Saturday, February 26, 2011

Questing for an Agent

So I think I'm done revising the book. Well, I suppose I'll never be done. I wrote The End on the first draft exactly a year ago. Four writer friends have read the entire book and critiqued it. I incorporated their comments, which involved some struggling. I've worked through about two-thirds of it, scene by scene, with my writer's group. I have worked through a printout, red pen in hand, copyeditor hat on. I have spellchecked it.

What's next? Try to find an agent. One of my online writer-support groups is called AgentQuest. Everybody on there is looking for an agent, and they share information about rejections and successes. Good agents and nasty ones. How to write a query letter and a synopsis. And they supportively critique same.

Here's the pitch I developed at Crime Bake last fall, which comprises the content paragraph of my query letter (note that it's convention to put the book title in all-caps so that you don't have to worry about formatting like italic or underline translating in email):

In SPEAKING OF MURDER, loner Linguistics professor Lauren Rousseau, a Quaker, uses her ear for accents to reveal secrets after her sexy star student's murder on campus. Confusing the case are an abusive department chairwoman, Lauren's friend's kidnapping, and a French heroin supplier in small-town Massachusetts. When Lauren puts aside conflicted feelings for her boyfriend, his expertise in video forensics helps her solve the mystery. The story is complete at 76,000 words.

I'm not sure that's my final paragraph, but it's a start. I also have the required one-page synopsis, and the first three chapters ready to go. Agent requirements vary, but many seem to want this triad of elements. People also say not to give up until you have 100 agent rejections under your belt.

And then? One can turn to querying small presses and try to get published, in paper, by that route. Another friend has self-published in online book format only. He's selling on Amazon and elsewhere. And since even with a publisher, big or small, authors have to do most of their own promotion anyway, that's an option. You can make more money per book if you sell online.

Ah, well. These are options for the future. Right now I'm going to focus on agents. Wish me luck!

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