Thoughts on finding an agent

I finished another (not the final) read-though and revision of Wine Bottles and Broomsticks yesterday, so naturally, I’ve started the process of researching agents and agencies who might be interested in what I’ve got. My first reaction of this process is that it’s a soul-crushing experience.

I’ve only gotten as far as starting a list of agents to query once I’m ready. The best thing I can say about it thus far is that every agent is pretty clear about the stuff they’re interested in. The less awesome part is that I don’t see how my particular book is going to fit in. Not only that, I anticipate being involved in the process of research, querying, not hearing back (standard procedure), and fretting for a good long while.

The query letter also has me worried. As a hiring manager for a number of years, I know that the cover letter makes all the difference in hiring and even a well-written one can suck. Furthermore, I also know that a generic cover-letter doesn’t do anyone any favors. I expect query letters more or less work the same. After all, the query letter is only an application to have your work looked at. Writing an individualized query to speak to the specific stated interests of various agents could take two or three days each. To put a cherry on that sundae, I’ve got no more than a handful of sentences to sell the idea of the book, so they go on to read the sample (assuming they’ve requested one), and then hope that all of those things get mefrom ‘nope, boring’ to ‘go on…’

The bottom line is that even though I’ve got quite enough work left to on the manuscript, there’s a lot more work to be done in trying to get the thing sold. A lot of work. I don’t mind work, but I have no idea what to expect or how best to approach this, so the mountain looks a lot higher. On the bright side, I’ve got a day-job, so yay for that.

On a break

This week, I’m headed off for a break. It’s a writing break, a work break, and an at-home stuff break. My family and I are hopping on an airplane tonight (a few hours) to head off to LA (Yes, Disneyland). We’ve never all been on a vacation together, the closest we’ve gotten is a trip down to Seward or that one time we went to Fairbanks for a weekend. 

Normally, the airplane is a great place to write, it’s one of the few places where the distraction IS writing. Hotel rooms are also particularly productive, I mean, what else would I do? Last couple of work trips I spent my hotel and airplane time knocking out about half of Wine Bottles and Broomsticks. That’s even after dinner with co-workers and talking with the wife on the phone. This isn’t that sort of trip though. I’ve got the kids with me so there will be those distractions, plus I’m flying late-night flights there and back. I’m not going to have the energy to be creative or productive in any meaningful sense. 

At the moment, most of what I’m working on is line edits and various bits of polishing, not an awful lot of content creation going on anyhow. By taking a break like this, I’m hoping that when I come back, after I get a bit of sleep, I’ll be able to focus on not only editing book 1 of the Rick Basket stories, Wine Bottles and Broomsticks, but I’ll be able to start seriously thinking about plot details and outlines for the second book. I think a good break to absorb some of the real world will do wonders for my created world and make sure I stay excited about the project. 

In any case, I’m sure I’ll be all over Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook during my time off, so if you’re wondering what sort of trouble I’m getting in to, there will be a full-public accounting of that. Except for the moments where I’m getting told to ‘put that damn phone away.’

Agents and Indies and Self-publishing oh-my!


As I patiently move through line edits and more rounds of read-throughs of Wine Bottles and Broomsticks and begin seriously plotting the second book in the Rick Basket series, rather a lot of my mental energy is being wasted on the question ‘what comes next?’ I mean, after final revisions and copy-editing and things. I’ve thought I’d been to this point before, but not really. This time though, I really am. If all goes well I’ll be sitting with a full draft in a few weeks.

Obviously, I really want to get this thing published, you know, like a regular book – but HOW?

It seems like every writer out there has a completely different and thoroughly justifiable position on this.

The most promising initial path I’ve got for this project and where I want to take it is to try and connect with an agent. Of course, I’m completely unknown, don’t have any proven track record of selling books or meeting deadlines. Not only that, I’ve got to find a person I can trust and works in good faith and also won’t deadbeat me. It’s scary and, I suspect, very hard.

Another path, the sort of knee-jerk path, it seems, is to just start firing the manuscript off to various publishing houses. I have serious doubts I’d even manage to get read, let alone get signed. To make it worse, if I do manage to get a contract, I’m likely as not to screw it up and kill the project before it really gets off the ground. It’s my biggest fear in taking the next step here, actually. I like writing these characters and I want to keep doing that. It would really suck for me if I got derailed because of my own stupidity.

The last approach is self-publishing – a highly popular and sometimes successful way to go. The problem is that I don’t have much time and I certainly don’t have a lot of cash, so while I could self-publish, the amount of advertising I could do is pretty minimal. This, actually, doesn’t help either. It’ll be out there, sure, but I won’t be able to tell people who actually want to hear it’s out there that it is. Plus, and this is an ego thing, I won’t be able to walk into Barnes and Noble or the local indie store and find it on the shelf.

So, here I sit, heartburn chewing up my insides staring cross-eyed at a manuscript trying to viciously eliminate passive voice and unnecessary dialogue tags while stretching my plot-holes into compelling story that gets me over the 80K mark (77.6K at last count). Sigh – Any agents out there want to take a look? No? Well, had to ask.

photo credit: The Printing Press via photopin (license)