As a writer, once you secure an elusive, magical, Awesome Agent, you quickly forget about life PA [pre-agent]. I'm committed to inspiring writers at every step along their journeys. Therefore, this post is designed to encourage those of you who are fighting the good fight to keep on fighting it and possibly even [these next two words will confirm your belief that I'm crazy] enjoy it.
So, get on your boxing gloves and cue up the Rocky music!
My Top 10 List for Acquiring an Agent:
1) Writing is easy - NOT! [Unless you're Sarah Palin and have abandoned the governorship with the single goal of bringing in as much bacon, or in her case, moose meat, as possible. In her case, it was sinfully easy.] Writing is not a walk in the park, folks. It takes discipline, creativity, talent, and focus. You will not always be on your game, but do try to play as often as possible. DON'T GIVE UP!
2) Become a better writer - butt in chair. This should be obvious, but it doesn't matter if you're writing you're first novel or are Stephen King, there's ALWAYS room for improvement. [I lied. SK burst from the womb as pure perfection.] And, of course, read. All great writers are voracious readers. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!
3) Don't be afraid to step off the ledge into the unknown. Writing - especially a first draft - is an act of faith. Trust in yourself and the process. Believe in your muse. [Remember how you used to believe in Santa and the Tooth Fairy? It's like that, only real.] HAVE FAITH!
4) Edit your work to within an inch of its life. Editing is the biggest part of the writing process. Get out your fine tooth comb and make sure you yank out all the knots. [TRUTH: There will always be knots. Your future agent and editor will make sure to point them out!] WRITING IS REWRITING!
5) Get feedback. Once you've got what you think is a viable piece of completed work, let others read it. Listen closely to what they say works and doesn't work, but only make the changes that ring true to you. [If Stephen King is one of your beta readers, you're golden. If Sarah Palin is, you may want to take up hunting moose for a living.] LISTEN TO OTHERS, BUT ALWAYS TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS!
6) Keep writing. Whether it's a blog, a journal, or another project, always keep your writing chops up. As a writer, writing needs to be a natural part of your life - as natural as getting bi-weekly manis and pedis and monthly root colorings. WRITERS WRITE!
7) Build a platform. If you're a non-fiction writer, this is a given. But even for fiction writers, it's good to start developing an audience of people who admire and enjoy your writing. These people may also prove to be some of the first to buy your book and help spread the word. Twitter and a blog are great ways to do this. The writing community on Twitter is extraordinary, and having your own blog is a great way to flex your writing muscle and build an audience at the same time. If you're not sure how to get started on Twitter, just follow me (see cute little blue birdie in sidebar) and follow my lists of agents/pub folks and writers. (Let me know if you have questions.) DON'T BE AFRAID TO STRUT YOUR STUFF!
8) Don't settle. Once you've got what you feel is a shimmering, finished novel, you need to find the perfect person to represent it; i.e., the person who "gets" your writing and adores it. Notice I didn't say, YOU NEED TO FIND ANYONE WITH A PULSE WILLING TO REPRESENT YOU! It's easy to have that attitude, but give yourself more credit. Finding the "right" agent for you is akin to dating. Don't offer marriage to the first hottie that comes along. [Unless it's love at first sight.] BE PICKY! In order to find your Prince or Princess Charming, you need to...
9) Research agents as if your life depended on it. We modern writers are lucky in that we have the best research at our fingertips. Getting to "know" agents on Twitter is one form of research. DO YOUR HOMEWORK!
Here are three of my personal favorite websites:
Publisher's Marketplace : There is a small monthly fee, but it is SO worth it. Most current deals are listed here and you can look up individual agents and see their recent sales, etc. They've also got great articles on all things publishing. It's an invaluable tool.
Agent Query: Simply fabulous. Look up an agent and see what genres they're interested in. You can also sort by genre, which is what I did while researching which agents to query.
QueryTracker: Love this site. Detailed info on agents PLUS comments from writers on things like turnaround times and opinions of the agents. You can also track your queries there and read about inspiring Success Stories. Here's mine.
10) Enjoy yourself! This is the path you've chosen, so embrace it. Don't be afraid to laugh at yourself [and sometimes your writing] and smile a lot. Like most things in life, writing is a choice, and a noble one. Expressing your creativity in the world is a gift not everyone is lucky enough to receive. Be grateful for your talents and the opportunities present in life. IF YOU LOVE WHAT YOU DO, YOU ARE ALREADY SUCCESSFUL!
So, that's it folks. Please let me know where you are along your path, and never forget to keep fighting the good fight! [Cliches rule.]
IN OTHER NEWS:
On a totally different note, my son, Ethan, went to his senior prom with his beautiful girlfriend, Meghan, on Saturday. Here are a few pics including one of me and my "baby."