A geeky girl living in the big city, making her way, the only way she knows how... no wait, that's The Dukes of Hazzard. Who am I again? Oh yeah, a pop culture obsessed writer, publishing person, and occasional nerd. And I'm getting married. I talk about that, too.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Advice from an agent

I'm always impressed by smart, detailed blog posts from Agent Kristin of Pub Rants and the pseudonymously wicked Miss Snark on the business of publishing, often chock full of helpful hints about our industry. One of my New Year's resolutions is to strive to be even a fraction as helpful to the readers who come upon my humble little corner of the blogosphere. To that end, I present a completely irregular new feature of ktbuffy's blog: Advice From An Agent.

Helpful hint #1: It ought to go without saying, but as an aspiring writer, if you're lucky enough to receive a request from an agent, follow the specifics of her request. We'll get back to queries another time, but if you've made it past that hard first step and have received a response saying something along the lines of "I'm intrigued. Please send..." pay careful attention to the next words. If the agent asks for 50 pages, send 50 pages. If that means your final page leaves a sentence unfinished, consider it a teaser for the rest of the manuscript and be grateful. If you're asked to send 5 chapters, or 3, or 10, then send 5 chapters, or 3, or 10. Do not be that writer who includes in her covering note a phrase like this, "In response to your email, I'm attaching the first few chapters of Novel X - slightly more than five as two of the chapters are short." If I'd wanted more than 5, I'd have asked for more than five. And what about this one? "As discussed, I’m sending you a sample from Novel Y (the first 50 pages since I don’t use conventional chapter breaks)." Unless the novel is a continuous stream of consciousness rant, you do use section breaks of some kind, yes? Send me the first five.

And yes, I said the FIRST five. Never, under any circumstances, send sample chapters that are scattered throughout the book, or in any other way not the beginning of the book. Others have said it before, I'm just reiterating: if you don't feel the first few chapters are strong enough to best present your novel to an agent, then get back to the drafting table or keyboard and do some more revision.

This has been Advice from an Agent. More when I feel like it, or if you have any specific questions you need answered. Feel free to email me here.



Blogger Harry Tournemille said...

Sound advice. No doubt such infractions occur frequently, perhaps due to a colliding of egos. The author wants to assume control from the start, dictating the terms to which his/her "stroke of genius" should be considered.
I wonder how long it takes for one to discover that nobody "needs" to read their work, nobody actually cares in that intimate sense.
Or am I wrong?

1/08/2007 5:36 PM

Blogger ktbuffy said...

You're not wrong. What it pays to remember is that agents are dealing with HUNDREDS, if not thousands of aspiring writers. What will help get you a foot in the door, rather than a boot on the arse, is being able to follow instructions. It seems so simple.

1/08/2007 5:59 PM


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