Last week, I got the fabulous news that I’ll be presenting at the 30th annual Romance Writers of America national conference in Orlando, Fla.
In my workshop, “Sweat the Small Stuff: Getting Your Work Read & Represented,” we will polish and perfect the all-too-often overlooked details in query letters and manuscripts—proper grammar and formatting—in order to get the attention of agents and editors and have a better chance of getting work read and represented.
Millions of writers think they have written “the great American novel” and, regardless of how they submit it, some literary agent will fall in love with the story, sign them, and an editor will clean up their grammatical and formatting messes. However, in today’s economy, agents and publishing houses cannot afford to take chances, so new writers are under pressure not only to have a top-notch story, but also to submit it in pristine condition.
Although submission guidelines differ from agency to agency, certain grammatical and formatting standards run industry wide, and, besides good writing, producing clean, properly-formatted copy is a quick and easy way serious writers can set their work apart from the amateurs in the slush pile.
THE GAME PLAN
This session will teach the basics of grammar and Chicago Style manuscript formatting by analyzing examples not only brought in by me, but from those in the class as well. Attendees will either submit ahead of time or bring in transparencies (that decision is up to RWA) of their query letters and/or the first two pages of their manuscript. We will dissect, tighten and clean up the mistakes in a sort of a slush session, right before their eyes.
I will reinforce that, if you give agents a break, you’ll be giving yourself a break—you’ll avoid silly mistakes that will result in rejection before an agent has even read sentence one. Students will learn how to set themselves apart with clean copy and give their work a fighting chance.