Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Road to Publication, con't. . . .

During my “Road to Publication” post on January 27th 2009, I mentioned that I’d provide some specific pointers and ask some hard questions for those looking to get published.

Believe me; I understand this sentiment and sympathize with the writer’s frustration, but once you look at the other side of the equation—what it’s like to be the gatekeeper—you can see the validity of the “query only” limitation that is often part of the submission process.

A query letter serves the purpose of letting the agent or agent’s reader know if the project is something they’re interested in pursuing; therefore, it has to be extremely well written.

Editors and agents are swamped with submissions so, imagine if you will, the office receiving 200+ manuscripts a week instead of 200+ query letters. Query letters are a necessary evil of the publishing business because the competition is so fierce.

There are many things every writer can and should do to improve her odds. Ask yourself:

• Have you edited the manuscript many, many times?
• Have you studied the rules of grammar? (You need to understand them before you can break them for effect.)
• Have you learned the industry’s conventions such as proper manuscript format?
• Has your manuscript been through an objective critique group?
• Have you hired a professional freelance editor to give you input? (Get references if you go this route.)
• Have you had a lot of readers, who are familiar with the genre you’re writing in, read the manuscript and give you feedback?
• Is the manuscript as perfect as you can possibly make it?

The Query Letter
• Have you attempted to get writing credits to include in your query letter by entering contests or publishing short stories in genre-specific magazines?
• Have you studied what should go in a query letter?
• Have you polished your query letter ruthlessly?
• Have you shared different versions of your query letter with your critique group to see which one is most effective?
• Have you studied books on querying agents? (The Sell Your Novel Toolkit by Lyons is a good one. So is a book by Kathryn Sands about making the perfect pitch.)

Selecting Perspective Agents
• Have you researched possible agents carefully?
• Do you know how to select the right agent for you?
• Have you looked through the acknowledgements pages of books similar to yours so you can determine agents who like the kind of thing your write? Oftentimes, an author will thank his or her agent in the acknowledgements.
• Have you gone to writing conferences where you can verbally pitch your book to agents?
• Check out a website called Predators and Editors that lists agents to avoid.

Acting Professional
• Have you joined the organizations relevant to the genre you’re writing in so you can become familiar with the publishing industry?
• Have you attended conferences in order to network with other writers, authors, and industry professionals?

I highly recommend that you go to Miss Snark’s website. She’s a New York literary agent. This site is no longer active, but there’s a wealth of information here. Beginning with this link, you can see how she evaluates the hook in a query. What gets her interest, etc. This is very insightful for seeing what works and what doesn’t. Here’s the link where the hook evaluation begins: Also, search this website because you’ll find a lot of useful information about the industry in general.

It takes talent, luck, and perseverance to get published. The best way to deal with the query process is to start on the next book while you’re doing it so you don’t become obsessed or depressed by the process. And you’ll be glad you have another book that’s partly done when you do get published, because once you are, you’ll have to promote the first book while you’re writing the second.

Good luck!
Kit Ehrman

Are You Planning a Kentucky Derby Party?

If so, you still have plenty of time to get ready. This year's Derby is May 4th.

I love hosting and look forward to each and every traditional holiday as an opportunity/excuse to have family and friends over, but why not add another reason to entertain . . . and party?

So, this year, I'm going to throw a Kentucky Derby party. I already did most of the research necessary when I compiled a page for my website on just such a subject, "How to Host a Kentucky Derby Party." I became interested in this party theme (and all the recipes, traditions, and resources needed) when I was researching TRIPLE CROSS, a mystery that takes place in downtown Louisville and on the backside of Churchill Downs during the two weeks leading up to the Kentucky Derby. During the research and plotting phase, I immersed myself in everything Derby and became familiar with the many Derby Festival events that take place in Louisville. You see, Derby is not some simple little sporting event, it literally transforms Louisville, and my goal was to capture that when I wrote TRIPLE CROSS.

Research is one aspect of writing that I truly love because I learn so much. Even if you never have the opportunity to visit Louisville and attend the Derby, I assure you, you will get a feeling for what it's like in the pages of TRIPLE CROSS.

TRIPLE CROSS is a fast-paced mystery that takes the reader from the backside of the racetrack to 4th Street Live! From a life-and-death struggle at the fairgrounds to an elegant Thunder party in the National City Tower. From a spectacular sunset at Riverfront Plaza to first light on Derby morning . . . to the great race itself.

This mystery would make a great hostess gift or door prize for your guests - a unique keepsake, both for Louisvillians and out-of-town guests who have yet to experience the thrill of the Derby.

Happy partying!