So, while we wait for things to "get better," how about some hopeful stuff to read? According to agent Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency, the news for debut authors isn't all bad. In a recent blog post she advises, "I would be concentrating on writing the best freaking novel you are capable of writing because lots of debuts astound the market." Read the rest here:
Author/blogger Holly Kennedy thinks we should all get a bottle of Bum Glue and get busy. [I know some of you already saw her post because I read your comments over there. I think you'll agree it's an inspiring read.] Check out the blog entry and see if I'm not telling the truth: http://author-in-the-trenches.blogspot.com/2008/11/must-have-for-serious-writers_18.html
Along with these two ladies' thoughts, I'll share some good tips I got from a writing conference not too long ago. The NYT best selling authors were generous with their tippage too, so here's a few tidbits to file away for later:
- Successful writers run the business of writing like any other -- with a business plan. Update it every six months or so, but definitely annually.
- Start and keep a perspective agent file with research notes, including who gets the big sales and large advances. Look for agents who love what you write; don't waste your time on those who don't.
- A good friend and successful author who's writing book 5 or 6 now advises using the "shotgun" approach to finding an agent. When your synopsis and query packet is as good as it can be, send it far and wide.
- When your manuscript is accepted, or while it is making the rounds, begin work on your second.
- Check the shelves of your favorite bookstore (brick & mortar, as well as online) to see what's hot in your genre. Check the acknowledgment pages while you're there to see if agents are mentioned. If so, add them to your list.
- Branding is important and should extend to your website, logo design, blog, etc.
- Follow the rules and preferences of the person(s) and place(s) to which you plan to submit. If you don't, you'll likely end up in the slush pile.
- Have a log line/hook line/tag line for your book, and one for your writing style-- a short, catchy description that will help an agent or editor grasp and remember your book. [Ex. "Ledbetter writes as if she is the love child of Wally Lamb and Dorothy Allison."]
- Your synopsis should explain what the emotion of your story is.
Okay, we all know that after five minutes of a lecture or a page of notes, our brains turn off. In the interest of mental health, I'll stop here for now.
So, how's about some tit for tat? What's the best writing, publishing or agent-finding tip you ever got?