All Star Week

That is right folks. I have declared this week to be all star week. I will be sending out my next wave of queries to the all stars of literary agents. The famous blogging agents. You know ’em, you love ’em you read their blogs religiously (if you are an aspiring writer anyway). This week I am sending queries to the following big name agents:

Janet Reid the infamous query shark herself

Nathan Bransford

Jonathan Lyons

Kristen Nelson

And I would send one to Rachelle Gardner but she isn’t interested in Science Fiction and Fantasy.

These wonderful people write fantastic blogs. Every writer should subscribe to them. They have helped me understand the publishing industry and I am excited about sending them queries. I don’t really expect to get much back. These people are the rock stars of the aspiring writer world (Janet Reid’s line at BEA Pitch Slam was at least twenty miles long) and get bombarded with queries and attention. I don’t know if my query is good enough to stand out. I do know that I owe these people a shot at my book, after all the help they have given me.

Tchuss

Lystra

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And the beat goes on.

So, my request for full wasn’t an exclusive request for full so after much debating I am going to continue to send out queries. This was a hard decision for me. I want to honor the agent who first sent me the request but I have to be realistic. This is a say no, ask questions later type industry. Odds are that I will get a rejection on my MS so I have to keep playing the field until I get a solid strike, if I don’t this could be up to twelve weeks of wasted time.

So I plan on sending out my next wave of queries this week. I am shooting for around six queries a month. My hope is that if I get any feedback I can use it and not have to re-query anyone.

Tchuss

Lystra

Published in: on February 1, 2010 at 4:20 pm  Comments Off on And the beat goes on.  
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Ready to Submit

Here is a run down of my life since Saturday.

Saturday- Recieve request for manuscript. Happy dance. Call family and friends. More happy dancing.

Sunday- Printed manuscript. bought red pencil and a starbucks (which I intend to write off if I get published.) Selected Warren Zevon on the iPhone, hit shuffle then play. Started reading manuscript to make sure it was totally ready for submission. Read until 10:00 pm

Monday- Went to work, came home read until 10:00 pm

Tuesday- Went to work, came home and finished reading. Started converting red pencil marks into digital form. Worked until 9:00 pm…passed out.

Wednesday- Finished correcting manuscript. Wrote new synopsis (Agent wanted a shorter one.) Re-wrote Bio. Reformated everything to agent’s very detailed specificatitions. Composed email to send it. Paused.

I am not sending it until tomorrow morning.

Giving myself a good night’s sleep and fresh eyes to look at the synopsis and bio one more time before I send it off.

Put Warren Zevon on the iPhone, select Keep Me in Your Heart, hit play.

Good Night.

Lystra

ps New bio is on the about lystra page if you want to read it.

Done reading my MS

Meanwhile I finished re-reading my MS for submission. There is a world of difference between thinking you are ready for submission and knowing you have to submit. Reading my MS, knowing that an agent is going to be reading it shortly put a whole new light on my work.

I enjoyed reading my MS. It has been a long time since I’ve just sat down and read it, so I saw it in a different light than before. I liked it. No, I loved it. I am extremely proud of it. A novel is more work than anyone who hasn’t written one knows. A novelist has a lot to think about while he is writting. He has to have more than just the scene he is writing in his head. He has to work with the pacing and the plot for the entire novel in each sentence he writes. He has to be aware of the larger story, even when writing the smallest parts. Reading my story after so long made me realize that I accomplished that goal. The story works well, the plot unfolds with just the right amounts of twists to keep the reader guessing. That is no mean task. I finished reading my MS last night and had to smile. It was a lot of work, but a job well done.

Now if I can just make somebody in the publishing industry to see that.

Tchuss

Lystra

Another Rejection

Jennifer Jackson sent me a really nice rejection letter. Much better than the first one, which simply said: Not interested thanks. Jennifer said that she wasn’t sure the book was for her and wished me good luck finding representation. Very nice. 

It helps that I have somebody interested to blunt the blow.

Printing it out and putting it in the file. Definately a keeper.

Tchuss

Lystra

Published in: on January 26, 2010 at 11:23 am  Comments Off on Another Rejection  
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Snicker-Snack

I received my first rejection letter yesterday. Bummer. The major problem with my current querying method is that I am really, really attached to the agents I am sending my query to. By the time I am done researching them I feel like I know them. I have read their bios, subscribed to and read their blogs and even followed them on Twitter. So it hurts a little bit more than some random stranger rejecting you.

Still, rejection is just a part of writing. A major part. I was almost excited about getting my first rejection letter…almost. I feel like it is a rite of passage that all writers must endure. I decided this morning to use the rejection to inspire me instead of depress me.

With that inspiration supercharging me I decided to tackle the biggest problem with my manuscript. It is too long. 125,000 words is too long for a first novel. I read it all over the place, nearly every blogging agent has posted about word count somewhere or another. All of them say the maximum is 120,000, several even put it down to 100,000. I decided I needed to get my MS down below 120k. That meant cutting 5,000 words (approximately 20 pages) off my story. That is a lot. I have been loath to do this because in order to cut that many words I would have to cut entire scenes. I have already gone through my MS to remove unnecessary adjectives, redundant descriptions, or any other little adjustments I could make. That wasn’t enough to get my word count down.

So this morning I went all Lizzie Borden on my MS. I pulled out my vorpal sword and went snicker snack. Hacking off scenes like a madman, I discovered that it was as bad as I thought it would be. After a few bloody moments I had a new and improved shorter manuscript. I am now at 118k! For those of you who have read my manuscript, don’t despair, I still have the original version (Saved As “Midnight in Vegas-the Director’s Cut”) just in case. I still like my longer version better than the shorter version but I think the shorter version still works and is more attractive to agents and publishers.

My big problem now is to find a reader who hasn’t read the original to tell me if the story still works. Anyone who has read it will automatically fill in the missing scenes and won’t have any questions on why this or that happened.

I need a fresh reader who has no idea what they are missing.

I need a fast reader who can get me some feedback quick so I can modify my query and submit my leaner and meaner MS.

Any volunteers?

Tchuss

Lystra

Published in: on January 23, 2010 at 6:58 pm  Comments Off on Snicker-Snack  
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The scene in my head

Jennifer Jackson tossed her third Starbucks into the trash as she got into the elevator. Her hands were barely shaking anymore as she hit the button for her floor. Today is the day she thought grimly, the elevator lurching into motion made her jump a little. She had stopped taking query letters until January 15, 2010 and today was that day. She was sure when she got into her office the InBox would be full of hopeful letters sent by desperate fools. Her job was to sift through the muck and pull out the nuggets of talent and skill then process the raw ore into fine pieces of jewelry for the world to observe and enjoy. The only problem was that the nuggets were rarer than gold.

The elevator dinged and Jennifer jumped, she took a Red Bull from her purse and popped the top, she still wasn’t ready. Guzzling the can she walked into the front office of the Donald Maass Literary agency. Donald was there waiting for her. He was always the first one in the office.

“Well, it’s begun.” He smiled and handed her a coffee.

Jennifer took a deep drink before responding. “How bad is it?”

“Hundreds, maybe thousands, I lost count.”

Jennifer made a face. “Really?”

“Afraid so.” Donald took the now empty coffee cup from Jennifer’s trembling hands and replaced it with a fresh one.

“Anything good?” She asked hopefully.

“Actually, yes, the first one you received. I liked it. You should read it.”

“The first one Donald?”

“Sent at the stroke of midnight, and the funny thing is I’ve met the author.”

“When?”

“At BEA last year. You know I usually don’t remember specific people from the thousands I meet at conventions each year, but I liked this guy. He came off really smart and funny too. I am happy to see he got his synopsis done. Of course I only talked to him for about five seconds but hey, some people stand out.”

“Well, I’ll have to read that one first.” Jennifer smiled. Perhaps today wasn’t going to be so bad after all.

I sent Jennifer Jackson a query last night at midnight her time. I hope reality matches what is going on in my head. I might be pushing it with Donald Maass remembering me, but who knows.

Tchuss

Lystra

Some grim statistics and some boggling information

I am doing my homework and researching agents and I stumbled across a disturbing post by literary Agent Jennifer Jackson. Jennifer works for Donald Maass Literary Agency and represents some great authors (Jim Butcher). She isn’t currently accepting queries but I intend to send her one once she starts again. In her post she lists her query stats for 2009. She received 8004 queries last year and request more information from 47 of them. That’s right 1 in 170, that is long, long, long odds. Of course the odds for drawing a pair of aces as hole cards in Texas Hold’Em is 1 in 210 and I have seen pocket rockets more than once so don’t lose heart. There are a lot of other factors to consider as well, this isn’t putting a quarter in a slot machine and hoping for triple sevens. The agent doesn’t randomly choose which queries she answers it is about what she is interested in. Still, it is scary seeing the numbers.

The astonishing part of her post is that of the 47 that garnered the prestigious request for more information, 3 did not respond. Can you believe that? Why even bother going through all the pain, suffering and heartache if you’re just going to ignore responses. In a subsequent post Jennifer theorized why someone wouldn’t respond, but I can’t believe someone wouldn’t at least send a message detailing why they couldn’t or wouldn’t respond. Rest assured I will respond instantly to anyone who contacts me. Even if I’m trapped under a bus, I’ll have someone bring me my laptop to reply to the email.

This wacky publishing business really shows how crazy a world we live in. I just wanted to share.

Tchuss

Lystra

Published in: on January 13, 2010 at 10:40 pm  Comments Off on Some grim statistics and some boggling information  
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I have seen the elephant

In Victorian England the British Empire spanned the entire globe. It was so expansive that the Brits bragged that the sun never set on the British Empire, and it was true, there were colonies and commonwealths on every continent. No matter what the hour, it was daylight somewhere in the vast empire. During that time, the empire’s most unruly and combative subjects were found in Africa, India, and Asia. Veteran British soldiers were said to have “Seen the elephant.” because if they had gone into battle it was more likely than not that they had done so in a place which, quite simply, had elephants. Today the term is more loosely used to describe any veteran of any endeavor.

After Writers Digest’s BEA Writers Convention, I can say without a moment’s hesitation that I have seen the elephant and what an ugly beast it is.

I have to say on the whole the convention was great. Karin Slaughter was an awesome keynote speaker, the breakout sessions and seminars were informative and fun, the lunch speaker was great, and the pitch slam was exactly what I thought it was going to be.

At a safe distance any elephant can seem charming. Everybody loves elephants, in a zoo, behind a sturdy fence, maybe even a moat. Do you dare climb over that fence, swim that moat and cavort with the great beasts up close and personal? I did, and I’ll tell you what I saw.

In my next couple of posts.

And Here Comes the Pitch

So obviously the moment we’ve all been waiting for is fast approaching. I am going to sit down with as many agents as I can and pitch my novel Midnight In Vegas. The poor agents are being forced at gunpoint to listen to the pitches of possibly hundreds of desperate writers such as myself. This is the infamous BEA pitch slam. Writers and agents crowded together into a hot room for an uncomfortable hour of pure selling. The neophyte writers sacrificing themselves en masse on the bourbon stained altars of the seasoned veterans of the publishing world.

At least that is how it goes down in my imagination. I have no idea what it is really going to be like. It looks like it could be an unadulterated orgy of ideas and I am, how you say, a wirgin? (Gotcha) I’ve never pitched my book to anybody. Now I am signed up for the biggest manage-a-minds in the industry.

How do you prepare for that???

  • Go over my story in my head. Over and Over and Over again. –check
  • Write down key points I need to cover in my Pitch. -check
  • Read every blog ever written about pitching, both by agents and authors. –check
  • Brush teeth. – check (never hurts to start early)
  • Work on roguish yet authorial look in bathroom mirror every morning. – check
  • Make super cool personal business cards with all contact info. -check

Things that I might do, or that I am not sure I should do, or really don’t want to do.

  • Write down and memorize a pitch. While that appeals to paranoid little voice in the back of my head, I don’t think I want to do that. I have some notes and highlights jotted down but I don’t want to sound robotic or rehearsed and I am a very extemporaneous type of speaker anyway.
  • Go Naked. If there is one way to be sure they’ll remember me, that’d be it. Obvious drawbacks. (To any agents or publishers who might read this, I am joking, It’s going to be ok, really. Put the phone down, don’t cancel the trip, please, I’ll be good. I really want to talk to you.)
  • Get a haircut- For real this time. I think I need something more roguish, or authorial. I alternate on which I need every morning.
  • Pack a couple of copies of my manuscript. As everyone with a complete manuscript knows, the bastards are heavy, but I don’t want to be caught flat footed if somebody asks for a full? From what I have seen and read I don’t think that they will. Best case; they’ll wait for me to email or mail it to them.
  • Burn full ms on to a couple of thumb drives. Could solve the fantasy problem of having someone wanting to read me right away. But those cost money and I am already spending too much of that.

 

Anybody else have any suggestion or comments? Am I missing anything?

Tchuss

-Lystra