You’re nearly there! All that work and effort is about to pay off, for sure. Just need to do a little more prepping and polishing and you’ll be ready to send off your manuscript!
But what things do you need to think about first?
1. Are you actually ready?
If you’ve edited the heck out of your novel, had it read by some trusted readers, proof-checked it, and feel like there is nothing more you can do… then yes, you’re probably ready.
Mentally? That’s something only YOU can answer. The road to publication is a tough one and rejections suck, so make sure you’re as prepared and as bolstered as you can be for this.
2. Have you chosen a publishing route?
For most people the traditional route of publishing is the preferred option, but of course, it isn’t the only one.
Should you self-publish? There’s nothing to say you shouldn’t and Amazon and Kindle are making the process easier and easier. You get to control your content, the price, the whole package of it. BUT you will have to do all the leg-work when it comes to design, marketing etc.
You are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t at least try to get published the traditional way. What have you got to lose? If they say no? Welp, there is ALWAYS self-publishing to fall back on.
3. How to find an agent
Finding the right agent for you is the most important part of this journey. Potentially this person will be responsible for the rest of your writing career.
So it’s always helpful if you feel some kind of connection with them, or their work ethic, or whatever.
- AgentHunter.co.uk is a great place to start. Subscription/registration might be needed.
- The Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook. The aspiring writer’s bible. All agents are listed, and although it’s harder to search without ‘ctrl-f’, it’s great to have a hard-copy.
- Twitter. Yep. Stalk potential agents and get a feel for what they represent and what they might be looking for.
- Look up the agents of book that you love or that are similar to yours. There’s no point submitting that YA SF manuscript to an agent who hates SF and will never rep YA.
4. The Query Letter
Oh, we could write VOLUMES just on this point alone. However, a good rule of thumb is this:
Paragraph 1 – Introduce your book. Title. Genre. Word count. A one sentence blurb/hook. Similar books, if applicable.
Paragraph 2 – Introduce yourself. Noteworthy achievements. Why you want this particular agent to rep you. Your online presence, if applicable. (Blog, twitter followers, instagram etc).
REMEMBER – Every agent will want something different. Some will ask for the first chapter, others might want the whole thing (rare, but it does happen). So read individual guidelines carefully.
Great advice can be found here:
Plus see some examples of successful queries here:
5. Do I really need an agent?
You can approach a publishing house by yourself but not only is it easier for an agent to get your novel seen by the right people, they also sort out all of the legal shizz for you too. God bless the middle man, in this case.
Your agent will always have YOUR best interests at heart. That’s the only way they’ll get paid, after all.
6. How many should I submit to?
As many as you like! In this day and age it’s ridiculous to hold back and wait for one to reject you before sending to another. Bulk send.
Start with, say, 5-10. And then wait. As replies come back (hopefully good, but probably not so good) send out another wave.
7. Get out there.
Twitter often holds events called #PitMad (or variations of) where writers are invited to pitch their novel in the length of a tweet. Agents from all over the world tune in and scan the responses. And guess what? If yours gets favourited by an agent then it means they want to see more.
Also, if you have the time/money, get yourself to some of the writing events that have agent 1-to-1 appointments. These are a great opportunity to practice pitching your novel, and will give you instant feedback on how to improve. And again, you never know, the agent might want to read more!
- YALC – has 1-to-1 agent meeting again this year.
- Winchester Writers’ Fest – one of the best weekends for all things writerly. Plus agent appointments for every delegate.
- London Book Fair – If you can get your appointment application in early enough this is a bonkers, and valuable experience.
- Plus more! Many literary festivals also include these types of 1-to-1 or panel based events with agents.
So what are you waiting for? Get that manuscript ready and put it out into the world!
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