So you’re thinking of submitting to an agent? I think you might be considering it, since you’ve come in here. Let me start by asking, are you sure? Writing is tough business, people can be mean, some will say you “suck” even after you hit the New York Times Bestsellers List. It’s the nature of the beast. But if you are prepared for REJECTION…then please proceed.
First off, there are a few things every aspiring author needs to realize, at the top of the list is: Rejection. I’m convinced there’s no way around it. There is not an author yet (that I’ve heard of) who hasn’t felt the sting of “no” or “please change this”. Good and bad, it’s how the industry works. Whether it come in the form of critique partners, agent/publisher rejection letters, or from an editor after you’ve landed an agent or publisher. So when I stress the importance of having thick skin, I mean it…if you don’t come by this naturally, I suggest you focus your brain power on growing some. Unless of course this approach makes you look leathery, in which case have a good friend pre-read all incoming e-mails and sugar coat them.
Now lets say you’ve acquired your new skin or a really good friend, and you’re ready to move forward.
The next step is having a COMPLETE manuscript. Notice which of those two words is in CAPS. So what does this word complete mean? Well it means, drum roll please…….finished. Finished as is done. Not half a story. Or the first 2 chapters, althought that’s a good start. It means you no longer have to spend days typing out pages, it means the characters are fleshed out, the world has been built, the story is told and there’s nothing more to add. (Unless its a series OR an editor says so). If you’re certain your manuscript is COMPLETE please continue reading because…
You’ll want to clean it up. That’s right, I said the horrible, ugly words. Clean up means EDIT. Just because you’ve finished writing the book doesn’t mean it’s ready to see the light of day. Reread your story. I find I’m not the most subjective at this point in the game, so this is where a great critique group, or critique partner can come in handy. My edits are handled in two critique groups one for my adult works and YA Fiction Fanatics for any of my young adult work. (This is not the only way to edit mind you, but for me it’s the most helpful).
After you’re certain you’ve completed and edited your manuscript it’s time for the real work to begin. You’ll want to compile your list of agents and study them. (links to help you find them are below) Be sure the agents you submit to are a good fit for what you write. A sure fire ride to Rejection City is to sub to an agent who doesn’t represent your genre. So be sure and know the agent (visit their website or if they have a blog drop in). Most importantly, KNOW THEIR SUBMISSION GUIDELINES. Each agent is different. Some want chapters with a synopsis and blurb(aka brief description of your story). Others don’t want anything but a short query letter.
Once you’ve done your HOMEWORK on agents, and have everything prepared per their specific guidelines, check and double check everything is filled in correctly, properly attached, and as close to perfect as you can get it. Then. Hit. Send.
Now, you put on that thick skin I mentioned and WAIT and Wait and wait.
If you’ve made it this far into the post, I want to say from one writer to another, I wish you the best of luck. It takes hard work and is quite a journey to get to this point, CONGRATULATIONS!