L.C. Wright

Author

Category: Getting an Agent

The Art of Waiting

  If patience is a virtue, then I guess I’m not very virtuous.

I finished my first book about five years ago and thought I was something special. I mean really, how many people do you know personally that have written a full-length novel? Not very many I would suspect. It was an accomplishment I never expected and one I certainly didn’t expect to duplicate.

I was proud and not ashamed to admit it.

Then came the process of getting an agent. It seemed to take forever to finish the book. I had no idea how difficult that task would be. I sent query after query expecting someone to jump at my work. Naive, yes…but that’s just who I am. I’m a doer. I do things. I work and write and expect that by doing I’ll get results. That’s what doers do and how doers think.

What I couldn’t comprehend or appreciate was the waiting. I had to wait for the agents to respond. I had to wait for each letter to get back with the rejection that always came with it. Then I would send again and wait some more.

Now that I have an agent, guess what I have to do? Wait! I have to wait till her readers each read and finish my book. I have to wait for the next one to do the same. I have to wait for the editor to get started and have to wait for him to finish his work. And that’s where I am. Review the suggested changes and then wait some more.

But here’s what I’m learning about all this waiting. You can’t do anything about it. The book industry moves at a snails pace so you are going to wait. There’s nothing you can do about it.

The issue at hand is what do you do when you are waiting? The time can be a void or you can fill it with something productive. That’s what I suggest. Be productive. You can’t speed up the process, but you can have more for them to work on once they are finished with your first piece of work. Give them a reason to bump you to the head of the class once they are finished with the first project. Whatever you do, stay productive. Everyday, make sure you have something more available. In time you’ll complain that you don’t have enough time to keep up.

 

To check out or purchase a copy of my book, Castle Grey – A Katt and Mouse Mystery, click here (Kindle) or here (Paperback). Thanks for you support.

Changes to Get Noticed

  I heard a long time ago that the definition of insanity is, “doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting different results.”

I bring that up because that was my problem.  Because of twitter, I’ve been getting a lot of the same question: How did you get an agent? On the surface, the question seems benign–simple. However, there’s a lot to what I went through before that took place. I didn’t know what the heck I was doing and sure as heck didn’t have any pull with anyone, so I was literally starting from scratch.

The first thing I did was get some books on the subject. I not only didn’t know what I was doing, but I didn’t even understand the language. I didn’t know what a query was. I didn’t know what a synopsis was or how to construct one. Everything was new.

After writing a query, I started sending them out. I didn’t know if hard copy letters were better than e-mail so I did them both. What I discovered was that the biggest difference between the two was that e-mail query “no” simply came back faster than those from hard copy letters. No one was interested in my work. That shocked me. Duh!!!

I decided that I must be doing something wrong so I changed the content of the query and started over again. Same strategy. Same results. Dozens of returned letters and e-mails all with the same bottom line. No. No thanks. Hell no.

I did get one agent who had retired who requested the first 50 pages and wrote back to me after reading the work and using the entire contents of a red marker what I needed to do to possibly get better results. I was just stupid enough to get pissed off. Instead of heeding her advice, I threw it away.  Not the sharpest tack in the box.

I went through that same process several more times–same results–before finally giving up. I had run out of ideas. I had run out of patience. I had run out of gas. So I quit. Not permanently, mind you. I just needed a break.

One day I had an epiphany and decided that what I needed to do was find someone who actually succeeded at what I wanted to happen and started writing letters. Not to agents–to authors. I needed help and I wasn’t to proud to ask for it. I figured that they more than likely wouldn’t be inclined to help, but what the hell? I didn’t have anything to lose. Guess what? I got turned down there too. Many time as a matter of fact.

Then I got that ONE letter that made all the difference. Someone who took the time and made suggestions that mattered.

I made my changes. I sent out new queries. I got positive feedback. I got the agent. There was still a lot of work that needed done to make it acceptable. I needed someone to edit the work for me and hired a teacher that could make the changes necessary to make the work worthy of a proper review. But it worked. Will it work for you? I don’t know. Maybe I’m just stupid enough to not know that I couldn’t do it. Whatever. Maybe by stepping out of your comfort zone, you can get the help you need too.

It could happen.
Lannie

Dealing With Rejections

  I don’t know about you, but I hate getting rejected. Then I got married.

For now, however, I think it’s best if I focused on letters of rejections from agents. I’ve had my fair share. Over the last 5 years, close to 100 of them. Now…that could be because I was so persistent that I wore them down and someone finally just gave up and accepted me. (Guys might call that a mercy … fill in the blank) It could have happened because I got lucky and just happened to find an agent who was so bored because of a lack of things to do, that she agreed because she didn’t have anything better to do. Then, there could be another reason, one that might surprise you.

I learned what I was doing wrong.

I’m a pretty smart guy. I understand the concept of rejection. I used to tell people that “if someone doesn’t like me, they’re just a lousy judge of character.” It was said in jest, of course, but with a certain amount of truth. I’m pretty confident about myself (with just a touch of arrogance). But even I can figure out, with 80 rejections+, that I was doing something wrong. I read all the books. I even check out some of you bloggers, and still no agent.

I then did something different. I decided that the only way to get an agent was to emulate someone who actually did it. I found a successful author who was willing to share with me. What he told me, after I explained my situation, was that I wasn’t doing it right. He told me that agents are looking for authors (even new authors) because we are the lifeblood of the industry. They need us, but they won’t make it easy on us. We need to give them a reason to WANT to work with us. They need good work–correction, great work–from us. They need a reason to want to read our first 50 pages and synopsis.

Most of you have more experience and probably write better than I do. I can accept that. It doesn’t matter if you can’t get that across to an agent.

Personally, I wasn’t willing to compromise how I got my work to market. If you haven’t reached that agent who’s willing to give you a chance, then stay proud and buy someone else’s work off the shelves. Or… make a bold step and realize that maybe you too need to change something about your presentation.

I’m not doing this to put anyone down. I’ve screwed up more than any of you can imagine. I want this to be a reality check for anyone who wants the success of reaching the next level.

Writing a Query

       It is my intention to always be honest with those that take an interest in my writing. For the most part, the only thing I believe I am good at in the world of writing is my gift of telling a great story. You might say, “Well that all any good author is, a good story teller.” Wrong! If you want to get published. If you want an agent and publisher to take you serious, you have to be many things, things I’m not.

For example: I am terrible at spelling. In my early years I joked around and would say (paraphrasing Mark Twain) It’s a poor, unimaginative mind that can think of but one way to spell a word” In my other life (career) spelling wasn’t nearly as important as math so I slacked off in that area.

When I decided to write, I discovered my new best friend, the “spell checker”. Time after time I would make the same mistakes. I would change tense in the sentences. I would make so many mistakes, no one but my wife would want to read my work.

The query is your “first impression” to any agent you may want. There are rules to follow. Each agent has their own set of rules that you need to learn regarding your submission. The first thing you need to explore is how Agent A  submission requirements differ from Agent B. The information is not difficult to discover, but critical.

Now, you know the rules and you decide to submit. What’s next?

This is the fun part. I know how much fun it is because I had close to a hundred rejections before I got my first yes. I know the mistakes. I’ve made them. Please remember this, THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU. That’s not me trying to be cute. It’s the truth. You are not yet a client and they have way too much to do to worry about hurting your feelings. The odds are, you are going to get rejected. Get over it. The no’s don’t mean anything. Its the yes you want.

The story: When you do a query, tell your story in two paragraphs. They want to read something that sizzles. They want to see something that isn’t the same old crap they get day after day. Stand out and make what you write something they have to see more of.

Spelling/Grammar: Whatever you decide to say, say it right. Again…first impression. I have read horror stories from agents who get queries in manners that would make your skin crawl. They are looking for professionals. The want authors who know what it takes to succeed. Even if you don’t know what that means, fake it. They don’t know that you are writing in your underwear (or worse). They don’t need to know any of your bad habits or that you cuss like a drunken sailor. (Apologies to all drunken sailors reading this.) What they need to believe is that when they get your query, they see the Robert Redford or Betty Gable (really big name movie stars for you youngins) of the writing world.

Ego Check: Here’s the really hard part. Keep your ego’s in check. Okay, you tell a great story. You have excellent editing skills. You are the greatest thing since sliced bread. For some reason those stupid agents just don’t get what you are doing. I know how you feel. When you are good as I am, it’s hard to be humble. On the other hand, if they don’t like what you are sending them, as stupid as that may be, you need to get someone else’s opinion. Get the dang thing checked out by someone else. Someone that won’t kiss your butt by the way. If they can’t be honest, they are worthless. Find someone that will piss you off if you can find one. That person has to have mad skills in editing and integrity. If they don’t like something you’ve written, fix it, change it, get off you high horse and think about the fact that someone other than you might have a good idea too. Being different doesn’t mean being wrong. Their difference may just be the difference between getting rejected and getting to the next step.

If any of this helps, please let me know,
Lannie

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