Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Opening Doors

My writing group tries to stay up on what's happening in the publishing world. We attend as many free seminars as we can, listen to podcasts, share information via the web, and notify each other of anything we think might be useful. At least three of us would love to find an agent this year. That number could be four by June.

The other day, I was doing a bit of agent research. I wanted to find a person who might be the right fit for my YA novel. So far, I'd gotten nothing but rejections, but considering the agents are working off a letter, a single letter, I don't doubt myself. The novel itself is fine; it's the letter that needs work. I've been working on it, making it better, and also, making it different, trying to tailor it to each individual agent.

Anyway, I found this nice little article on how a certain author, Richard Ellis Preston, found his agent. I've never read anything he's written, but he's been in the business for many years. If you want to read the entire article, it can be found at this link

But his last paragraph is what caught my eye. He says:
Lessons Learned: cold queries and submissions can work, but the odds are insanely long and it’s a tough haul. I’ve witnessed the slush piles firsthand and wow, the amount of unsolicited stuff pouring in on a daily basis is mind-boggling. And it is a much bigger pile now than it used to be. Sure, go ahead and query and submit, but today I believe that you should spend more of your time, energy and money making contacts. You have to find somebody to open a door for you. Join a writing group and be engaged; somebody is bound to have success and they tend to carry their friends along with them. If you live far away from an urban center I would recommend you put your cash into a convention trip to Kansas City rather than a mountain of query letters; when you spend a lot to get there, it motivates you. Don’t be a wallflower. Grab an apple martini or a Shirley Temple and approach every agent, writer and publisher you can. Make a personal contact. Open a door.
So the mission is out there. My writing group and I need to dig deep and gather our courage together, find people, network, and open doors. I guess we have a new goal for 2014. At least we'll have a drink in hand.

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