Information from interviews done for the Guide to Literary Agents blog, by Chuck Sambuchino
David Kazzie talks about his frustration with what he felt was a stalled writing career. An attorney by profession, he got a YouTube channel [free] and wrote and produced a video titled, “So You Want to Go to Law School.” To his surprise, it went viral. When things calmed down with that, and his writing waned yet again, he wrote another: “So You Want to Write a Novel” which also went viral. He was contacted by an agent (there were several who expressed interest) who posted the video on her agency website and after getting to know one another, she offered to assist David with the next step of his career.
Was he thinking outside the box? Sure – but we’re seeing a lot of evidence that trying new things can make all the difference.
K.M. Ruiz, author of the sci-fi novel Mind Storm, reported that it was her second book that got her seriously into the agent-search game. “Now … please understand I hate writing queries. I’m really bad at distilling a long product into a short blurb, but I did my best. At the end of summer, I queried maybe ten agents. Then I took a long holiday out of the country after not taking one for a few years.”
Before she was settled into her holiday, she got an email request for the full manuscript. Not wanting to spend her vacation worrying about it, she sent it off, shut down her computer and completely ignored it until a month and half later when the agent emailed again. They spoke by phone, and though mega excited and impressed with him, she didn’t say yes. Since her manuscript was already out with two other agents at the time, she decided to update them before making a decision. In the end, she went with the agent who’d called her. She credits him with making the manuscript even more powerful which resulted in the sale of Mind Storm.
Once you know your story is the strongest, cleanest and most powerful you can make it, be willing to query many agents to get the right one for you – and take your time – do your homework and always be professional. It really can pay off!
David Halpern, author of Journey of a UFO Investigator, has had several agents. His first draft ended up being trimmed to 250,000 words. After being rejected by all, he put it aside and went to work on another novel. That one was only 190,000 words. That book garnered agent representation, but no sale. After rewriting it to 120,000 words, David attracted his second agent, and though he noticed his writing was growing in quality and power, novel #2 didn’t sell either.
Out came Journey and it was set before the eyes of his wife, his writing group and some novelist friends. When agent #2 stopped answering emails, he decided it was time to search for agent #3. Journey was now down to a trim and powerful 88,000 words and the queries were once again sent out, but David knew this time he was shopping around a very salable manuscript. An agent called him and they met in New York City for a three-hour lunch. They worked together to polish the manuscript even further and once it was sent to publishers, only three weeks went by before an offer was made by Viking Press. David points out that being ready for the perfect agent was key to getting him.
Rejections can teach us a lot. We’re generally rejected because our “baby” isn’t quite ready yet. We have craft to learn and perfect. We need more practice, and usually need to learn to accept help and guidance from experts we might have access to. The doors WILL open when we’re really, really ready.
See you on the 31st! Until then, keep reading and writing! Nancy Q.