Last night was a success, other than writing my post I did not do any work on my book, and I managed to do very minimal thinking about it. WooHoo! But alas it was short-lived as I did do some work on my query this morning. I am happy to say that it’s getting substantially better with each edit. Every time I work on it I bring it all together just a little tighter, and sometimes even manage to shorten it up. I am well under a single page now, and in total running at about 340 words. I know they suggest keeping it around 250 but most agency’s request a single page, and since I’m well within that margin I’m not too worried about it.
In other news, one of the many blogs I follow: Nathan Bransford had a great post yesterday, that will be recurring every week. He is going to create a post every Monday requesting either the first page of your work in progress or your query letter. The first person to post it in the comments section is going to receive a free critique of their posted work. Now you’ll have to be quick with the keyboard (or mouse) as far as copy and pasting, but what an amazing idea. A first hand critique from an ACTUAL literary agent. To see the first edition that he issued today, click HERE.
I think it’s a great, and although it’s only the first page of your book, you get an inside look at what he, as an agent, specifically looks for (and I’m sure other agents have similar standards) when reviewing a query and/or sample pages. Take that page and critique and apply it to your whole book, it can only get better! It’s a great tool for writers, and if you don’t already follow his blog I must say; it holds a wealth of information to help you in the process of writing and getting published. I know it personally has improved my manuscript, synopsis, and query, not to mention the great forums available on the site. You can get first hand information and critiques from other aspiring and published writers on excerpts from your novel, your synopsis or even your query. What’s not to like?
Although the help and information is there for the taking, it doesn’t in any way guarantees success, but it helps us get that one step closer. A fresh set of eyes, from someone else who is going through the same thing as us can’t be a bad thing. And learning as much as you can about the industry does nothing except help YOU! As an aspiring author the one thing I’ve found I can’t have enough of, is knowledge. The more I have, the better I write. The more research I do, the more I understand how the publishing world works. Its processes and how agents select the work they’ll represent.
In the end this can only benefit me. There is no downside (as far as I can tell) to being knowledgeable about the industry. I know how to look for an agent, the best sources to find information about them, and also how to make sure I choose the right one. After all, just getting an agent isn’t good enough – at least not for me. I need to know that the person I’m working with has a passion and a vision for my novel, and hopefully one similar to mine. An agent is someone who will work with me through the ups and downs of the publication process, why wouldn’t I want one that I work well with and can build a great relationship with?
From perfecting your craft (aside from practice) and/or finding an agent, what are the best tools you have at your disposal? A book, a website, or maybe a critique group? What works best for you?