Monday, June 26, 2006

Literary Agents who send personalized letters

I receieved three rejections for my current novel searching for a publishing home,
  • The Way of Deception
  • -- and two of them were form letters. One of the letters was personalized. The letter began, Dear Mr. Gibbs (and that happens sometimes even with a form style letter -- named my book, said it was interesting, but then it shocked me. The letter then spoke about the genre my book falls into -- thriller, specifically, a conspiracy thriller, and how it is a difficult genre because of how crowded it is now because of particular books (Dan Brown's comes to mind). Then they gave me the usual lip service about not being able to give the book the attention it deserved, and not to be discouraged because there may be an agent out there for my novel.

    This is a lesson in reverse. We tend to send our query letters out in a big bundle, with this mass mailing where only the Dear whoever and address is different. But agents are like us, they get a thrill when they can tell a query letter has a personal touch, so don't we owe it to them, and our careers, to do so? Anything that increases my odds of getting noticed is good in my book. . . hence why I am also going to attend my first Writer's Conference in October.

    Sunday, June 25, 2006

    Working on Somatic

    The newest draft of Chapter One for Somatic was written today. It came out pretty good. My wife suggests that I can the first half dozen paragraphs because they are over-descriptive. I feel good about this one. If
  • The Way of Deception
  • doesn't sell, then this will be my next book to hit the market with. If The Way of Deception does sell, then Somatic will be a great second novel (which is the one a new writer is judged by anyhow).

    We'll see.

    Excerpt: "Your past, once it discovers how much you have mistreated it, will always find a way to come back and haunt you. It's like a ghost in the hall. First the lights of recognition begin to flicker. Then the chains of guilt rattle. After that, the sheer fright of realizing the truth is often enough to kill a man. Sometimes, when many apparitions exist, a man must run from his past, for if it catches up to him, surely the spirits of such a tormented history will not simply deal the mercy of death, but will haunt a man until death becomes his only solace."

    Friday, June 23, 2006

    How ideas are born

  • Somatic
  • has evolved. What began as a horror story became a thriller which became something in between. Four drafts years ago, a fifth one last year, and now a new draft emerges, different from the last five. Name change too, and I decided to name it after my most popular blog, Political Pistachio.

    Here's the tagline I created for the new everchanging novel:

    Brooke Kittrick believes political conspiracies guide everything. Undeniable proof stops for lunch at a diner she frequents. Learning the truth could save his life, or end hers.

    Wednesday, June 21, 2006

    Another One Bites the Dust

    Remember that agent that wanted the first four chapters of my book? They rejected it. Hmmm, was it the writing? Possibly not. After the rejection I began wondering, why did they like the premise in the query letter enough to request the chapters, only to reject it using the words, ". . .not for us"?

    Perhaps the writing was bad. Maybe they did not like how I began the book. Maybe the hook did not show their attention. Perhaps, maybe, could have been. . .

    Or was it something else?

    In the book I am reading, "Making the Perfect Pitch" by Katharine Sands, it is indicated that sometimes an author is rejected by not just following an instruction. . . okay, so did I not follow a direction properly.

    Then it dawned on me.

    The e-mail address for the original query was not the e-mail address the agent responded with - - and the e-mail said "why don't you send me the first three of four chapters to this e-mail address."

    He has a separate e-mail address for incoming, requested information, and I sent it to the original query address. That was it.

    The funny thing is that I am a stickler for paying attention to detail, and the one time I don't, I lost out. Lesson learned - - pay attention to every detail.

    Sunday, June 18, 2006

    A note to the writer seeking a literary agent for publication

    Sometimes not-so-talented writers get published through sheer determination, while others with lots of writing talent never get published. Rejection simply means that you have not found the right editor, at the right house, at the right time.

    Tenacity pays off. Never quit.

    A professional is an amateur who didn't quit.

    Wednesday, June 14, 2006

    Literary Agents update

    Holy cow! Rejection #49 came in, but yesterday I also got an e-mail from an agent requesting the first 3 or 4 chapters of my book.

    Woo hoo!

    After letting go of a dud of an agent last year, I didn't think I'd receive the opportunity to land another one this soon - hence one of the reasons for the upcoming conference - which I am still going to, by the way.

    Anyhow, thank you for your prayers, and we'll see how this goes. Remember, just because they want to see a sample of my writing doesn't mean that I am in. The query sparked an interest, but the writing has to fuel the flame.

    Tuesday, June 13, 2006

    A positive response to a query letter!

    During the weekend (two days ago) I sent out a handful of e-mail queries regarding The Way of Deception and one of them came back requesting sample chapters. Haroo, harrah, sending out a partial has my blood pumpin', and this guy is a real reputable agent. I am stoked. But, hey, that doesn't mean I'm accepted. It just means that he wants to see my writing. I'm ready. Represent me, I'll make ya a lot of money.

    Thursday, June 08, 2006

    Writer's Conferences

    In my growth as a writer I have often said that I became more effective as a writer when I began treating it like a business, and this is true. But how serious am I? Enough to fork out money for a Writers Conference? The La Jolla Writers Conference is coming up. It's a three-day event in its sixth year, and though smaller than the others, still a place to meet editors, agents, and learn more about the craft of writing. My wife and I have prayed about it, and decided that I will attend. If I am serious about being a writer, I must network. What better place than a writers conference?

    This is a smaller conference, a great way to get my feet wet. That way, something like Maui, or the San Diego Writers Conference, won't blow me away - - because I'll already have experience at a smaller conference. Beside, who knows, maybe this is how I will get discovered. At worst, I'll learn something, and at best, I'll be published. Seems like a can't lose situation to me.

    In the book, Making the Perfect Pitch, by Katharine Sands, there is an interview with a literary agent by the name of Barbara Lowenstein of Lowenstein-Yost Associates. One of the questions posed was: How does a writer communicate that they're going to be a successful client for you?

    Lowenstein responded saying, They start by going to writers' conferences. (bingo!) These conferences really give them an inside look into the publishing industry. They get to network with editors, a few agents, and other writers. And the fact that they have invested their time and money in these workshops tells me that they're serious.

    Wow, if that doesn't convince me that I need to be at conferences then I don't know what would. There was a book festival at UCLA not too long ago also, and Mario Acevedo (met him last year-and had a quick meal and Q&A session with him and J.A. Konrath - it was so cool) was there. I need to be at events like that as well.

    I am a firm believer that good things don't fall into your lap. You have to go get them. Dreams are wonderful, but only dreams if not accompanied by hard work.

    One thing is for sure. I am very excited about this conference. I will be attending October 20-22, 2006. I'll fill you in afterward how it went.

    Monday, June 05, 2006

    Query Letter: Keep it simple

    I am constantly reading and learning, and getting rejected and learning . . . and have learned something that, according to the agents out there, few have figured out. When it comes to sending a query, keep it simple.

    New writers feel that they have to tell everything that happens in their novel in that one paged letter, and they oversell, over-pitch, over-summarize, and put way too much information into their query letters because they are afraid they might forget something, a key piece that will catch the agent's eye.

    How does the novel begin? Show that.

    It comes down to whether or not it is a story that the agent feels he or she can make money on. Is it a story that they would want to read?

    The agents want the category, the title, and the setting, the name of the protagonist, and the problem. Good writing is apparent. Your skill as a writer will present itself in your letter. Don't cover up your talent with hype.

    Good luck, and good hunting.