Several months ago, the local library asked if I’d be interested in helping start a critique group there. Mind you, it’s been something I’ve asked about off and on for a year or more. The problem has always been space. Our library is bursting at the seams right now and we are anxiously awaiting the completion of the new building next year. Any way, I digress.
The critique group has been an interesting experience for me because I’m the “pro”. I’m the one with the experience and the only one with any pro publications under my belt. More than that, it has shown me the importance of research. Not only about your current project — you know, making sure you don’t have your character from Tudor England using plastic toothpicks or your aliens from a totally non-Earth planet drinking coffee on their spaceship — but also about your target market, be it an agent, an editor or readers.
Part of knowing your target market for an agent, and even for a publisher, is knowing what they want AND knowing their submission requirements. There have been several blogs this week where agents discuss the how-to of their submission processes. Jane Dystel, of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management, discusses the “etiquette” of submitting to their agency. First on her list is “read the agency’s submission guidelines”. That seems so simple and yet it is ignored so often. As writers, we sometimes seem to think the rules don’t apply to us. After all, if we send our murder mystery to Agent X printed on blood red paper and little hearts with tiny knives sticking out of them decorate our envelop that will have to get us noticed and moved to the top of their to be read stack, right? Wrong. It will get you noticed. But you’ll find the bottom of File 13, not the top of the TBR stack.
Another one of Ms. Dystel’s rules is to be sure you include all your contact information. Apparently, there are some of us out there who think agents are also mind readers. They don’t need our email addresses or phone numbers. If they like our project enough, they’ll be able to magically devine how to contact us. (That sound you near now is my head thudding against my desk as I wonder if I remembered to put my email address on the last submission I sent out…oh, I did. Whew!) More to the point, in my opinion, than Ms. Dystel’s rules of how to submit is Jessica Faust’s blog entry on how to get an instant rejection from her agency (BookEnds, LLC).
In short, you need to read up on the agent and what he represents, what he’s looking for and then, if submitting to him, follow the agency’s submission guidelines. In other words, reseach.
(steps off of soapbox)
Some links of interest this week:
- Rachelle Gardner wrote a five-part series on “Proposal to Publication” this past week. While I might not agree with everything she says, there are some good points there.
- WriterJenn has an interesting post about how, as a writer, you need to be patient.
And, as always, ebooks are in the news:
- Barnes & Noble announced the launch of its own ebook store. It will have something along the line of 700,000 books and, in conjunction with this, B&N announced it has entered into an exclusive agreement with Plastic Logic to provide ebooks for its reader.
- PBS took on the issue of how the publishing industry is confronting “changing reader habits”. It’s an interesting article/interview about how ebooks are changing not only the face of publishing but also how they are impacting the brick and mortar stores.
- Finally, the Idea Logical Blog discusses “A context in which to evaluate ebook strategies” and the four phases that will, or have, occurred in the process of ebooks becoming a true major player in the publishing landscape.
Lots of links, a little soap boxing, so how about discussion now? What are your thoughts on any of this?