Monday, September 25, 2006

Monday, September 25, 2006
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and Pleasant

“Cadence” is up on Circadian Poems today.

It’s Banned Books Week. Time to tell the Censors who are so insecure in their own beliefs that they feel the need to control what everyone else reads (because, God forbid, intelligent people might actually USE some of that intelligence and not toe the line) where they can shove it.

Speaking of books . . .

I read one of the books I was so excited to read on Saturday night going into Sunday. What a disappointment! 120 pages of self-pity! I kept hoping it would get better, that it would sparkle the way the reviewers (all of the same gender as the author, I might add) swore it did. I found it carefully artificed faux-stream-of-consciousness wallowing. I can name, off the top of my head, at least two dozen Major Junior hockey players half the author’s age with double and triple the author’s emotional intelligence. There were one or two entertainingly written passages, but my overall impression of the book – and the man – was negative.

When I had to drive around to all those stores looking for the book and couldn’t find it, I should have taken it as an omen and given up!

It’s hard enough to make a business in this line of work, and I’m glad he’s able to publish . . .but I won’t be spending my money on his next book, thank you very much.


Sunday was spent in admin work – finished going through the market listings, making detailed notes on various pieces.

Whether you’re looking for an agent or an editor, it’s vital that you do your research BEFORE you submit. I can’t tell you how sick and tired I am of hearing writers – who belong to groups that post information regularly on research – who STILL see an agent or editor somewhere and send off material without doing proper research and then cry when they get scammed.

There are several steps:

Make the initial list. From that list, check all of them on Predators and Editors, and cross several of them off. From THAT list, start researching each individual. Check the company website, and then check the internet in general. Find at least three testimonials or three complaints, and you get a good idea of the person. And several more get crossed off. Some because of complaints. Some because the tone of their site is a turn off. Some because, at a closer read, specialize differently since they filled out the form for the market listing. By the time I finish, I’ve cut 25% of my original list. Now I have a solid list, with details of who prefers email, who prefers snail mail, who wants a query, who wants a synopsis, who wants attachments, who wants it in the body, who wants mysterious scrawls on the back of the envelope . . .

Then, go over the manuscript yet again, to see if there are any more tweaks to make, and then write the synopsis (my least favorite part of the process, but necessary).

Because everything has to be ready COMPLETELY before you send out the queries: finished manuscript, strong query letter, logline, paragraph summary, synopsis, outline. Otherwise you’re simply wasting their time. And that is not a good first impression to make, even if you are not a good match. It’s disrespectful.

It’s time consuming. But the more time you take at the beginning to do you research and set up your system, the less time it will take down the road, as you have to fill requests.

And I’ve said it a million times: Finding the right match for your manuscript is like finding a soul mate. You have to date around a bit, and it’s rare you’ll find it the first time out.

About a dozen years ago, I had five agents within a space of 18 months. Fired them all, because I could negotiate a better contract (no I'm not bragging -- I worked in the contracts department of a publisher, asked a lot of questions, and learned where the potholes are -- and have since become a union negotiator), and, basically, they all wanted me to write either formula regency romance, or formula character-free cozy mystery (you know the kind – give the MC a neurosis and call it a “fresh take” – blech), neither of which had anything to do with the material that supposedly originally interested them – and did not interest me. There was nothing wrong with them as people or as business professionals. We were simply not a good match. And, I recently noticed, none of them are in the business any longer! But they were more interested in making me over into what they knew they could sell instead of getting excited about my actual work. So I’m not really sure why they wanted me in their stable in the first place.

I have several agents with whom I keep in touch on a regular basis. If I come up with something I think they’d like, sure, I’d pitch. But I’m not stressing about the agent hunt. I worked in publishing. I know quite well that, if the door isn’t open, you simply climb through the window.

I have a lot of writing to get done today, and yet more admin work.

I’m reading Michael Cox’s novel The Meaning of Night and enjoying it thoroughly.



At 9:35 AM, Blogger Bailey Stewart said...

who wants mysterious scrawls on the back of the envelope *gg*

Great advice Devon - thanks!

At 11:42 AM, Blogger Melissa Marsh said...

I've been searching for an agent for awhile - and it is a tedious process. But I'm thoroughly convinced that you have to have the right one for you and your work, otherwise it will get you nowhere and put your career into a tailspin.

At 1:07 PM, Blogger Siobhan said...

This is very good advice, Devon. Thanks!

At 1:09 PM, Blogger Siobhan said...

This is very good advice, Devon. Thanks!

At 2:16 PM, Blogger Debra Young said...

Excellent advice. Thank you. d;)

At 11:29 PM, Blogger Jackie said...

Five agents in 18 months? Oi...

I couldn't agree with you more: do all research BEFORE sending out the query, let alone the manuscript.

At 12:29 AM, Blogger EJ said...

5 in 18 months? Wow! It took me over 18 months to just fire the one I had.


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