I can just hear the gasps echoing throughout the writing community as the murmur or a witch hunt is organised.
I research a lot. I like research. Very lucky thing considering I’m a writer. And, like most writers, I have read much on the subject of writing. From all that advice, and I am talking tons of it, one main point consistently raised its ugly head….The advice was contradicting.
“Agents want first three chapters. Never send agents the first three chapters. Send to a publisher. Don’t send to a publisher.”
It’s enough to drive a writer even more insane than they already are. And yet, here I am; about to add yet another blog post and more advice onto a mound higher than the slush pile at Harper and Collins.
Hang on. Did I say advice? I don’t do advice. I merely try to enlighten. Phew! Untie the nooses - You can breathe again.
Finish Or Not To Finish?
“Start sending off your book as soon as you’ve finished the first few chapters. After all, what is the point in finishing it if no one wants it?”
Now this does seem like its common sense but I’ll say it (type it) anyway. You need to complete your novel before you submit. If an agent likes it and requests a full manuscript to read, he isn’t going to wait half a year while you finish it.
Check it and double check it. Let your friends read it and critique it. Polish it until it’s beaming brighter than the diamond tennis bracelet I’m begging my hubby for. Then, and only then, can you submit it.
Publisher Or Agent?
“Send you book to everyone and their friends. The more the merrier.”
It seems that, in today’s market, publishers are frequently turning to agents for submissions. The idea behind their madness being, why should they spend time and money sorting through manuscripts when an agent can do it for them?
Decide on an agent, and please find one that deals with your genre. Check out their website and most importantly, follow their submission guideline rules. Every agent is different. Some want a query letter, while others are happy to look at a synopsis too. Some, the wonderful few, will even read a couple of chapters.
One Agent Or Two?
“Send your book to as many agents as you can. Why wait for one to answer first?”
Oh, now this I am 50/50 on. Usually, this would be seen as a massive ‘no-no’. But nobody likes to wait six months for a reply before they can submit to their second choice agent. We’d all like to get a book represented during this lifetime
Who Goes There – Friend or Foe?
“I’ve sent this book to many other agents so, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll get in quick .”
Er, do you like prison food? No mild threats! Enough said.
“I’ve enclosed a picture of my dog, and a woolly scarf for those cold New York winters.”
This is a stranger! While grocery shopping in the frozen food aisle at Asda, would you go up to a person you’ve never met before and give them a present? Of course you wouldn’t. (And shame on you if you say ‘yes, but only if they were gorgeous’).
One mistake many new writers make is they address the agents like they are their friends. They’re not. There should be no first names, no information about the last holiday you took. Just as there shouldn’t be any mild attempt to scare your agent into representing you.
Now, I want you to tell me about the horror stories you’ve read, not including this one . What’s the worst advice you’ve been given? Again, this post is excluded . What’s the most cringe worthy mistake you’ve ever made while submitting to an agent? Do you agree with the above? Do you submit direct to a publisher?