Friday, November 11, 2011

Small Publishers

After more than a few people suggested I query small publishers, I finally gave it a try and received several positive responses, certainly a higher percentage than from literary agents. I listen more carefully now when writers talk about their success with small presses. My contacts seem to have a close working relationship with their editors and speak highly of their experiences. If you're tired of querying agents who don't respond, consider this route.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New Blog

I have a new blog, Single Life and Love After Fifty, and I hope you will let your friends know about it. Thanks for passing the link to anyone you think may be interested.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Submission Package Differences

I sent submission packages to eight publishers who did not require agent representation. All asked for a standard query letter but each publisher had specific requests as to other information they wanted. In most cases, rewriting the final paragraph satisfied their particular requirements. Aside from the usual request to specify genre, number of pages, and word count, one publisher asked for an exact statement to be included at the end of the query certifying that the work was mine and original. An interesting twist and one I had not encountered. Keep your old versions of queries and other submission materials. You never know when one of them will be exactly what an agent or publisher wants.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Small Publishers

I was doing a Google search on the contents of a "typical" submission package. It seems every agent wants a different mix of materials, especially the synopsis which ranges from one page max to as many as ten pages. I was hoping for some advice on hitting a happy medium for a short and long synopsis that I could use for everyone.

I included multiple search words trying to zero in on the answer to my synopsis question and ended up stumbling upon the mother-lode of small publishers actively seeking mysteries - no agent needed. I've looked at five screens already with many more screens to go.

After all the careful searching I've done for agents and small presses, I don't know how I missed finding these. No name was familiar - all new possibilities.

Don't give up on your search for agents, or for small presses if that route appeals to you. Apparently there are plenty of both!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How Many Queries?

In my ongoing search for agents for my YA mystery and romantic mystery, I came across an online publication that concludes it's necessary to send out 150 queries for any hope of snagging an agent. Unfortunately I didn't bookmark it for further reading but the article breaks down the actions an agent takes upon receiving a query: deleting it unread, reading part or all of it and then deleting it, requesting a couple pages or chapters, and the rarity of requesting a full manuscript. That long list of 150 queries narrows down to a few positive responses. I just had an experience with an agent I was certain was going to represent me but she bailed! Even surviving the submission odds doesn't guarantee anything.

Querytracker has a section which breaks down the number of monthly submissions specific agents receive to the number of rejections and requests for more material. Most agents have an extremely high rejection rate. Why bother to query an agent who rejects nearly everything they receive? Chances are they have a full client list. It may be more productive to look for agents with a record of being more receptive to new material. Don't overlook new agents - they're in the process of building a client list!

Always check Preditors and Editors to weed out unscrupulous agents!

Monday, July 25, 2011

I've been busy querying agents about The Christmas Festival Murders. I've had a couple requests for more material. A maybe is lots better than a flat-out no. As long as I get encouraging feedback, I'll keep querying. In the meantime, I'm working on a new story - more suspense than mystery. The setting is Amsterdam, one of my all-time favorite cities. Having had the chance to live in Holland, I fell in love with the quaint bell-shaped roof lines, canals, houseboats, and narrow streets. I can't wait to incorporate these into my story.

Keep writing and chasing agents. Let's get published!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Querying Again

I've taken a rest from trying to get my YA novel published. I came so close to hooking an agent but at the end of the process, she decided against representing it. So sad! At least, it gave me hope that a real agent with a reputable agency almost took it on.

I was frazzled from months of sending out queries and needed a change so I pulled out my first attempt at writing, The Christmas Festival Murders. When I finished it several years ago, I had an agent who was representing a children's chapter book so I sent my mystery to her. She loved my children's book so I expected raves about this one too. Instead, she recommended I cut out the first seventy pages which was about a quarter of the manuscript! Do what?

I couldn't bring myself to make those cuts so I put it away while I wrote the YA story. When I looked at the manuscript a year later, I agreed with the agent. Those seventy pages were full of fluff. I really liked the storyline so I kept that but rewrote the entire manuscript. I added a romantic interest for my female sleuth. Although I did it to spice-up the story, the book is now a romantic mystery which expands its marketability.

Just recently I had part of the manuscript critiqued through the North Carolina Writers' Network - the critiquer said it was ready to go - not a word about cutting out large chunks of material. Yay! Apparently I'd learned something and all that writing and rewriting paid off.

I just started the query process - again! I got some auto-rejections right off the bat but I've had a request for more material - an encouraging sign.

Querying is tedious, boring, and frustrating. Researching agents all day makes me feel like I'm been in a semi-coma. It's not surprising that writers (me included) scramble names and e-mail addresses and send queries to the wrong agent. I've found splitting a day between researching/sending out queries and working on another manuscript is more tolerable. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. It took me a while to figure that out. I so wanted to send a query to every agent I thought might be the one.

Let's get published!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Word Choices

I bought a novel at the last minute for light reading on a recent plane trip. The story was predictable but it was entertaining enough to pass the hours on the flight. However, as soon as I started reading, the main male character chuckled at everything that happened. As the novel progressed, he chuckled every other page. To make it even more annoying, his father entered the story and he chuckled too. Obviously a genetic thing!

I know that I tend to use some words more than others but I try to be aware of them and use the Find function to see exactly how many times I've used a particular word, on what pages it appears, and how often it pops up. A distinctive word sprinkled over the course of a manuscript is acceptable - every other page is not. It's distracting to the reader.

I know we all try to use power words but sometimes a lesser word is preferable. In this case, smiled would've conveyed the characters' feelings and I would've glossed over it without even being aware of how often it was used. Chuckled was too noticeable, used way too many times, and brought the sentence and the story to a standstill.

Let's get published!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Publishing in 2011

Nothing has happened in my publishing efforts since Thanksgiving. I had to abandon my querying efforts during the holidays. I can barely pull off Christmas for my large family so all other interests fall by the wayside. Now that the Christmas boxes are packed and put away, I pulled out my first manuscript from several years ago. I'd edited it pretty vigorously last year and happily discovered it was in pretty good shape so I've been polishing it during the last week. Once I give it the final go-over and complete the submissions package, I plan to send out queries for it.

That brings me to some questions - what are your ideas about your approach for getting publishing in this new year? Are you going to continue sending out queries to agents or do you have new ideas? I expect to continue with e-queries but I've discovered some small presses and specialty presses which I added to my list. I'm starting to research electronic publishing which, I believe, is the future and merits a thorough investigation.

What are you planning to do? I hope you share your opinions.