Tag Archives: agent

If You Hate the Thought of Pitching Your Book

Write a Book Collection

I’ve been nagging one of my personal coaching students to complete the pitch (query letter) for her novel. Yes, she could publish it as an ebook, BUT the book’s wonderful; she needs an agent. Which means pitching — and she’s nervous.

If you ever needed a reason to begin your novel by writing the blurb, it’s querying. Writing a blurb first just makes pitching easier. I know she can do this, and over the weekend we’ll have a long brainstorming session which will help.

Pitching isn’t easy. However, the more you do it, the easier it gets. The thought of pitching no longer bothers me, but when I first started writing several decades ago, writing query letters made me feel physically ill. If I got over it, you can too.

Here’s an excellent outline of a pitch, Writer Beware Blogs!: Guest Post: Dear Agent — Write the Letter That Sells Your Book:

“1. Take your main character (MC) and give him/her an epithet… eg vengeful divorcee, desperate aspiring author;
2. Identify the MC’s central mission/problem/fear and what he stands to lose if he fails.
3. Brainstorm words and phrases that your book conjures up, including themes, moods, actions.
4. Pick the 25-30 that sound most compelling.
5. Pick the 5-8 of those that sound even more compelling then the others.
6. Fashion those ingredients into a tight, heart-tugging 25-word pitch.
7. Include wolves.”

#7 is optional. 🙂

Here’s what I’ve found useful.

Write about your book, in your journal

Pretend you’re writing an email message to a close friend. Tell him what he’ll get out of the book: “you’ll be scared. You’ll fall in love with the hero. You should see the mess they get into, when they…¦”

Write quickly. Don’t think about it. Don’t take your fingers from the keyboard — or your pen from the paper if you’re writing by hand.

Once you’ve described your book, describe the characters. What are their goals? How does each character change?

Tip: this exercise is useful at every stage of writing. If you’re just starting your book, write about it. If you’re stuck, write about it. When you’re revising, write about it.

I keep a book journal for every book I write. I started doing this because I always seem to be doing 101 things at once (I’m a Gemini), and sometimes three or four days go by when I can’t work on my book. Keeping a journal helps me to stay in the book — I can review my thinking, and get back into the same state of mind.

Pitching won’t kill you

I promise. 🙂 Write your pitch, even if you feel nauseous. Get a friend to review it for you. Better yet, hire an editor to review it.

Then send it out.

Here’s the worst that can happen: agents completely ignore you. (This is highly unlikely, if you send your pitch out often enough.)

That’s not so bad.

Should you send your pitch to one agent at a time?

I’m often asked whether you should send your pitch out to many agents simultaneously.

You can do whatever you feel is best. However, I suggest one agent at a time. Research the agent online first. Read her/ his blog. Study the agent’s client list.

Personalize your letter/ email message, to ensure that the agent knows that you’re not sending out a mass email. Write something like:

“I enjoyed your blog post on _________ (whatever. Tell her why you enjoyed it.) _____ (Author name) is one of my favorite authors, I loved his ________ (whatever) book.”

Pitching won’t kill you, and it’s not rocket science. Do enough of it, and you’ll enjoy it. 🙂

Everyone Change: An Agent Becomes a Publisher

Literary agents find publishers for their authors. This is the way it was.

It’s no longer the way…

Ed Victor’s a literary agent, and is now a publisher too. He tells his story in this article, Ebook revolution can kindle a passion for publishing – Telegraph:

“Becoming a publisher has, I think, made me a better agent because I now understand so much more about how our industry needs to operate in an era of constantly shifting commercial assumptions. Until I started putting my money where my mouth is – an agent’s job could be described as asking publishers to put their money where the agent’s mouth is! – I didn’t truly understand just what a tough business we are all in now.”

Publishing’s going through immense changes. As long as we’re all prepared to change too, books will survive. And that’s all that counts, right? 🙂

I love this article, it gives me hope for the future of publishing. We all have so many tools we can use now, there’s no point in kvetching about the state of publishing. Let’s be grateful and do the best we can.

I’m convinced the future of publishing is bright, for authors, for literary agents, and for publishers. Let’s all step out of our boxes.

Literary agents: a bad agent will kill your career

Over the past week, I’ve had several messages from writers about agents. Each writer thought an agent would be the answer to their woes.

If only that were so. 🙂

Pay attention: a bad agent will kill your career. Ask any professional writer for their “bad agent” horror stories, and stand well back when they unleash their rage.

Big tip: wait until someone offers you money for your book, and then get an agent. Agents make money from your sales. If you don’t have any sales, guess what kind of “agent” you get?

I don’t mean this post to sound as if I’m down on agents, I’m not. Most agents are professional, hard-working people, who do their best for their writers. As in any group, there are incompetents and bad apples.

If you’re a new writer, it’s impossible for you to get a good agent unless you’ve already sold a book, or are close to selling.

Focus on your writing — you have complete control over that — and not on details, like agents. Once you write a good book which someone wants to publish, you’ll get a good agent, not before.