This came to a screeching halt last Sunday afternoon when I realized how many days and months had vanished . . . it was time to get back on track.
Self-discipline is a writer's key to success! We must be as passionate in our self-discipline as we are in our writing! It doesn't come easy, but it can be attained with practice. I must stay focused!
The future of your book is in the hands of the person who knows more about it . . . cares more about it . . . and will benefit more from it than anyone else . . . you!
Michael Larsen, How to Write a Book Proposal
My initial blog on Agents was posted June 19th, so let me continue . . .
At first, I was excited to be searching for an agent after spending 16 years writing my memoir. Once the novelty wore off, I was able to look at the process more clearly and uncover key data . . .
- Most agents want clients with the ability to produce more than one book stating they represent careers . . . not books.
- If your writing focuses on a particular area . . . you may benefit by submitting your work directly to a small or specialized press. Small presses often give greater attention to the writer with editorial help and marketing expertise.
An exciting find for my memoir . . . On Friday, I came across an agent who has worked in the publishing business since 1979, first as an editor at W.W. Norton. There she published DEAR AMERICA: Letters Home From Vietnam, which became an Emmy award-winning documentary. This is the first agent I've found who was passionate about my subject. Will my query letter ignite this flame again? Only time will tell. This weekend I plan to redraft my query for submission. All prayers are welcome . . .
What are agents really looking for?
- Agents can only spend a minute at most reading your query letter . . . explain what you want them to know IMMEDIATELY. They want to be taken by SURPRISE. Be surprising!
- Fiction - Agents look for a track record. Are you committed to your craft and building an audience?
- Memoir is a tricky genre. Agents look for two main things: a UNIQUE story and GREAT writing. Memoirs should read like novels. They should have suspense, conflict, emotion, character development, dialogue and narrative throughout. Why will people be interested in you?
- Why are you qualified to write what you wrote and how does it DIFFER from what's already been published on this topic?
- Agents want to see a MARKETING PLAN. What the author can really do that will sell the book, not wishful thinking.
- It's not rude to ask for more detailed feedback following a rejection . . . but be POLITE.
- "We like storytelling defined - by its extraordinary power to resonate universally on a deeply emotional level."
- "We seek strong new voices in fiction and nonfiction and are fiercely dedicated to our authors."
- "Narrative nonfiction - projects that simply teach me something new about the greater world and society around us."
- "Accomplished storytellers with their own distinct voice, who are able to create psychological conflict with their narrative."
- "Projects that tackle big topics with an unusual approach."
- "An analysis of why your proposed book is different and better than the competition is essential."
The 34th Annual Family Reunion . . .
I leave for Ohio on Thursday at 8:05 a.m. This is where I grew up . . . until my husband was transferred to California. Yipee!! I escaped the SNOW!
The announcement displays a full-color group photo with my mother, the matriarch of our family, seated in a folding chair surrounded by grinning faces and a sea of children at her feet. 42 attended last year. These are my roots, where I feel safe in times of trouble. Though we may not always agree, we're a family who cares with unconditional love.
At 94, my mom still lives at home with the help of a caregiver five mornings a week. Her mind is sharp as any of you, though her body grows weak. She may use a walker, but every year she makes over 100 cream puffs from scratch for "her family." This is tradition.
I look forward to this trip back in time, surrounded by family and friends, reliving tales of when we were young. Two weeks brimming with lots of love, lots of laughter and lots of food. These times I truly miss . . . until I remember the SNOW!
Lesson learned . . . my two cents
"We meet no ordinary people in our lives." - C.S. Lewis