it a lot of thought and talked about it across three continents.

I would like to wish you all the very best with your writing.

Regards
Editor A

Publishing House A

Another near miss. But so encouraging. The correspondence was very positive even though, ultimately, it ended in rejection.

As a nice aside - the editor contacted me months after this, just after I'd won the RWA Valerie Parv Award to congratulate me on my achievement. She'd remembered me from all those months ago!

Next time I'll share the bee's knees; the holy grail of all letters - the offer of representation!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Missing In Action!

Well, it won't be long now until I head O/S to Italy - the trip is coming up fast (the friend whom I'm meeting up with when I get over there has already left to catch up with rello's! *grin*).

While planning and writing the first draft my next WIP (a very hot sf romance), I've been busy organising and preparing posts that will be featured here while I'm away.

Here's the line up of what's ahead so you can keep an eye out for them.

16 April - Rejection Letters: "Nearly There R's" (p.3)
23 April - Rejection Letters: "The Offer" (p.4)
30 April - Author-Agent Contracts (what do they consist of?)
7 May - Romance Writers Conferences
14 May - Favourite Things
21 May - Italy Highlights (& photo's)!

If I can wangle the time and access to the internet, there'll no doubt be a couple of posts on my travels. I may also have contest news to share as some of the finalist announcements or placings deadlines fall while I'm sight-seeing. Fingers crossed for that!

Now, I'm going to go back to my Italy CD and see what other phrases I can learn in Italian before I get there!

Friday, March 26, 2010

TOPIC: Rejection Letters: "The Semi-Personal" (Part 2)

Last week I shared some very basic forms of the Standard Rejection Letter. Today, I have a few semi-personalised ones to show you. These aren't much above the SRL, but it seems whomever read the work either saw a glimmer of potential in the work I submitted, or felt strongly moved enough to tell me to get help to hone my writing skills.

I suspect the latter, but then we always opt for the negative, don't we? ;-)


EXAMPLE 1 

Dear Contributor,

Thank you for writing to us about your project. It does seem like a good story and thoughtful book, but, unfortunately, not one that we could best publish.

It's a tough world for writers out there. You might want to find an agent to market your book. The Literary Market Place (available at your local library), is a good place to start. I would suggest getting involved in a writers' group that can offer you ongoing support and a creative environment to work in.

Whatever path you may choose, we wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.

Sincerely,
Publisher X Editorial

This scrapes in as semi-personal rejection letter. Why? Look at the information in the second paragraph. The editorial assistant has advised me to a) find an agent; b) find a reference book and c) join a writers' group. All hints that I need to develop my writing skills and knowledge about the industry (which I was sorely lacking when I submitted this proposal). Whomever read this took time and was kind enough to impart this advice rather than whip out the Standard Rejection Letter.

EXAMPLE 2 

Dear Kylie,

Thank you for submitting chapters of your manuscripts A and B. I have read through your work and enjoyed aspects of it very much.

However, I also think you need to work on your expression and sentence structure. See, for example, the fifth sentence of the first paragraph of Manuscript A: here, the use of pronouns is confusing as SECONDARY CHARACTER and the bird are both referred to by feminine pronouns, and the reader has to reread the sentence to get the proper sense. Also, many of the sentences are heavily loaded with adjectives and adverbs. I suggest cutting back on these as they tend to clutter the writing.

In view of these matters and after careful consideration, I'm afraid that I do not feel sufficiently confident about finding a publisher for this work, and we are therefore unable to offer to represent you.

As we have previously noted, another reader might have a completely different response, and so I encourage you to send your work to other agents, or directly to publishers. I hope the comments here are helpful to that end.

Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to read this new work; I certainly wish you well with it and I'm sorry we were unable to be of assistance to you.

Yours sincerely,
Agent A

Is this a positive response? I'd give this a reserved yes. There's some personal feedback here from the agent. Helpful, to a point. In a nutshell, she's telling me my grammar and writing style needs lots of work. But at least she's taken the time to tell me this.

EXAMPLE 3 

Dear Kylie,

Thank you for sending me Manuscript F. Unfortunately, I don't think it's really right for Publishing House D paranormal romance line. While it's clear you've put a lot of thought into the world you've constructed, your characters are less interesting. RACE A are flawlessly good, and RACE B are flawlessly evil - what makes people interesting are their shades of grey, their choices. None of your characters seem to struggle over their choices - nor do they even seem to have to make difficult choices.

I also had a problem with the prophecy. A good prophecy is mysterious, and adds an element o the unknown and uncertain to the tale. You prophecy is very cut and dry and obvious - there is no mystery, there is no struggle for deciphering it. That cuts out half the fun!

If you have anything else that would be suitable for Publishing House D's paranormal romance program, please feel free to send it along; I'd be happy to look at it.

Cheers,
Assistant Editor

Ouch, eh? Lots of blows here to the confidence and ego, and believe me I winced with every one. Positives? Well, I aimed it at the right house. This one accepted paranormal romances and took the time to read it. She pointed out what I needed to work on - she took the time to give me personalised feedback. More often than not editors don't, can't, they're too busy, but this told me she was interested enough to give me a few pointers. It meant pretty much tearing the book apart and reconstructing it from the foundations up, but it was feedback. There's also a generic offer to submit fresh material.

EXAMPLE 4

This from another editor who read the same manuscript mentioned in the last example. I'd edited and worked on the ms before submitting it to this publishing house/editor. 

Dear Kylie,

Thank you for thinking of Publishing House G for Manuscript F, and for your patience! The manuscript had gotten a favourable read and I wanted to take the time to evaluate it personally.

Although Manuscript F doesn't quite work for us, I did enjoy many aspects of the story and would be interested in seeing other projects if you have something suitable for one of our lines.

The strengths of your story include a strong plot and scene tension (especially after the first few chapters), ans appealing characters - HEROINE comes across as having great potential - my main concern was that the romance is too developed, and the scope of the story isn't fully explored. Too, there are occassionally colloquial expressions that don't quite fit with the setting. The VILLAIN seems to be carried along a bit too long and feels forced as he lurks around.

And except for the other world and the seer, there isn't a sense of pervasive energy or magic about the story. The setting is vaguely Earthlike, but there isn't a real sense of the differences that make this world unique.

The story is also shorter than our needs - at least 100 000 words. Some of that might be addressed by developing the quest aspects and the magic feel. And more could be added with a revision of the conclusion which feels rather abrupt. There's a let-down that things are wrapped up in that fashion- and the ending becomes too strongly romantic with the pregnancy aspect. And it also leaves open what their future together will be like.

Again, thank you for thinking of us, and do let me know if you rework Manuscript F. You can also send along the other manuscripts you pitched as appropriate to Publishing House G. But do keep in mind we're looking for a larger scope to the stories.

Sincerely,
Executive Editor

This is a borderline semi-personal rejection letter but I decided to put it in this category because ultimately there was too much work to be done despite it being a highly personalised and detailed. Again, lots of work to do on the manuscript but, in general, it garnered interest and an invitation to submit other work suitable for the line.

Another thing to note is that this response came from an Executive Editor - a step up along the food chain in the publishing house. Look at the opening paragraph she mentions "The manuscript had gotten a favourable read, and I wanted to take the time to evaluate it personally." This has arrived on the slush pile, probably been read by a junior or assistant editor, caught their attention and been passed along to the executive editor. Progress!

Next time I'll share the almost there part of your journey in querying and multiple submissions and rejections.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

TOPIC: Rejection Letters: "The Standard One" (Part 1)

As writers we all know that some stage in our journey to publication we're going to be faced with the dreaded rejection letter. Many, many, many times.

We send off our queries to agents and editors, our hopes pinned on that someone will be interested enough to want to read more, request more of our work, but the odds are heavily in favour of finding a rejection letter in our in-box/the mail. It's a great way to develop perseverance and that much lauded thick-skin.

One thing I've learned over the years of sending stuff out is that there are a variety of rejection letters. There's the standard rejection letter, the semi-personalised rejection letter, the almost there personal rejection letter, and the "holy grail" acceptance letter - the one we dream of receiving.

I'd like to share over the next few posts some of the ones I've received to give you an idea of what to expect if you're just starting down this path.

This week we'll begin with...

The Standard Rejection Letter
There are a few of different types. The first three are in response to submitting a manuscript to a publishing house through their slush pile. The fourth is one from an agent.

EXAMPLE 1 

Dear Writer,

Thank you for sending your manuscript (enclosed) to Publishing House B for our consideration.

We have decided that it is not for us, but we wish you every success in placing it with another publisher.

Yours sincerely,
Submissions Editor
Publishing House B

This is the short and sweet, no mucking around rejection letter. Who knows why they rejected the manuscript - could have been wrong house, not acquiring this genre, it was a badly written ms from the slush pile, nothing appealed to me when I read it, it was formatted wrong, we don't accept unsolicited ms - your guess is as good as mine.

What can you learn from this? Not a lot, shrug it off and move on. Submit it elsewhere. Hope for more constructive feedback.

EXAMPLE 2 

Dear Kylie, 

Thank you for your recent submission regarding your manuscript entitled Manuscript A.

After much consideration, we are unfortunately unable to take you up on your offer of publication as we did not feel that the work was suitable for the current "Publishing Company" List.

Thank you once again for writing to us and we wish you every success with placing your manuscript with another publisher.

Yours sincerely,
Name
Acquisitions Editor

This letter tells you one glaring, blantantly obvious error that I made when I submitted this manuscript to the publishing house. Can you see what it is?

Yep, I targeted the wrong house. The give away phrase - "...we did not feel that the work was suitable for the current "Publishing House" List."A nice way of saying we don't publish this genre. And in my ignorance I never picked up on it. It was years later in a group chat at an RWAustralia conference that this topic came up and the idea of doing your homework and finding out what publishing houses accepted what genres made me realise I'd made Error 1 in my submission process.

EXAMPLE 3 

Dear Author,

We regret that we are unable to consider your manuscript for publication. This is not a reflection on the quality of your proposal but rather on it suitability for our list. 

We wish you every success in placing your work elsewhere.

Editor X
Publishing House

Can you pick the error? Sound familiar? You got it - I hadn't done my homework and targeted the wrong publisher. Again. D'oh! As newbies sending stuff out into the big, wide world of the writing industry we need to accept that we're going to make some very Basic Mistakes to begin with. The best you can do is learn from them and move on.

EXAMPLE 4 

Dear Kylie,

Thank you for submitting sample material from your manuscript. After careful consideration I'm afraid I don't feel that we are the right agents to successfully represent your work, and I am returning your sample chapters and synopsis.

I'm sure that you can appreciate that an agent must be totally committed to a work to sell it enthusiastically to a publisher; to do otherwise is not in the best interests of the author.

Of course, another reader might have a completely different response, and I encourage you to send your work to other agents.

Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to read your work; I certainly wish you well with it and I'm sorry I was unable to be of assistance to you.

Yours sincerely,
Agent A

A lengthy standard rejection letter. No personal feedback, other than addressing it with my name. All the trademark standard phrases are contained within this letter - after careful consideration, you can appreciate that an agent must be totally committed, another reader might have a completely different response...

Believe it or not this is character building - it's testing your mettle in your journey to be published - spitting out the weak and hardening the determined. Keep going.

This series will continue in a fortnight (as I have a guest author scheduled next week) and we'll take a look at some semi-personal rejection letters.
 

Friday, January 15, 2010

CRAFT: Query Letters & Agent Hunting

At the end of 2009 my agent, Jenny, unfortunately had to close her agency due to the economic situation in the US - the recession has hit the publishing industry pretty hard. I've no doubt Jenny's decision was difficult as it meant not only the ending of many professional relationships with her clients but the closure ot her dreams of being an agent with her own agency. I wish her well in her future ventures, whatever they may be.
So, 2010 sees me on the hunt for a new agent. I've already started. I've surfed the 'net, looking at websites, updating my Top 10 agent wish-list, researching submission procedures and writing new query letters.
It's time consuming, sometimes monotonous but always a challenge. Writing that query letter just so, to hook the interest of an agent, is no easy thing. I spent the better part of today fine tuning individual QL's, checking formatting and spelling etc. and then emailing it off to my first chosen few.
What do I put in my QL's?
An introductory paragraph - ms title, word count, genre/target market. Sometimes this is also the paragraph I remind an agent they previously requested a full manuscript in an earlier submission (it doesn't hurt to remind them you've had former contact with them, they might even remember you!).
2nd paragraph - a description of the manuscript (I tend to write mine like the back cover blurb of a book).
3rd paragraph - the credentials of the manuscript being pitched (its contest placings, any publications etc.).
4th paragraph - a statement to the effect that I'm enclosing in the body* of the email what the individual agent required as a submission (eg. 3 chapters & a synopsis).
5th paragraph - a statement saying that I'd be more than happy to send them the full ms if the query interests them and that I'm looking forward to hearing from them.
Sign off with full contact details - name, address, phone number (including international area code) and email address.
*Most agencies filter out emails with attachments and unless the agent has specifically requested your work as an attachment, put it in the body of your email, after your query letter. Chapters or sample work first then synopsis.
Most agencies on my Top 10 list accept email queries and submissions. Some don't, so check carefully when researching information about your chosen agent or agency.
I also jot down, usually on my calendar when I sent a query, partial, full to an agent and when I'll follow up on the query (some agencies state when to check back with them after a certain period time) as well as who sent back a rejection, a rejections with feedback and so on.
Once I've done the rounds of sending out queries, I then sit back and wait, and continue writing the next book. It makes the time pass faster.
So, here's to a successful 2010 - Year of Hunting for a New Agent.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Believing in Yourself

Believe in yourself
and there will come a day
when others will have no choice
but to believe in you.

~ Cynthia Kersey

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Another Great Quote

"Ultimately, to be a successful author,
your desire to communicate has to be greater than your fear of rejection."
~ Janet Evanovich