So You Want To Write A Book
Every since I’ve gotten my book contract, writer friends have asked what the secret is to getting an agent.
I’d like to tell you there’s a secret formula for writing a perfect query letter or giving the perfect pitch, but there really isn’t. I know there are agents who will post query letters that they loved on their sites, and there are any number of books on the subject of how to write the perfect query letter. You can distill your book down to a perfect sixty-second pitch. (Yes, I did say sixty seconds.) But the fact is, if you don’t have a compelling story, your book won’t sell.
Agents are looking for books they can sell. It isn’t personal. An agent might like your book, but if she knows she can’t sell it, she isn’t going to take it on. Most agents receive hundreds of unsolicited queries a week, so if you are querying, try to make sure you spell the agent’s name correctly and do your research on the kind of book he or she represents. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll get read, but it will put you ahead of a great many who do query.
It sounds grim. Well, in some ways it is. more books are being published than ever before, but more people are writing books than ever before. That means if you want to get considered by an agent, you also have to work on your manuscript and make it shine. If you aren’t a writer by trade, I strongly suggest hiring a developmental editor to go over your manuscript.
However, one of the best things you can do for yourself is find a writers group. I love writers groups because the afford you the chance to network, and the more people you meet, the more connections you make. This is important on a lot of levels. Connections help you form your network, but more basically they connect you to other writers. You’ll meet up and bond with writers who like the same things you do whether it be Doctor Who or True Detective or my personal favorite, Sharknado. Of course you can do this on the Internet too, but it’s nice to put a face to the name so that when you’re embarking on your next Sharknado marathon you can tweet with each other about the awful–I mean awesome acting and special effects. Maybe you’ll connect with a great critique group or one person who will be a fantastic writing partner. This most important thing is you can find someone to give you support when you get rejected the first, second, and fifteenth time. And celebrate when you finally get that yes.
Another plus, most groups have speakers in the form of published writers, agents, and editors come to speak, and these are people you need to hear from.
Maybe you are the kind of person with the internal drive and commitment to just keep plugging and pushing until you break through. Maybe you don’t care about traditional publishing and figure you’ll go the self publishing route. Either way it’s so helpful to be part of a group.
Writing is a very lonely profession. You labor in front of your computer screen and send off your queries and pages and hope. You go to writing conferences and rehearse your pitches until they are perfect. The sad fact is that we deal with rejection until we suddenly don’t. And that makes it worthwhile.