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How to get an Agent…

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It’s been a funny old week. Funny as in odd. Some bits good, some bits fantastic and some bits terrible – to repeat, it’s been a funny old week!

The important stuff as always is family related and this week all three children have been outstanding in both their personal and school achievements. My poor old back hasn’t been outstanding as its finally let me down – crawling on all fours is not a happy memory but one that will live with me forever.

I also published my latest Book, Unhappy Ever After Girl

This is last on the list because, in the scheme of things it’s not that important. It won’t be life changing but, hopefully it will give pleasure to anyone that finds it. There’s a photo and link, but that’s not what this post is about.

Releasing  Unhappy Ever After Girl on the unsuspecting public  wasn’t quite the last thing in my list. I also received two more rejection letters.

I know – many of you will groan but, you see for me it’s the way I have to go. Writing isn’t about the money (says she who’s first cheque from Amazon US arrived today and is still lying unopened by the microwave). Writing, for me is about the stories in my head clambering to get out. Even now lying prostrate on the sofa trying to pluck up the courage to go to the kitchen to stuff more tablets down my neck all I can think about is my next story.

As a writer I want to write, but I want to write well. I also don’t want to have to spend a huge chunk of my writing time on social media socialising. I like people (I’m a nurse by trade), but I’m also a bit of a reclusive hermit type outside of work and as such it’s torture. ‘ What do I say? What do I write? Why haven’t they replied? How many xxx at the end is too many? Torture!

The latest rejection letter came yesterday and it was lovely – I should know – I’ve had a lot to compare it with! So I took courage in both hands and asked a question back, here’s the response

‘….would need to have a solid first draft ready to send to an agent as they will ask to see the whole manuscript after you submit your first three chapters. By first draft, I don’t mean the first thing that you churn out, it needs to be as ready as you can possibly make it. As close to perfect as you can make it because that is the best way to grab an agent’s attention. Draft and re-draft until you get it as good as it can be. Then send it.’

So that got me thinking… On Facebook I’m a member of some lovely writerly sites and two had questions about editors requesting money up front – that doesn’t sit well with someone like me who’s published 4 books on a budget of zero. Yes I want an agent but one that’s as excited about my work as I am, afterall I’m currently writing a bestseller!!!

My tips, bearing in mind I’m agent-less. Bear in mind I’ve spent seven years on this journey – the end is nigh….image.jpeg

  • Read, read and then read some more. Read in and out of the genre you’re writing in. Read modern, read the classics but read. Reading other people’s work is the best writing work experience you can get.
  • Write that first draft. Even if you don’t have time to write. Even if it takes you years – just get your words out. You don’t need any fancy courses, you don’t need to waste money on fancy computer programmes – all you need is something to write with and on and then something to word process it with – editors will not accept hand written.
  • Rework  your draft until you hate it and it hates you. When you think you’ve finished put it in a drawer for a few weeks and then rework it sgain.
  • Edit to within an inch of it’s life. An editor is not there to rework your mistakes. An editor wants the first three chapters (usually) polished to within an inch of its life. The way I look at it now as an a Indie  – prepare your book to the same standard you would for self publishing, only then submit.
  • Make sure your first page is outstanding, make sure your first sentence has them gripped to their seat. Make it unusual. ‘Get into the scene late, leave early’ Mary Jane Riley via Shaz’s book blog
  • Prepare your manuscript to fit the guidelines of the house you’re submitting to. So you’ll have hundreds of versions of the same book filling up your hard drive – tough!
  • Write a business letter (not double spaced). Three paragraphs, keep it short and include a killer hook. No typos, no punctuation cock-ups. Spend time in getting this letter right – there are lots of examples on the Internet.
  • Write that letter to the right agent. Look them up in the current Writers and Artists Yearbook. Read who they’ve published. Search them up on Social Media. Could you work with them is as important as them working with you. Get their name right and don’t churn out the same letter to every agent you approach – your hard drive will be cluttered with lots of useless letters – again tough!
  • Choose three at a time to sub to. Give them a month to get back to you and then approach the next on your list. If you don’t hear from them, they’re not for you. Don’t hassle them, you’re sub is one of many – just move on. Spend the time in between improving your writing by working on your next book.
  • Don’t  take rejections personally. You will at first but, if you remember the start of this post ( I do tend to ramble) bear in mind there are a lot more important things going on in your life as there are in mine.

Enjoy your scribbling…

Jenny x (now will one x suffice! #confused)