If you are pursuing a traditional publishing career, you will know by now how dang-blasted difficult it can be to win over a literary agent. First you must reach them (and hope your query letter is read by the agent and not just by the intern in charge of the slush pile). Then you must convince them that you are what I refer to as PEPASPA:
- Already published
- And Professional
And finally you have to hope above hope that your brilliantly crafted letter and first 5 pages or 3 chapters are just brilliant enough to make them want to read more.
95% of the time they won’t be.
But, if you press on, if you doggedly hone your craft and improve your skills and increase your degree of professionalism, eventually they will start asking for more material.
Believe me, all your hard work and years of toil and trouble will be worth it when you open that email and discover that a real-life agent wants to read your work! Oh what a glorious vindication that is to experience. It makes you realize you have not toiled in vain. And even if they end up passing on your manuscript, you now have (1) the distinction of being a Requested Material Person (2) the understanding that you are on the right path and (3) the vindicated mentality that you are worthy.
But how do you convince them they should read the whole thing?
Here is the answer. Are you paying attention?
Set your query aside for a couple weeks, and then spend a couple weeks editing and revising that bugger!
A couple weeks?
That’s right. Just as with the finished drafts of your book, you must take the time to not only edit and revise but also to set aside. This is a vital step many newbie authors are too impatient to take. And that’s a shame. I wonder how many potential golden ticket novels are lurking in dark drawers today because their creators simply could not let them ferment until the proper moment.
That’s it, basically.
There are no hard-packed methods, despite what others might say. If your writing is up to snuff, and you are able to convey this–along with a professional and personable voice–in your query, literary agents will eventually take notice. And then they’ll give you a number to call. You’ll call. They won’t be there to pick up, because lit agents are terrible busy people. You’ll leave a garbled stuttering message and an hour later a literary agent will call your number, to discuss your book with you.
I just sent a follow up letter. Now we wait and see what happens, but I won’t be twiddling my thumbs, as keeping busy during this time is vital to maintaining literary sanity (I go over various work items that can benefit from this period in my short guide Take it to the Bank: 9 Tools for Turning Your Book Ideas into Money in the Bank, available here.
Thank you for visiting us here at buckelsbooks, and as always, may God bless you in your endeavors!