Saturday, December 24, 2011

Why You Should Take A Query Letter Seriously

Once you’ve found some agents or publishing houses that you think would be interested in your novel, you can use your synopsis to write an engaging query letter. I’d recommend writing one great query letter you save as the template but read about each agent’s specifications and adjusting to each agent before sending out the letters. This article gives a good template and awesome examples on how to write the standard query letter and why it’s foolish to “try something new” when writing query letters. This next blog post is by Nathan Bransford, a man who was a literary agent for a number of years as well as having had a child’s book published so he knows the business. He also gives a lot of resources on agents and practical ideas for taking a lot of stress out of the process. Here is a great blog post by Nathan on what to know about your rights as an author before sign anything. (Sorry, this doesn’t quite go here, but it is something you should know if an agent gets back to you about your novel.) Query Shark is an interesting blog where you can send in a query letter to be critiqued in public or can read other letters be honestly critiqued by an actual agent.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Is a Literary Agent Right for You?

Now that you’ve written your synopsis, you need to decide if you want an agent or not. There are a number of pros and cons for choosing an agent or not. The agent is a good thing because knowing the publishing business and who would likely buy what is their business, it’s how they get paid so they are usually good at it. There are also a number of large publishing houses that will no longer take submissions by authors that aren’t represented by literary agents. However, there are a number of dishonest agents who will sign you to a deal that will be much more beneficial to them than the author or that agree to represent a book for a fee but never plan to send that book to publishers. There are a lot of horror stories about agents but literary agents are often very good helps and can open a lot of doors unrepresented authors can’t touch.

Once you’ve decided you want an agent, you need to research which agents will most likely enjoy your book (genre, previous books…) Each agent wants specific things and possibly different formats. If you’ve decided that you don’t want an agent, you have to do the same research on publishing companies.

As an unpublished author, I can’t give you proven advice on how to pick an agent but I found a number of sites that can give proven advice and help finding good literary agents for science fiction writers.

As an ex-agent, Nathan Bransford has an interesting perspective on the publishing community and what literary agents are looking for in a query letter and a book.

Chuck Sambuchino’s blog is a guide to literary agents and their blogs or articles with a focus on new agents with less on their plates who are more open to new writers than some of the ones in the business that already have a lot of clients to keep up with.

SFWA is the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America website and an excellent resource for and science fiction or fantasy writer. This is an article on the pros and cons of literary agents as well as how to choose a good one that will actually do the work needed to make your novel a success.

WEBook is a writing community and this article is a list of a few agents looking for science fiction and fantasy writers.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Why a Synopsis?

Once your story is perfect, or at least awesome, you need to write a synopsis of your book. More than a summary, your synopsis is the entire story in a few pages. (I originally read that a page in the synopsis for every twenty-five pages in your book. Although that is a good way to narrow down the plot points, the two articles I like about writing a synopsis recommend fewer pages so the reader doesn’t get bored. Remember that publishers, editors, and agents read hundreds of letters and synopsis a month and yours needs to be just right to get a second look.) It needs to grab the readers attention and enthrall them in just a few pages. That’s tough and here are two articles (here and here) to help you figure out how to make your synopsis exactly what publishers are looking for.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

How To Prepare To Publish Your Novel

You’ve written your novel and you think it’s ready for the publisher. Now what?

You could just print off a lot of copies, put the full novel in envelopes, and send them to publishing houses, hoping the publishers will love the novel as much as you do. However, if you do it that way, every single one of your copies will be thrown in the trash unopened. As with any business, there is the proper way to do things and the sloppy way to do things. Sending the full novel straight to publishers is the sloppy way The proper way to do things is in small bits. First you make sure your story is perfect, which includes letting others read and critique it. (One great site for hopeful authors to be read by other writers who know about technique and style, and tone that publishers will look for is

One thing to remember before you start sending out letters is that publishers and agents often ask for a few sample chapters before they agree to publish your novel or represent you. With that in mind, be sure that your first three chapters are great, even if you continue to tweak the later chapters.