It’s Christmas!

Merry Christmas

2015

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~Kay

An offer? Then what?

So…you’ve finished your masterpiece, written a query letter and synopsis and know where and how to find agents.

Research the agents you want to query and make a master list. Make a column for agent, agency, e-mail address, when you sent query, when you received reply, etc. I do my list in Excel. A very easy way to do this through Query Tracker.net. Details about QT are in my last post. I actually do the  QT one too, because it’s fun.

Now, you’ve sent out your queries (1 or 10 or 100…) and you wait. Finally you get an email that says the agent would like to see more (or maybe even the entire manuscript).  That’s great…don’t break anything (like your foot) while doing your happy dance.

Of course you can still get rejections after you’ve sent in partials or full, but nothing happens until you’ve submitted something so this is progress.

Let’s jump forward to the agent who LOVES your book. Some might call you but most send an e-mail and ask when would be a good time for a call to chat. USUALLY, this means she wants to offer representation.The temptation is to e-mail her back and say, “now,” Duh! But take a deep breath, composes yourself, review the information you have about the agent and make a list of questions you have for her.

Everyone’s experience is different, but I’ll share mine.

I made a list of my top agents and sent queries to the top ten. When I got a rejection or didn’t hear from someone in eight weeks (set your own time period), I moved them to another tab on the spreadsheet and sent a query to the next two on my list. That way I always had ten queries out at any time. Ten is an arbitrary number. It could be five or fifty, but whatever it is it need to be managed.

When I got the e-mail, I had a house full of sorority sisters for a get-together we do every other year. Not only did I do the happy dance, but so did they.

Then, the strangest thing…I got another e-mail (same day) asking if the manuscript was still available. I think she had a partial. (First agent had a full.) I told Agent 2 it was available, but I had a call scheduled with another agent the following week. Agent 2 said I want a call too.

So I thought, “Hummm…maybe I can leverage this.” I had a couple of partials out and maybe another full–I can’t remember. I e-mailed the other nine agents on my list. Two more asked for full and one asked for a call. After over a year of sending queries (not consistently, I will admit) I suddenly had three interviews set up and two others reading. One called and said since there was so much interest she was going to pass. I heard from the other one months later (long after the contracts were signed) asking for a call.

I thought mine was a unique story, but several authors said they had queried the same book for years, then when one agent asked for it and they informed other agents she’d be making a decision soon other agents jumped in. I shouldn’t have to say this, but I will: DO NOT sent a letter saying you have an offer if you don’t. It’s unethical. It’s tacky, and Karma is a bitch!

Good etiquette — when you accept an offer let everyone you’ve queried know so they won’t spend valuable time making a decision about your query.

Next post, I’ll help you know what to do until it’s time to talk to the agent.

~ Kay

How to find a Literary Agent

Did you  know only about 2% of writers have an agent? In this age of self-publishing is an agent even necessary? I’ll leave that discussion for another day. Today, I’m going to give some tips on finding a literary agent.

If an agent or publisher asks for money up-front, run. Run as fast as your Niki’s will take you. I’ve known too many people screwed by that. Hold out for a traditional publisher. It can be a small or regional publishing house, but don’t pay for publishing unless you are self-publishing. I don’t really know how self-publishing or publishing on demand work so I’m taking those two publication methods out of the mix.

You can go directly to some traditional publishing houses without an agent, but if they accept your work, an agent could helpful by negotiating your contract. If you don’t have an agent and an offer is extended directly from a publishing house, it could be prudent for you “to take a few days to look at your options” then quickly query your top five agents with “have offer for publication, need agent” in the subject line.

Because I write fiction these suggestions are more for writers of fictioninstead of non-fiction. The process IS a bit different.

  • You will also need a synopsis, maybe not immediately, but at some point. A synopsis covers the entire book, including the ending. Most people have a one page synopsis and a longer one, maybe three or four pages. Yes, it is difficult to condense a 90,000 word novel (or a 40,000 word one, for that matter)  into so few words, so make every word count. Let your voice come through. For different methods on writing a synopsis, google “how to write a synopsis.” There are a lot tips there, plus I’ll offer another choice later on.
  • Query letter? You need to have a query letter. If you don’t know how to write a query letter go how to write a query for guidance. Note I said, “for guidance.” Each agent or agency may have a special format specific to them so always check their websites to see what they want.
  • Know the genre of your book. Always include genre, title and word count in the query letter.
  • Your manuscript should be finished, edited, polished and ready to go.
  • Conferences – If you can attend conferences or other places where agents might be, go. The worst that could happen is you’ve made an investment to learn something about your craft; the best, you land an agent. Prior to attending see which agents are going to be there and see who would be a good fit for you. If you write children’s books there really is no need to stalk seek out one who handles romance or true crime genres. After you’ve ranked your agents sign up for pitch sessions, if the conference has them. Also try to have some “away from conference” time with them–like over a drink at the bar.  Do not try to talk to an agent about your manuscript in the bathroom. Everyone deserves a few minutes of privacy.
  • Referral – If you know someone who has an agent or who is an agent, ask who they think would be a good match for your work. (Don’t ask a friend to represent you. If he/she offers, that’s one thing, but don’t ask because it will change your relationship.) If you are really bold ask contacts in the business to send an e-mail of introduction to any agents they might know who are on your agent wish list.
  • A great source to find agents is query tracker.net. It is a free site run by Patrick McDonald (who is super nice and responsive). The free site is amazing, but I encourage you to invest in the annual fee of $25 for a premium membership. Unlike a lot of sites they let you know a month in advance of billing you for the next year so you can opt out. Some of the benefits of the site:
    • Lists agents in several formats including genre
    • Shows which ones are accepting queries
    • Can query directly from site
    • Can keep detailed spreadsheet of agents queried (when queried, when, how responded, etc) — They had met when I saw the spreadsheet!
    • It has a message center, blog and forum
    • Can search agents by genre, gender, section of country…
    • Can do reports (based data from this database which should be pretty representative of the general population. Some of the reports include; an average of how long it take an agent to respond if it is a pass, partial, full, etc.
    • Can be set up to give you a reminder when you (preset) think it is time to nudge or close a query.
    • It lets you “watch” agents who are closed to queries and notifies you when they open
    • It notifies you about new agents, changes going on with agents (switching publisher, new last name, etc.) This is done by e-mail. This is how I got my first agent. QT sent a notification of a new agent and I queried, thinking she would be trying to build her client base, It worked. Unfortunately, she left the industry, but someone else in her agency picked me up.
    • I think you get the idea – I’m a big QT fan.
  • Another outstanding tool (also free) is AgentQuery.com. They boast the largest database of agents. You can filter agents by genre, who is accepting queries, etc. They also have a lot of ads like “placing you with a publisher.” Be careful with that, especially if they ask for money. The reason I’m really high on AgentQuery.com is not so much for finding an agent but for it’s useful resources. They have six categories of “help” at the top of their page, easy to find, easy to access.; they even have one for agents. I’m going to give examples of three places on this website you can go to learn “how to” do things.
    • Writers
      • About Literary Agents
      • Submitting to Agents
      • How to Write A query
      • Beware of Scammers
      • When Agents Offer
    • Resources
      • Websites for Writers
      • Track Agents’ deals
      • Agent and Editors Blogs
      • AAR Membership
      • Grants & Foundations (for nonfiction)
    • Networking
      • Network on AQ Connect
      • Conferences & Seminars
      • Follow Agents on Twitter
      • Residencies/Colonies
      • Literary Organizations
  • Perhaps my favorite online site is agentqueryconnect.com. OMG, the things you can do with this site. It is an online social networking community.I actually was in a critique group I found here for about a year, and they were awesome. This is not just a newby site. There are a lot of distinguished authors willing to pay it forward. Some of the features and benefits of AQC are:
    • Other writers will help with fact-checking for fiction
    • Experienced writers will review Queries and Synopsis, and even hooks so you can get feedback before querying.
    • They have open and closed forums. Some of them are:
      • Agents & Editors on Twitter (open)
      • Query Questions & Conversations (open)
      • Agent Submission Process (Hum….sort of what this blog is about.) (open)
      • Ins and Outs of Representation
      • Conferences, Contests, and Calls for submissions
      • Self-publishing
      • Forums for different genres like Mystery, Thriller/Suspense and Crime, Paranormal and Supernatural, Romance Writers, Writing for Children and Tweens
      • Lots more, but until you get published you probably don’t need.
  • FYI, Agents lurk around all of these sites, so careful with the posts unless it is in a private forum and even then I strongly recommend not using these sites for forums (or blog) as a place to vent. Agents will see them. They might even forward them on to other agents including the one getting slammed. So be careful. It goes back to the old adage my mother used to preach, “Don’t say something behind someone’s back you would say to her face.” Over the years, it has served me well.
  • In conclusion, (bet you thought we’d never get here) check out agents and agencies before you query them no matter where you found them. It only takes a minute. It’s pretty embarrassing to be offered a contract, then find out the agent has a bad reputation or the agency’s clients aren’t happy how they do business.
    • How do you do that? There’s cumbersome but helpful website calledPredators & Editors that lists every agent and agency. Unfortunately, they never remove grievances. For example, an agent might have done some unsavory thing when starting our in 1994 when just starting out but saw the error of his ways and is now a top agent. Therefore, don’t let this be your only way of vetting agents. Google them. If you are on QueryTracker, check out what people are saying about him or her. There are some books with lists of literary agents, but I would buy one. By them time the book is published, the information could have changed.

CAUTION: some of these websites are pretty enticing and you could spend your whole day exploring, chatting, etc. Be mindful of your writing time and limit it on these sites.

Does anyone have any other methods for finding an agent? My next blog will be what to do when you get an offer.

~ Kay

 

 

 

 

 

Cold begone!

I hate to bitch and gripe, but I’ve had a cold for seven, yes seven, weeks!

October 19 — A couple of days after attending two performances a children’s play where there was a cast of about seventy with an audience filled with siblings, I felt tired and had a scratchy throat. I didn’t go out with some girlfriends “just in case” I was coming down with something.

I went to yoga Tuesday Morning, and that’s when the coughing began. I came home, showered and went to bed for an all-day nap.

Wednesday I tried to get an appointment with my family doc, but he only works ½ a day on Wednesday and was booked solid. Killer Nashville was coming up that weekend and I wanted to get a jump start on anything I might be getting so I went to the Kroger clinic and saw the practitioner there. She gave me a steroid dose pack, something for cough, and something else — I can’t remember.

I participated in three panels at KN and hubby did a seminar on using drugs and alcohol in writing murder mysteries. Luckily, I’d decided we’d stay at the (expensive) convention hotel and my panels were spread out over the three days of the convention. Most of the time I wasn’t participating in a panel I was in the room sleeping.

The next week I had a routine appointment with another doctor and she said everyone in her office had had this and to expect it to last about four weeks. Not what I wanted to hear, but I’m an over achiever. I was sure I could knock it out quicker than that!

At that point the worst symptom was a cough and hoarseness. I had hydrocodone in my migraine rescue packet and hubby suggested I take it to suppress the cough so I (really so he) could sleep. Hydrocodone knocks me out and it takes very little to do so. I halved the tablets and got some rest.

The next week I got a sore throat and horrible ear ache. I went to see the nurse practitioner at my doc’s office. She did blood work and a chest x-ray. I just had a cold. She gave me a stronger, broad spectrum antibiotic (in case it wasn’t viral), and some knock me on my butt cough medicine.

My throat and ears got better but I had no energy and SOB (shortness of breath). I went in for a pulmonary function test and they said it was like I was only using one lung to breathe. I got a breathing treatment, which helped.

As you can see, I had symptoms de jour — the only constants have been cough and tiredness.

Then, on Monday, Nov. 30, nausea woke me. That’s very unusual for me. When I sat up in bed the room was spinning and I didn’t know up from down, left from right. Luckily, Hubby hadn’t left for work yet and stayed with me until someone could relieve him to go to work. I mostly slept, but literally could not walk without assistance. For about four days, I bounced from one piece of furniture to another to keep from falling (and have the bruises to prove it). If I had to go up or down the stairs, I did it on my bottom.

Hubby said he thought it was post viral labyrinthitis which was good news because it meant I was at the end of my cold. This was the beginning of week six, if you are counting, which you probably aren’t. Then, I had a bad night (kept him awake) and he got on the Internet. He decided we could do the head exercises for positional vertigo. It wouldn’t hurt anything and might help. So, he cupped my head in my hands and turned it all the way to the right. I puked. He did it again and I could feel my eyes spinning. Then they stopped. He said he could see when they stopped. When he turned my head to the left, my eyes were jumping vertically. They never stopped.

We went BACK to the doctor (they would know my voice if I didn’t have laryngitis) and he agreed with Hubby’s first assessment of post viral labyrinthitis. He said because I’d had such a bad cold it could last a while — up to six weeks. I have grand babies coming for Christmas. I’ve got to be able to function!

Now, I’m pretty good with balance except when I bend over, stand up, lay down or get out of bed. When I go to bed it spins for about five minutes. I tried a patch like one would use for sea sickness, but it didn’t help. I don’t get sea sick, so I’m not surprised.

So, I’m in week seven and I guess it has won.  I’m waiting it out. When I’m tired I sleep (mostly). I’ve had to decline several parties because I don’t have the energy to go. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed it will go away in time for me to finish Christmas shopping (thank goodness for online) and enjoy the holidays with my family.

I know no-one likes to hear others complain about their ills, but I’m hoping if I let it out maybe it will go away. Hey, I’ll try anything.

Stay well…

~ Kay

 

 

 

Stars are born

Recently Hubby and I flew to Jacksonville, FL to visit our godson, Xander, his two brothers, his two sisters, and his parents. His mom is pregnant with a daughter who will be named Maelyn Audrey (Audrey is my first name, but that’s a story for a different day.)

Xander is the 2nd from the youngest. The girls are adopted, and the younger one is a couple of months younger than him. They are nine. The oldest of the clan just turned sixteen. Their dad is in the Navy (submarine duty). A new baby will be quite the adjustment for this family.

If you’re new to my blog you might not be familiar with Xander. He’s our miracle kid. He was born with severe spina bifida, has had so many surgeries we’ve quit counting (over 35), and is so much fun we love every minute with him (and his family). We are constantly amazed at how his parents have been such strong advocates for his medical needs and still provide each of the other kids with quality attention. They’ve been in orchestra, played football, cheerleading, tumbling–I don’t know what all–and now ALL of them were in the Wizard of Oz. We had to go.

It was a quick trip–two nights–and we saw two performances. As a bonus, I got to see the children’s grandparents (my cousin and his wife) and the children’s ninety year old great grandmother (my aunt). Xander’s mom is my first cousin, once removed. If you aren’t sure what that means, check my post from earlier this week.

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~ Kay

Happy birthday to the world’s best sister

I only have one biological sister. (I have a bunch of sorority sisters, but for purposes of this post, I’m excluding them.)

Today is my sister’s birthday.

She lives across the country from me in Seattle, and I miss her very much. I only see her once, maybe twice a year. Even though it’s been a long, long time since we were children, I’ll always consider this amazingly accomplished woman my “little” sister. I’m so proud of her.

Happy birthday, Sissy!

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~Kay