My journey to novelist, part 2

Elevator pitch or stairway

So now I had this book that I knew millions of kids around the world would love to read, but I really had no idea how to get it on the shelves. I hadn’t thought this far ahead when I began writing. Writing a book had been my goal. Oddly, Random House hadn’t come knocking.

I attended my first book show, The Tucson Festival of Books. The crowded event was reaffirming, people still love books. Beyond the myriad of vendors and authors selling books of every type are workshops for novice and would-be writers. I fell into this category. I attended a few of the workshops, but one in particular, was both enlightening and sobering at the same time. ‘How to Get a Literary Agent’, this sounded like the missing piece of the publishing puzzle. I needed an agent.

One, myself included, would think that writing a book is the hardest part of the publishing process. Wrong! I sat there stunned, learning about queries, writing a synopsis, elevator pitches, submission rules, formatting, slush piles and rejection letters…

A show of hands revealed that most of us had a completed novel to pitch, a few had more than one manuscript ready. A solo hand raised, when the presenter asked if any of us already had an agent. She was, as of then, unpublished. I looked around the room at my fellow novices, most eager, ready to get started in the process, but some already looked beaten down and weary.

I trudged up the stairway, back into the festival wondering what I’d gotten myself into. This was a hobby. I didn’t consider myself to be a writer, just a guy who’d written something that resembled a book. However, it was not yet a book, and that had been my goal. I decided to press on. I found a used copy of the previous year’s ‘Guide to Literary Agents’ and got to work.

I picked out twenty agencies looking for middle grade fiction, which I’d learned was the category my story fit into, picked out the agent most interested in the science fiction and paranormal genres and then studied each set of submission rules.

Most wanted double spaced Times New Roman 10 pt font. Some wanted ten pages, some thirty, some three chapters of the manuscript. All wanted it pasted into the body of the email, not as an attachment. I put together a synopsis and composed individualized query letters and sent them off. Most agencies warned that it could take eight to twelve weeks for a response, so I turned my attention to a sequel to Monsters and Miracles that had been percolating in the back of my mind for a few days.

Watch for part three: Penguin, Vanity or Indie?


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