Tag Archives: queries

Great Agent Hunt – After Yes

27 Nov

What am I going to do with all this time once I can stop looking for an agent?

How many times have you or one of  your friends said that? A kazillion? Yeah. Probably. Trust me, I know the feeling.

Think of all the writing I’ll get done! I’ll finally do some really great deep cleaning and catch up on housework! I’ll join a gym! I’ll SAVE THE WORLD! Yeah, that’s what I’ll do! I’ll Save! The! World!

So, you may have noticed, the world (in general) is still in peril.

One thing I noticed thru the entire process is the understanding of the Before Agent and Post Agent friends. I’d always fallen firmly in the BA w/slight sympathy…but, yeah, there’s a divide.

BA looks like this: What do you mean your stressed making this decision? You’re picking from amazing agents who want to represent your work! It’s great! There’s no stress here!

PA looks like this: Don’t worry. They will get back to you. Yeah, it’s a big decision.  Just start the process as the emails come in. But, as long as you did your research, talked to people, spoke  with each agent and feel confident in the ones you narrowed it down to, it will be hard to make a *wrong* choice. There’s *BEST* choice though, so make sure you do all the steps. It will be fine.

Then the decision happens:

BA: Now you’re a represented author. It’s all cake from here.

PA: Now you’re a represented author. It’s your gig to lose my friend. Nose to the grindstone. This is not the relationship to slack on. Do not forget, this is a business relationship so you have to focus. Yeah, you can be friends with people at work, but don’t forget this is your career.

Then the revisions happen:

BA: This is great, someone to tell you exactly what you need to do! You’re so in!

PA: Ok, so you’ve got general feedback, now you have to make it your own. How the heck are you going to do this? Yup, it’s time to read that manuscript start to end *again* Now get to work. PANIC PANIC PANIC…ok, stop panicking. The worst thing that happens on this first time out of the gate is failure to give her what she wants. FAILURE? I DON’T DO FAILURE? WHAT THE HECK IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN? Well, you’ll work this the way you work everything. Do it, check it, re-do it, have someone you trust look at it, re-do it and hand it in.

So, if you’re making these decisions and are really struggling with your friends not getting it, don’t worry. You aren’t alone. We didn’t get it when we were BA no matter how supportive we tried to be. It’s a path, and you can only see the path from where you are on it.

And, that’s as far on the PA path that I am. I can say, I’ve had a really stressful couple weeks (life-wise) since signing and it’s definitely effecting my work in a negative way. I”m pulling out all the stops trying to work around that stress because, like our PA said above, this is work. This is the career I want. And that means learning new ways to do old things…It means that in every job. It means that no matter what life is throwing at me (and it really feels like it’s throwing a lot now) you push forward. But mostly it means that I need to learn to keep my writing attitude up-beat and focused. And that is something that as a PA I have to do, because it’s no longer a Oh, I can do this someday. It’s a I should do this now.

You can also check out GETTING TO YES Part 1 and GETTING TO YES Part 2 segments.

Great Agent Hunt – Getting to Yes (part 2)

23 Nov

So, if you’re just joining us, last week I announced my signing with my agent, posted how I researched, organized and sorted agents during the search process, and discussed what I learned from the first half of the query process. At the end of the last post, I promised to discuss more of what I learned since I am (apparently) becoming blogwinded.

Fast forward to the first offer. I got the first off on a Friday (all of my friends have gotten Friday calls to. We’re really curious why this is.)

I was out and about and missed her email. When I emailed her back she asked if she could call…in ten minutes. Honestly, I loved this as it cut down the panic time! The downside was that my computer was in the shop and had the list of “What to ask potential agents” on it. So I felt like I was flying blind. Agent 1 was amazingly nice about this and actually suggested questions I may have forgotten to ask because I didn’t have my list. She was friendly, professional, excited and kind. I loved her and would highly recommend her to anyone. I did wonder about some of the suggestions we discussed and she was kind enough to send me written notes. I spent a lot of time looking at these and thinking over how I could attack them. A few I knew I couldn’t do. I knew I could go back and discuss them with her, she’d been very open with me and that wasn’t a fear.

After a stressed out call with poor Gwen Hayes (because I’m a worrier, and worrying always comes first) I realized that (unlike last time) no matter what, I would have an agent at the end of this process. it was an amazing feeling.

 

So, when we got off the phone, I looked at my list of who had partials and fulls out. I had sent out queries to my top 20 agent’s on my Top Match list and had more requests than I expected. Looking at the list, I sent an email to each agent I knew I’d be super interested in (which since that was my top 20 was all of them. Yeah, not much for cutting the list down that way) saying that I’d been offered a contract and wanted to know if they would like the opportunity to read the full and potentially discuss my manuscript.

Everyone said yes.

Some passed for various reasons: Not as intrigued as they expected, Already had someone with a similar voice, Didn’t know what to do with it.

Some waited until the last minute to email me back because they were busy. I understand, but one thing I definitely did was include a deadline (making it very clear) and stick to it. This is a business and you don’t want to mess with the people you’re already working with.

Two asked to read it and then got back to me a week after the deadline asking to offer. I let them know it was no longer on the table. One apologized. One was annoyed.

But several wanted to offer for it. And so the phone calls began. . . Oh, and one really great get together. 

I can say that speaking with Agent 1 was easy, straightforward, fun and informative. But, it was that for most of the people I spoke with. I felt very much like we were on the same page. That the things she mentioned were either a “doh!” moment or a “yeah, I can see how that would be better. Now I just have to figure out how the heck to do it.”  There was a lot to the phone call that made my decision clear.

But it was still a difficult decision because I could see that there was no *wrong* decision. Everyone I talked to was great. It was amazingly encouraging to discuss my work and publishing with such an intelligent, driven yet nice group of women. It reinforced to me that I was being blessed by the whole process!

After making my decision and hoping she hadn’t realized she’d read and loved someone else’s book (I mentioned I worry, right?) I spoke with Agent 1 again, solidified revision thoughts, discussed the contract and we were a go! Then the second worst part happened (beyond the worrying) — letting people I really respected know I was passing on their generous offers. It was hard. It felt personal after talking with them and it so wasn’t. I think every author who has to send those emails gets a small taste of what agents who meet and do some preliminary work with writers, and then in the long run pass, feel. Yuck.

Next step: Send quick notes to the 7 people who still had the query only letting them know that I had accepted an offer. Make sure you put something that lets them know you’re pulling your submission in the subject line so you don’t waste their time. Also, 2 of those agents thanked me for stating the date they would have received my query so they could find it quickly — they said that was a time-saver.

Two of those agents responded with the fact that they were disappointed because they were just about to request. Seriously, I could not believe this process.

So, what did I learn beyond the process?

I learned that my blog was a big help. Everything I’m about to say was mentioned by at least 2 agents:

  • My free read and it’s ability to showcase my voice and writing in a different setting….also the mention of not being a one trick pony
  • My fantasy – some of the agents were aware that I was actively writing fantasy as well and also had a fair idea what it was about
  • Excerpt Monday – I was asked the reasons I started this and got to have a great discussion about the pre-business of being pre-published
  • Bio – It’s a little less formal than the one on my query letter and gives more of a feel of what a nerdy dork I am – they should be prepared, right?

 

So there it is. The process as seen by a crazed YA writer. Right after this happened (like the next day) I got in the car to move across the country. It didn’t go as smoothly as I’d hoped and diving into the revision notes was a slower process than normal for me. But, I’m there — in my revisions — now and excited about the whole darn thing.

I love hearing your stories! To everyone who has commented or emailed, keep them coming – the support has been amazing.

 

OTHER AGENT SEARCH POSTS:

Starting & Organizing Your Agent Search

17 Nov

When I started the querying process with my first book, I was part of a group blog called The Purple Hearts. While there I did the following post on how I found, researched and sorted agents. I thought I’d already transplanted that post, but here it is. Of course I’ve done a little updating 🙂

 I’m very visual – I need a logical way to look at information or it might as well be street graffiti. At first everyone laughed at me, but now they’ve started asking for the Bria Agent Search Spreadsheets for themselves (maybe I should start charging!)

I won’t lie. It is time consuming in the front-end. But later, when the querying begins, it will keep you on track and organized. Another plus à it will stop your focus from drifting to time wasting (and embarrassing) querying of agents who don’t rep what you write.

So, breaking this down in very easy steps, here we go:

Step 1 – Decide what you write.

My main passion and focus is YA Fantasy, but I also have ideas for a RomCom and a historical (which may be YA, Women’s Lit, or Romance – depending on who you ask) so my focus groups are: Fantasy, YA, Romance, and ChickLit. You’ll have your own, but we’ll stick with mine for these examples.

Step 2 – Create an Excel Spreadsheet

This is very easy if you’ve never done it before. Open it up and then save it as “Agent Search.”

Across the top create a column for each of the following: Agent Name, Agency, Solicit?, Email, YA, Fantasy, Rom, ChLit, RWA, P&E, Exp, TOTAL, Authors, Notes

Step 3 – Link to: http://www.agentquery.com/search_advanced.aspx

In place of my genres, put all your writing genres

Step 4 – List Creation: This is the longest part. Cut and paste each page into your spreadsheet and then line up the information with columns. Put an “1” under each genre the agent reps. You may want to consider weighting one genre heavier than others – for example, my future agent MUST rep YA, so that column gets a “2” instead of a “1.”

Step 5 – The remaining columns are weighted columns

So you may have notice that you still have RWA, P&E, Exp, and TOTAL, left.


RWA (Romance Writers of America)
is a very reputable group. Whether you write romance or not, you should consider joining. The group is highly focused on Craft and many agents have said they can often tell a person is an RWA member from their clean manuscript and professional queries.

If the agency/agent is RWA certified, add another “1”

P&E (Predators and Editors) as another amazing resource. They list everyone in the industry they’re aware of. If they give an agency/agent a “highly recommends” add a “2” – a “recommends” add a “1” —— they’ll also let you know if they “highly don’t recommend (“-2”), “don’t recommend” (“-1”), or if they are listed on “Writer Beware” (“-3”)

Exp stands for “Experience.” The longer you are in the publishing circle as an unpublished person, the more opportunities you’ll get to interact at conferences and workshops with agents. You’ll also meet some wonderful people who are already represented or have met agents (note: make sure these people are 100% reliable in your book and not just out to bash or praise to feel “in the know”).

Personally, I looked at blogs, talk to other writers, read articles, followed people on twitter. One of my top 10 agents (for book 1) was bumped off my list completely because of her attitude toward her clients and potential clients on her blog. You want to know this ahead of time. Use the same rating system as P&E.

TOTAL – create a sum total column for each row and then sort by the TOTAL column.

The last two columns are just as important. You should always be familiar with the authors an agent already reps. It lets you know what they like and where they succeed. Also, it allows you to ‘sell’ yourself better

The Notes column should be for things like industry updates, reminders about appearances (online and in person) you’d like to attend, site updates (agents sometimes stop taking queries for a short time), contests they’re judging, etc.

Then, on QueryTracker.net sort the agents into folders. I did them as Top 20, 1.5, 2.5, etc Sent, Rejected, Requested.

All this information comes together on one page to let you judge and weigh the agents to see if they’re a potential fit and if you’re a good fit for them. Don’t forget, this is a business decision…not just for them, but for you as well!

Starting this organized with this much info up front is a great step in running your writing career as just that – a CAREER.

Contact me for a blank template set up of the Agent Hunt Spreadsheet

OTHER AGENT SEARCH POSTS:

In Defense of Agents, by An Unpublished Writer

4 Sep

I’ll be upfront. I hate non-responding policies. I want to know an agent doesn’t want me so I can emotionally move on. Non-responding is the equivalent of the high school “go away to camp and come back with a new girlfriend” guy. But, I feel like there is just some absurdity coming from writers about the responding agents that I really don’t understand. Here is what I’ve learned ….not from being a writer, but from being an HR person.

 

A little background: When I first started in HR I started at the bottom of an international service industries corporate HR ladder: Staffing. (Dear staffing people, I know for a lot of people this is a career. It wasn’t here. Please don’t be offended.) Not only did I not stay there, but I had the highest success rate. How did they measure that? The managers I hired stayed longer, had more successful units, trained up more success managers from within. They also stole less and had fewer complaints brought against them. Basically, I’m decent at reading people’s abilities and integrity.

 

And it all starts with the world’s equivalent of a query letter –> a resume.

 

I feel bad for agents sometimes. It’s a double edged sword. You take “too long” with the query and you’re not working hard enough (don’t twitter like the rest of the world, or you’re slacking). “Too fast” with the query meant you either didn’t even see it OR you didn’t bother to read it. Oh, and the same people that hate non-responders, hate form letters. I say, “Bring on the form letters and thanks for letting me know!”

 

So, what, you might ask, does this have to do with resumes? A lot.

 

Just from the resume, I can tell several things. What they value. What’s important in a job. How much they know about the industry and that company specifically. You start to have a sixth sense about what might be lies or exaggerations. Stability. Not just job stability, but personal stability. The excuses that are softly folded into resumes can be amazing. And, just like publishing, the industry I was in was a big-small-world. I could pick up the phone, call a colleague and find out if my hunch was correct before you could find yourself an alibi. And don’t forget: Personality. Oh, don’t believe me about that one? Think of the most pompous person you know. Think of their vocabulary and how they use it. I know one guy who uses his like a weapon to slash everyone down before they even have a chance. Trust me, you can see that in a resume. Do you want that guy to be your boss?

 

And then there’s just a point that you can’t know: I know what my team needs. I know what I like working with. I know where the promotions (holes) are going to be. I know where somethings going to be hot because of a company move. I know a ton that you can’t know, not because you’re uneducated or unaware ….but because you aren’t in my position and my position is to keep those things to myself and do what’s best for my employees and company.

 

Finally, I can often tell if I’m going to like you. And let’s be honest, that’s important. Because no one…and I’m betting this is true for agents no matter how much they like a book…wants to work with someone long term they can’t stand to be around or don’t respect.

 

And I can do this all under 3 mins. I know what I’m looking for. I know what I’m not looking for. And, honestly, it’s 1 page. How long does that take someone who doesn’t know? 6 mins? 8?

 

So, yeah, when I get a fast rejection I get that “arg. why don’t you love my book?” feeling. But angry? No. Oh yeah, except for the one agent who responded in 47 SECONDS and misquoted my query letter. Him, I wonder about.

 

Trust agents. They want to find great books. You may have a great book but a lousy query letter. Thank goodness for the agent who told me I had a “trite looking synopsis” — it changed the entire game for me. Hopefully soon as I start the process with a new book, someone will see my query and ask for pages…and then more pages…and then more books…and then and the and then we’ll have the beginning of a beautiful partnership.