“Pointers from the Pros” gives tips from authors and publishing industry professionals on everything from craft to querying to their experiences on the road to publication.
I spoke at the 30th annual Romance Writers of America conference in Orlando, Fla. Although I couldn’t go to all the faboo sessions being offered, I took a ton of notes at the classes I was lucky enough to attend—and I’m sharing some of those tips with my lovely blog readers. (<—Thanks for being so fabulous, BTW!)
The first afternoon of the conference, I attended the PRO Retreat, which was stockpiled with talks by awesome agents, editors, and authors. *ahem—Donald Maass much?*
Here is author Stephanie Feagan’s advice when it comes to querying and revising.
THE QUERY ITSELF
- Get feedback on it from writer friends.
- It doesn’t matter if you win awards. It’s nice, but if the agent doesn’t think she can sell your book, then it having won an award isn’t going to change that.
- She says to keep track of queries—who you’ve sent them to, what they’ve requested, responses, etc.
- It’s normal to not hear back from just a query, but it NOT normal not to hear back with partials and fulls.
WHERE TO START WHEN QUERYING
- Absolute Write Water Cooler
- This is the first place she went [the forums].
- It has agents listed, and people write down their experiences with them.
- You can get a feel for how agents work.
- Agents have their own accounts and can sign in and update it [in terms of submission guidelines and genre preferences].
- Agency Web sites
- Usually, the most up-to-date info for submissions is listed there.
- Verla Kay’s Blue Boards
- This is like Absolute Write Water Cooler
- Literary Rambles
- [Casey McCormick spotlights agents by compiling interviews/profiles done with them from all over the Web.]
- Publisher’s Marketplace
- [Weekly listings of what agents have sold.]
- [You must pay to use this site.]
- [A site where you can actually submit your query to an agent and track your experiences with requests/rejections.]
- [Or, you can just go in there and read the comments of others who’ve done this, to get a feel for agents response times, likes/dislikes, etc.]
- [Works like QT:] Put in query letter, and it sends it to the agent you want it to.
- They charge for it now.
- AAR [Association of Authors’ Representatives]
- It lists reputable agents and info about them.
- [*However, it should be noted that just because an agent is NOT a member of AAR does NOT mean he or she is NOT reputable.]
- It has a good list of questions to ask agents when you do get “the call,” [as well as many other helpful writer resources.]
- Don’t try the “throw-and-see-if-it-sticks approach” when querying.
- [Where you query agents without researching them and make little changes to your MS, based on whatever feedback you can get your hands on.]
- This is desperate.
- Don’t query multiple projects.
- Don’t keep tweaking your manuscript.
- If it’s ready to be out there, you should not keep revising.
- Also, she says it’s much better just to scrap it rewrite the whole thing—that’s what she did.
- This way, you don’t have to keep trying to shift around details to make it all “fit”—you’ve got a fresh palette.
Want more? Here’s a post I did on How and Where to Find Literary Agents.