Thursday, March 20, 2014

Writing A Novel: Getting A Literary Agent

I've made a big decision about my latest manuscript: Before self-publishing this book, I'd like to see if I can get an agent -- and get my book published in a traditional venue.

I think I've written about this before, but just to recap, I've been through this process twice. In 2003, I received offers from two agents who were interested in representing BAND GEEK (at the time, I was calling the book WHO'S ON FIRST? because of the narrator's fight for first chair flute). I signed on with the bigger agent, who was based in New York City and had many connections. She was a wonderful agent; she helped me fix some major problems in my book and stuck with me for a couple of years. Two publishing houses came close to buying my book, but no dice, so my agents and I parted ways. Yes, I was basically dumped -- but I have absolutely no hard feelings. Business is business and she really took a chance on me. How can I be angry about that?

A few years later, my husband and I came up with an idea for a quirky travel guide. Again, we managed to get an agent and she sent our outline to about 20 publishing houses. The editors loved our work and were ready to buy it. I really got my hopes up and thought that there might even be a bidding war... but this time, it was the marketing people who canned our idea. They couldn't figure out where our guide would be placed in the bookstore because it combined several genres.

It was at this point that I became very jaded about the publishing industry. Then I broke my leg and got into making jewelry ... but that's a whole other story! Anyway, by 2012 -- 10 years after I'd written BAND GEEK -- I just wanted to put my writing out there and chose to self publish. I'm so happy I did so, too. I have all the respect in the world for independent authors. There are many talented writers whose work "doesn't fit" in the traditional publishing world, for whatever reason; sites like Amazon and Smashwords are giving them the opportunity to share their writing. Completing a book is difficult enough, but I've found that it's even harder to have to market your own work. I'm still learning how to do that.

I've always dreamed of seeing my book in a book store, though. I realize that the publishing industry is changing, but I'd still like to take a shot at having someone like my work enough that they actually want to pay me an advance (even if said advance is only three figures) and help me sell my book. This is why I'm going to see if I can get an agent for my latest ms. Third time's the charm, right? I have nothing to lose; if I don't find an agent or my book isn't sold to a publishing house, all I have to do is publish it on my own. Either way, I win.

Right now, I'm editing my work and hope to send it out to agents some time next month. Meantime, please read and review REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

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