Monday, April 26, 2010

Agent submissions

I usually hate these. It's all the extra work on top of writing the novel that is hard. Each agent has their own guidelines for what they want to see, be it a query letter, a synopsis, part of the manuscript, etc. How long a part of the manuscript and what kind of query letter also varies by the agent. What also has gotten under my skin in the past is that a lot of writers only do the agent search a couple of times before they get their first agent, but this'll be round four for me.

Round one was when I was 19, when I wasn't a very good writer at all. Round two was after Clarion West when I was still decompressing from drinking from a proverbial firehose. Round three was two years ago, when I was submitting a novel with some technical merit, but very little real heart. I caught on to the fact then that this wasn't the best foot to put forward, since if I got an agent in the deal, it'd be for a kind of book I didn't really want to write. So here we go with round four.

It is amazingly un-excruciating this time around. And by un-excruciating I don't mean that it won't be soul crushing and depression inducing and make me want to cry myself to sleep some nights (hey, if there's anything you really want, your emotions get involved like this.) I'm just not finding the synopsis and query letters so hard to do this time, and I'm not sure why.

One reason might be because of all the practice I've had. Over the years I've developed a strong opinion about how to do a synopsis, and I think it's worked well for me. I have Char Peery to thank for this. She read my synopsis of Time and Eternity, which I'd written the same way I've seen other writers do a synopsis, and she pointed out that it read like a cluttered technical document, so with her help I pared it down and tightened up the central plotline and now I actually find my synopses readable. I've done enough query letters that I know the format by heart and can type them in a couple of drafts. Also, I know these skills I've obtained are working for me because my last round of submissions went really well, to be honest. With that souless little book, I corresponded with three of the first group of agents I queried.

The other reason might be that I care about the book I'm sending out. This isn't a technical exercise for me this time, an attempt to earn another credential or pad the resume, this is me applying for a job I really want. So, tonight while I blog, I'm in a good mood :-) For reasons I won't go into now, I'm off my insomnia medication for the next little while, which means I can't do long marathon writing sessions. So, to get my agent submissions out, I'm going to try to just do one or more a day. Today I managed three.

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