Call it cold feet.
Nah, let’s call it, being truly prepared. Here at Rust Belt Girl, I’m documenting my journey into the frightening abyss that is traditional publishing. Only I haven’t set off just yet.
Here’s the deal: right now, I’m preparing to query literary agents about my completed
behemoth 86,000-word novel manuscript. Only, there are steps I must take first. Or else I ruin my one-and-only chance with agents: professionals who don’t take kindly to, “just kidding” or “no, really, this is my finished manuscript” emails.
In Step 1, I covered the all-important agent query letter, which is like a passport that introduces the agent to the book (with a brief synopsis) and to the author (with a list of credentials.)
For Step 2, here I (optimistically) look toward the road ahead, which hopefully includes hearing back from at least one of the agents I query. In
stalling planning, I reviewed a few old emails from writer-friends who were in the position I hope to be in soon.
One of these writer-friends received a request from an agent to read his entire manuscript, which the agent did. Her feedback on the novel manuscript was largely positive.
Then…she sent my writer-friend some questions. I will paraphrase the questions here, as I think they provide a window into the thought process of the agent.
Me, the writer, I’m thinking of securing an agent as an end–a conclusion to years of writing and revising and editing and rewriting. For the agent, signing a writer is only the beginning of the journey. As such, the agent asks the writer:
- Provide all your writing credentials in detail, including previous publications, short stories, screenplay writing, etc.
- List authors that you think have a style or write in a genre comparable to yours.
- Is there anything you could do to help promote your book, for instance contacts or friends who are writers and could provide blurbs, friends who could review, people you could leverage?
- Do you blog or have a following on Twitter, Facebook, or another social media platform?
Could I answer those questions? Mostly, I think I could.
- I’ve got some credentials under my belt, including a couple short stories published fairly recently.
- Here’s where I have to forget my humility. Genre- and subject-wise, my book compares to Snow Falling on Cedars, The Master Butchers’ Singing Club, and (more recently) Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Language- and subject-wise, my writing in general compares to Alice McDermott’s. (Of course if I were to meet any of these authors, I would faint straight away!)
- Thanks to this blog–and the writers I’ve met “reading and writing the Rust Belt”–I do think I could wrangle up a blurb or two, something I couldn’t have said last year at this time.
- And, why YES, I blog (thanks to you, followers). Yes, I’m on Facebook. A major following–not yet. But stay tuned…
What do you think of the agent’s questions? Does this make the road ahead for us would-be published authors appear any clearer? Are there any questions you’d add, if you were in an agent’s shoes?