Thursday, October 22, 2015

Nabbing and Keeping an Agent


CHECK OUT THIS ARTICLE:

http://helenafairfax.com/2015/10/17/some-surprising-tips-on-pitchin...

I like this article and I've got just about every one of those suggestions covered. It's pretty standard fair. I'm weak in a few areas. 

I just found out about a year ago that series DO really sell. I didn't think it was necessary, or popular and I didn't believe in such nonsense. Five months ago I went kicking and screaming on a writing rampage because my agent suggested I take the YA Screamcatcher book and make it into a trilogy. Actually it had crossed my mind. I'd never done it before. The results: I'm 3,000 words away from the end of the third book. I couldn't be happier. You really HAVE to love your characters enough to see them through to this length. You have to perform a little bit of sewing to tie the books together. But...alas! You can use a little magic and make them standalones at the same time!

I disagree about three agent queries a month--if that what the poster was actually suggesting. It will be years to find an agent with such a tepid sub outlay. Do you normally quit around 100 or 135 agents? You should. That is a normal and satisfactory expenditure of agent submissions. I know no one who subs that little (three a month) to agents. And did they really say wait one month and move on? Oh fiddle-e-dee--give me a major break. You might not hear from an agent for three or four months or even longer. Yeah, right, cross them off your list. 

I'm at the different end of the spectrum; I use Guerrilla tactics but I don't recommend you do this: I subbed to 440 agents in sight of three weeks--a full-on blow out. I kid you not, there are that many thriller agents out there. I left hard mail subs off my list. Within five months I had four offers. I took the best quality A-list agent from the stack. Finito. Done. Finished. Over. It was that fast and that effective. Of course, you BETTER have a bullet proof query/synopses with a mind-bending premise and irresistible hook. Give it a tag line right up front like you would a movie script and be rewarded extra points for that. Tag line? Look it up.

Where in the land of Goshin is your bio and credit history? Are you supposed to leave that out if you have nothing? Let me show you how to make something out of nothing and you tell me you can't do the same thing.

PUBLISHING CREDITS:
BOOKS:
Auto Repair Shams and Scams (Forward--Ralph Nader), 1990, Price Stern & Sloan, Los Angeles--226 pages, non-fiction, consumer warning and repair book.
Garage Sale Mania, 1988, Betterway Publications, Crozet, Virginia--190 pages, non-fiction—1988.
Word Wars, a SF novel, to Rain Publishing, Canada—May, 2007.
Once Upon a Goddess, a Fantasy novel, to Rain Publishing, Canada—January, 2008
Planet Janitor—Custodian of the Stars, a SF novel sold to Engage Books, May 2009
Gate Walker, a Paranormal Fantasy, sold Lyrical Press—January, 2009.
The Wolfen Strain, a fantasy thriller sold to LBF (Lachesis) Books, February 2009
The War Gate, a Paranormal thriller, to Pen and Press, 10-12-2012
The Girl They Sold to the Moon, a YA dystopian sold to Intrigue Press, August 2013

MAGAZINE—SHORT FICTION:
Stellar by Starlight, to Amazing Stories, 1988.
The Lonely Astronaut, to Amazing Stories, 1988.
Temperamental Circuits, to Gordon Linzner of Space & Time, 1989.
Things that go Clump in the Night, to Richard Fawcett of Doppelganger, 1989.
Dance the Macabre and Dance it Well, to Erskine Carter of Ouroborous, 1989.
Future School, to Chris Bartholomew of Static Movement, January 2006.
The Incredible Mr. Dandy, to Not One of Us--1989
Planet Janitor The Moon is not Enough, to Enage Books, 2012
Planet Janitor Journey Interrupted, to Engage Books 2012
Other magazine appearances from 1988 to 1991 include, Alpha Adventures, Small Press Writers and Artists Organization and Sycophant.

RADIO PLAYS:
The Summit, 15-minute horror play to Night Sounds, Embassy Cassette Inc, Santa Ana, California—1990
Night of the Moa, 13-minute horror play to Night Sounds, Embassy Cassette Inc, Santa Ana, California—1990.

AWARDS:
Finalist in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest, for Temperamental Circuits, 1987.
First place, grand prize winner for The Girl They Sold to the Moon, a YA distopian novel, to a Publisher's Novel Writing Competition. Advance and publication offered—June 2012.

JOURNALISM AND MAGAZINE ARTICLES
350 newspaper profiles, stories, and interviews to Sunset Publishing, Anaheim, California, appearing in The West Coast Jewish News, The Senior Citizens Reporter and The Military Review. From 1988 to 1991. Seven automotive and home and garden articles articles to Dollar Stretcher Magazine, from 12-2-2011 to 2-28-2012. Eight science articles to Xiauduo Media, for Chinese translation( 8 -14 year-old audience)—Astronomy, new transportation technology, space, exoplanets, future spaced ship drives, big bang, theory and inflation.

CONTENT AND CLIENT
I have written and published over 1,750 non-fiction automotive, aircraft, marine, home and garden and science articles for Demand Media Studios, under the Beta-Automotive and E-How stations. Six automotive articles to Examiner.com—6-2012. Published. 440 automotive and general articles to TextBroker—plumbing, gardening, home improvement, home utilities, electricity--Content writing for a total of three years.

ORGANIZATIONS/POSITIONS:
Served as content editor of Sunset Publication (see above) for three years. Responsible for all writing assignments content editing, filler and artwork and payment.
President and founder of Heartland Writers Group, Huntington Beach, California, from 1987 to 1991.

AGENTS:
Past agent--Richard Curtis Associates, from 1988 to 1991.
Past agent—TriadaUS (Dr. Uwe Stender), from 2006 to August 2009
Present agent—Sara Camilli Agency--2010 to present. 

CURRENT FINISHED BOOKS (AVAILABLE):
Iron Girl, a military espionage thriller.
Valley of the Mastodons, a non-fiction book involving the Ice Age megafauna discoveries in Hemet, California, during the Diamond Valley reservoir dig. Proposal, chapter outline, and 100 pages available upon request
Dispossessed Incorporated, an urban ghost fantasy with time travel
The Omega Wars—SF, apocalyptic alien invasion (Sequel to PJ)
Screamcatcher, A YA portal fantasy out on agent sub round. Resembles the Narnia world.

Do you see any category in there that would include your history or even general writing interests? You SCRATCH deep for anything you have that is writing related. No one has nothing. That's impossible. BTW--your bio is a tiny one-paragraph of your personal life--your name, location, work history, degrees, if you love hamsters and such things. I'm sterile. I don't include a bio--with me it's all business.

It's perfectly acceptable to contact your agent about every 30 to 40 days. You're not being intrusive with that frequency. Once you hook up with an agent, you can usually call and discuss things over the phone, UNLESS, your agent prefers email. And here's a controversial tip you'll seldom hear: ask your agent what's hot and are any publishers looking for something specific. Publishers ask agents this all the time. The agent will evaluate one of his/her writers and ask them if they would like to take a leap of faith. I've been assigned twice. If you have the chops to write in most genres, and your agent singles you out for a stylistic fit, you just might give it a go. Talk about putting your finger to the pulse--this one takes balls/ovaries.  

Getting an agent is not as difficult as keeping one. That means you write your ass off and have a new book ready to go after your agent has exhausted all attempts at selling your first one via one, two or three rounds. My agent took my entire inventory. I was lucky she'd sold and dealt with the multiple genres I write in. If you time it right, you'll have a book making the rounds all year long, year after year.



REPEAT: You don't want a one-book agent. You don't want a cheap date. You want a marriage ceremony. 


I really don't think the Twitter calls are a waste of time. I know too many authors who participate in them and many get picked up or get solid feedback. Those hash tag ones, you know?


Now, wait just a minute about new agents who are intent on building a stable but have NO fiction credits or very little. I'm sorry--agents who have been in the industry for eight years plus and live in NYC or near by are on a friendship-face-to-face basis with dozens of A-list publishers and routinely use the phone (or dinner) to intro a book and get FULL manuscripts read. This also includes big agencies that live in other states. Check their sales history, staff, genres covered and best-seller status and frequency (if any). Go for the gusto first. Then work your way down. My list is A-List, B-List and C-List agents.

Don't send agents gifts out of the blue.

Gobble up any critique suggestions you get and use the rule of 3. If three or more agents discuss the same problem you have in the manuscript, take it to heart. They've probably got you nailed to the garage wall. This goes for major R&R, grammar, syntax, POV, show not tell, passive, plot, theme, execution, adverbs/adjectives and any other nasty little trouble makers.

You better keep a spreadsheet/database of all your agent submissions including query, partial or full and the date of all contacts with them.

Do not protest a rejection. Read it and file it away. You can get a form rejection, a form rejection with notes, a critique letter and even, dear God Almighty, a red-lined manuscript WITHOUT representation.

Do not refer your friends for representation to your agency even though you might have that power as an agented author. I get asked that one a lot.

I could go on and on...but I have to stop. I'll have some more guerrilla tactics on this subject later.


 Keep writing and reading and submit till hell won't have it.

2 comments:

  1. I think I'll have another variation on this article very soon. It has to do with A list agents.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I really enjoyed this, C! Couldn't agree with it more. All of this is spot on.

    ReplyDelete