That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. It’s that time. The time has come.
Starting today, I will be live-blogging the exciting and much puked-about thing known as the Querying Process. You’re welcome.
Today, I started reading a great book called Query: Everything you need to get started, get noticed and get signed, by C.J. Redwine. So far, I am LOVING the quippy humor, dry honesty and very down-to-earth advice CJ dishes out. Here are a few of my favorite little tidbits:
1. “You need to research agents who fit what you want to do with your career, not just the ones that fit the book you’re about to send out.” Very strong advice. And pertinent, since I might have otherwise fallen into the trap of only querying agents who had already published something of a similar style or audience as my MS. But now, I’m more interested in finding one who took a writer like me–one who is currently obscure, yet destined for greatness–and made them into a literary superstar with sheer will and panache.
2. “So, do you have a finished, polished manuscript, a thick skin, a career plan, and a professional web presence?” Check, check-ish, check (thanks to previous PR job), check (as of 2:00am last night, though I’m not sure how realistic my goal of achieving rock star status by 2015 is…) and ch—eh, what now? What the deuce is a professional web presence?
According to CJ, this means, “Clean up your blog, Twitter, and other web presences to make sure you’re completely professional. You can still be fun and interesting! But you can’t be vicious, whiny, or bitter without making an agent or editor think twice about asking for your pages.” Oh. Okay… So for the most part that’s cool. But um, do I actually have to tell them I have a Twitter account? Just curious, no reason.
3. Advice on finding the “Right One”:
a. “An Agent should be able to list specific books he or she has recently sold. Be wary of agents who refer to sales, but have no hard data to back that up.”
b. Look for membership in AAR (the Association of Author’s Representatives) because they have to adhere to a strict code of ethics.
c. AVOID agents who only accept “exclusive” queries. “Most agents expect you to be sending out simultaneous queries. It’s certainly in your best interest to do so, especially considering the lengthy response time many agents have.” Excellent! No use getting myself stuck in a monogamous agent relationship before I’m ready. Best case, I’d always wonder whether or not there would’ve been someone better for me who was still out there, and worst case I could be the victim of an abusive literary relationship. No one wants that, because in those types of relationships, the book is always the one who suffers the most.
d. NEVER go with someone who offers to read or edit your book for a small fee. “A reputable agent will work with you to whip your manuscript into shape after you’ve signed a contract, without asking for a dime.” You should also avoid agents with grammatical or spelling errors on their website, or those who make extravagant promises about getting you a deal within a set period of time. I can almost see it now: Published in Two Weeks or your Money Back!!! Thanks, but no.
Sufficed to say, I’ve learned a lot so far. Some of it has caused me anxiety, but for the most part I remain energized and hopeful for the adventure upon which I’m about to embark.
In the words of Zooey Deschanel, “brace yourself, you’re about to get laid, WORLD!”