Can you describe yourself in one sentence?

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I have learned a great deal about the writing world as I have begun to emerge myself in my quest to find a literary agent.  Each agent has unique specifications for sending a query and a fledgling author is bound to follow those guidelines or run the risk of having their submission thrown into the slush pile.

Many agents follow a similar model for submissions so it becomes a less daunting task as time goes on, but then you get the agent who asks you to sum up your manuscript in one sentence.  For me, that is a very arduous task.  There are so many twists and turns to my story that it is extremely difficult to craft one sentence that can convey every nuance of the story.

Imagine that you are in a job interview and you are asked to describe yourself in one sentence.  Can you do it?  Or are there so many different facets to you that coming up with one line to describe all of those things is impossible?

While I gave my all to put together a sentence that did its best to describe my novel, I know I did not do my story justice.  My book requires much more than just one sentence to fully illustrate its depth.  After I wrote that sentence, I felt like a test car that had crashed into the wall before reaching its maximum speed.

I have been more careful in selecting agents who are willing to allow me to give much more insight into my novel than just one sentence.  Even sending the first three chapters does not truly allow the people who hold my future in their hands enough material to see what the story truly has in store for them.  I can only  hope that they see enough bait to make them swim closer to the hook and take a full bite.  I can promise, they will be reeled in if they take the chance!

Putting yourself out there

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Trying to find a literary agent is much like putting yourself on an internet dating site.  You spend a great deal of time stressing over how to describe yourself and your work without sounding obnoxiously confident but you have to nail that very fine line between determination and arrogance without exaggerating either of those things.  Contrary to internet dating, that agent is only looking for one very specific thing and if you don’t have it, they move on.

I have never been comfortable being the person to profess my strengths.  I can write for days about subjects that have nothing to do with me, but words vanish as soon as I have to point them in my direction.  I am extremely happy with the final product of my first novel and so are my Beta readers.  I want nothing more than to find an agent or a publisher who believes in it as much as I do.  But that process is much more daunting than staring at that first blank page, knowing that you have to string together over 80,000 words in an articulate and entertaining way.

Agents and publishers who are not interested in your work will not dangle bait in the water to see if you bite.  They are more than willing to move on to the next pond because there are so many fish and so few anglers.  An agent can’t even cast a line into a body of water without a frenzy of fish ready to fight to the death for the rare hook that shines in the distance.  In a sea of Piranhas, I feel like I am the poor carrion waiting at the bottom to be consumed by the predatory beasts with the sharper teeth.

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But there is always hope.  I know that one day, those Piranhas will have distracted themselves by something very shiny and I will be in the right spot in the pond at the right time, staring at a hook that was meant to catch only me.  And like every angler who is waiting for the “big one” knows, it’s all about patience.

 

The positives in a negative

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My foray into finding a literary agent did not begin without some sage advice from some wonderful people I have met through this blog.  Thankfully their wisdom from having pounded this same pavement on which I now find myself more than prepared me for the long road ahead.

After sending out my first query letters on Sunday, I received my first (anticipated) rejection letter on Monday.  I thought I would feel more disheartened but his response was so much more positive than I thought it would be.

My story is not what he is currently seeking – understandable (although his bio included mystery and suspense in the genres he looks for).  His decision was also based on his current workload and the nature of the material he is presently representing.  He did not say my idea wasn’t worth selling.  He did not say he was not impressed by the first chapter.  And he did not say this book will never see the shelves of a book store.

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What he did say was “I absolutely think you should keep looking for representation” and he ended with “Very best of luck”.   For a rejection letter, it scored high in marks for encouragement and affirmation.

This is my first step in a journey of at least a thousand steps.  I am mentally prepared for the thumbs down from several agencies, it’s the nature of the business.  And while I truly wish to publish traditionally, there is always the route of self-publishing if push comes to shove.

My dream is to have my book published and, one way or another, I’m going to make that happen.

 

 

You can’t win if you don’t play

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While this subject line generally makes me think of the lottery pool, it has taken on a much bigger meaning for me today.  I’m sure I have made you all painfully aware of the fact that I finally finished writing my first novel.  Book number two is in the works and the idea for number three is a shimmering light in the distance.

I thought that the actual writing of the book was going to be the hardest part.  And while it was a painstaking process, never having attempted to write a book before, the writing itself was a reward.  The hardest part is convincing yourself that someone else may find your words exciting enough to take you on as a client and help to get you published.

I spent my day off today, a beautiful, sunny day, bound to my couch to finish editing my book for grammatical oversights and story continuity.  I was just as excited to read the ending as if I were a first time reader and that got me even more excited.  I was excited enough to send my first two query emails to potential agents…..and now I feel nauseous.

But like that lottery pool, you can’t win if you don’t play.  I will never get published if I don’t try, and according to Yoda, there is no try, only do.  So I did.

Now I can only hope that some unsuspecting agent finds an email from a small town Canadian girl with big ideas and gets just as excited to read it as I was to write it.

The feeling came rushing back

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Last year, I made the courageous decision to let two of the guests at the lodge read the first three chapters of my novel.  It was a large hurdle for me to jump, to trust my writing enough let them read it and, as I sat waiting to hear back from them, I was concerned that their critique may destroy the hope I had for my book.  I was dead wrong and I wrote about it here.

That same couple checked back into the lodge yesterday for their annual “Shammy” vacation.  I was delighted to see them again and we embraced like we have known each other for decades.  We had been corresponding by email over the winter and they were two of the people at the top of my list to share my news once I had finished writing the book.

As she began to leaf through the 8 1/2 by 11 pages, I watched her brow furrow.  She agreed with the changes that I had made in red ink but I sensed there was an underlying urge in her to be wielding the same red pen she had used last year.  Instead, she set the pages down on her lap and seemed so overjoyed that I had finished my work in progress.  She was thrilled and her joy seeped into me.  I was elated.  The excitement I had felt after finishing the writing now came flooding back and the two of us acted like we had just won the lottery.

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I have been dutifully editing my novel for egregious grammatical oversights as well as making the story flow as well as it should so the reader is not lost at the beginning of any of the chapters.  I plan to spend all of my free time over the next week finishing the revisions and beginning the hunt for an agent.  Game on!