Figuring out the topic for my blog? Piece of cake.
Wondering where to begin? Not quite as easy…at least, until today.
Now, the rule of all good writing, is never open your book with backstory. Always start with a bang – at the point where a character’s life is about to change (Snappy dialogue helps).
My intro? An agent likes my book!
Well, at least the first three chapters and synopsis, which I’d submitted to her, following a successful pitch online via Toronto Romance Writers (a chapter of the Romance Writers of America). I’d joined a couple years ago, but only this year decided to make a concerted effort to actually attend the monthly chapter meetings, workshops and seminars.
During one of the monthly meetings, we’d met with an agent flown in from the US, and she spoke with us about industry do’s and dont’s when seeking representation, and also agreed to field our pitches for our current WIP (work’s in progress).
Of those in my chapter who elected to take her up on her offer, my pitch was one of the few that made the cut, so I’d then sent in the first three chapters of my manuscript along with the full synopsis. After a few weeks of hearing nothing, I’d given up hope that I would then advance to the next stage (full manuscript submission).
At least, until yesterday when I’d received an email from said agent asking for a full manuscript submission of my romance novel: The Sweetest Victory.
I was also feeling a bit pessimistic about whether or not I’d hear back from her as I’d previously submitted this manuscript (roughly the first 45 pages +synopsis) to three separate writing contests earlier in the year and received varying/mixed results (more on this in a future blog entry).
But here she was saying, “I’d really enjoyed the read and would love to read the rest of your book!” Words that had me leap up and do a giddy, spastic victory (Hah! See what I did there?) dance.
As this was my first every pitch/attempt at securing literary representation, the fact that I’d successfully passed the pitch round, as well as the second round with the first three chapters/synopsis – receiving a follow-up request for the WHOLE book is a HUGE deal.
It means I am quite possibly one step closer to potentially getting published.
Why do you need an agent? Can’t you get published without one?
In the day and age of self-publishing? Yes, but they certainly do help. Agents know the industry and the people in it. And all of the large traditional publishing houses (where you ideally would like your book to end up) won’t even look at you (90% of the time) without one.
Ok, fine. But what do they do?
Agents typically specialize in genres, therefore they’ll know which editors to pitch/market your book to, what’s hot and what’s not in the current publishing market, and they’ll also know how to fine tune all the kinks in your manuscript and synopsis to increase your chances of joining the prestigious ranks of the PUBLISHED elite!
So they get your foot in the door. Then what? Doesn’t sound like much of a trade-off to me.
Well, an agent’s job just doesn’t end there. Once you have an offer on the table, they are your advocates that fight for your ‘writes’ (hah!) as an author, helping you secure the best deal for YOU (and themselves). Not the publishers. Navigating the complicated legalese that would invariably have most people going cross-eyed with trying to decode and translate the complicated contract into layman’s.
Added to that, if you’re a newbie first timer, like myself, you’ll need someone to hold your hand and to help you navigate through the complicated process of book editing and publishing. It’s not a simple, let’s bang this out in a weekend sort of thing. A single book with an average word count (60K) could eat up MONTHS of your time.
Rewrites, rewrites and more rewrites. Cover concept and design. Formatting. and then finally publication and marketing. The list goes. Literary agents have run the gamut before and know all the quirky in’s and out’s that you could otherwise find quite overwhelming.
So, having said that, fingers crossed I finally get one of my very, very own! 🙂