Webinar: HOW TO GET AN AGENT May 14th, Writer’s Digest

Picture 1I’m back at Writer’s Digest doing another great webinar. This time: HOW TO GET AN AGENT. Sign up here for the May 14 (1pm EST) session. 

Many writers think getting a literary agent is the hardest thing they’ll have to do as a writer. They think agents are looking to turn away writers, when actually many agents are actively looking to sign new talent. How do you find these agents that have open doors?

Literary Agent Carly Watters works with many debut writers she’s signed from the slush pile who have become successful multi-published authors. She’ll share the industry expectations of debut writers, how to find agents that are actively looking for new writers, and what questions to ask to make sure you find the right agent for you.

Learn what agents are being told by the industry and how that shapes the debut projects they sign, why you need an agent, and where to find agents that represent what you write. Do you want know how to hook an agent? Carly will make sure you’re fishing in the right pond.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:

  • What an author/agent relationship looks like
  • How to find an agent that’s right for you
  • How to show agents you’re a ‘career author’
  • How to stand out among other querying writers
  • What the state of the industry looks like for new authors
  • How agents approach the slush pile and writers conferences
  • The important steps to writing a successful query letter
  • Why you must query an agent with what they ask for

WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOU:

  • Live access to the webinar to ask questions, OR if you’re working, still sign up because either way you get the webinar emailed to you and you get your critique.
  • A critique of your query! From me!
  • 1 Hour of Instruction
  • 1/2 Hour of Q & A

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?

  • Writers who are crafting their first book
  • Writers who have completed their first book
  • Published writers who do not have an agent yet
  • Writers who want to learn more about the author/agent relationship looks like
  • Writers who want to learn an agent’s role in the industry

Sign up today!

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Querying as a Debut Author

I really enjoy talking about debuts.

Many debut authors are nervous about their credentials (do I have enough? do they mean anything?), their contacts (who do I have to know? what if I don’t “know” anyone?), and their book (what if it’s not good enough? what if it’s the best I’ve got?).

I think it’s time debut authors gained their confidence and started to tap into the excitement that agents feel for them.

Here are 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Querying as a Debut Author:

1. Agents look forward to your work. Any agent who is building a list is looking for work. Not all agents are building a list however, so save yourself the heartbreak and query agents who advertise that they’re looking for new talent.

2. Your credentials aren’t holding you back. No bylines? No problem. I never brush off writers who haven’t been published in literary journals or newspapers. Everyone starts somewhere. And, as an agent whose talent is breaking out authors, I’m looking for writers at the early stages of their careers. It’s okay to tell me in your query that this is your first novel.

3. You don’t have to know anyone. Yes, referrals get you in the door, but agents still have particular tastes. The best way to get an agent is to query properly. The only people you need to know are authors whose work you love and then see who represents them. Start there.

4. You’re the best advocate for your work. (Don’t hire a company to query for you.) I feel sad for writers when I see that someone has queried on their behalf. If you’re too busy/scared/uninformed to query your own book then agents aren’t inclined to work with you. You, the writer, are always the most passionate about your own work so why would you outsource it? You can’t outsource ambition.

5. Someday you won’t be a debut anymore. Yes, I’m sure you knew this, but what I mean to say is right now it feels rough. But, the most important thing is making good business decisions early on in your career to set you up for success later. Don’t be swayed by short term gains for the sake of your future career goals. A bad agent fit (either not passionate about your work, doesn’t have time for you, or doesn’t share the same vision) is worse than no agent.

The Break-up: How to Leave Your Agent

I’m a believer in positive thinking and I try to keep things inspiring on my blog, but from time to time we have to get real and talk about tough things. What happens when you want to leave your agent? How should you do it? What’s the order of things?

Every scenario is different and this isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, but here are some tips and suggestions to make a healthy and professional break. 

Leave your agent first. It’s always better to leave once you know things aren’t working. And no agent wants an email from an industry colleague saying “your client is querying and aren’t you still representing them?” It’s a bad scenario for everyone. Make a plan, part ways and then get back to your query letter.

Querying again might not be so hard. It’s up to you whether you want to say “previously represented and have amicably parted ways with my old agent” or whether you want to query with a blank slate. But if you got an agent once, you can do it again. Don’t let the slush pile keep you from leaving a partnership that’s not working.

Get your information: sales figures, submission lists etc. As soon as you’re querying again agents will be asking about these things. So as you’re parting ways make sure to ask for all the ammunition you might need. It’s better to get it right away than track down a former agent months later.

Remember it’s a small industry. Bad mouthing anyone or keeping secrets isn’t going to fly. Agents want to work with people they get along with, whether they’ve had another agent before or not. So push the trash talk away, and focus on what didn’t work, why, and how you can prevent your new partnership from falling into that old pattern.

Keep it professional, not personal. When it’s time to say goodbye it’s okay to do it by email. You don’t need to pick up the phone if you don’t want to. Either way, keep it classy.

If you want to, make sure you did everything you could. There’s no point putting your head in the sand the minute things don’t go your way. When you sign with an agent in the first place you should feel a sense of whether you can work with this person when things are great and when things are tough. (However, we all know situations change and people change.) Before you leave make sure you let your agent know when you’re having trouble in case your issues are resolvable and you don’t have to leave after all.

Don’t…

  • Write a blog post about your experiences. Some things you need to keep to yourself.
  • Keep secrets. If you’re not happy speak up before the relationship unravels. Or keep secrets from your new agent.
  • Start your new query letter with the negative. Avoid telling new agents how your old relationship went sour. Save that tidy line “amicably parted ways” for your author bio.

Managing your career is about knowing what’s best for you and your work. Sometimes even the best intentioned partnerships don’t work out in the long term and that’s okay. A well-built writing career is a long one.

Webinar: Successfully Publishing Your First Novel in the 21st Century

webinar3Attention debut writers! I have a Writer’s Digest Webinar coming up on Feb 19 at 1pm.

(Remember: If you can’t attend live you will still get the webinar sent to you. You still get a critique, too.)

Also, a critique is not a query. So if you want to sign up and get a critique and then use the feedback you can still query me after!

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I will be teaching Successfully Publishing Your First Novel in the 21st Century. Sign up today! It includes a critique of the first 5 pages of your manuscript. Space is limited.

From Writer’s Digest:

WEBINAR: SUCCESSFULLY PUBLISHING YOUR  FIRST NOVEL IN THE 21ST CENTURY

It has never been more difficult to get traditionally published and make your writing stand out than right now. No matter what your writing goals are, a writer needs to get their book noticed to make it in this age of publishing. But with the right tools and industry insider tips you can make it possible.

Being a published author in the 21st century means knowing how to get published, how to do it well, and how to rise above all the other books out there. Instead of accepting that it’s a competitive industry, why not learn what it takes to build a successful writing career?

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:

  • How to begin your book and why you’ve probably been starting in the wrong spot
  • Self-editing tips that will transform your manuscript
  • How to make your query letter stand out (from someone who reads over 800 a month!)
  • Why agents stop reading your manuscript
  • What agents are looking for in writers that are going to help them stand out
  • How agents partner with authors to make them stand out in 21st century publishing

Sign up here! Listen to me for an hour and a half from the comfort of your own desk. And don’t forget: I will be critiquing the first 5 pages of everyone’s manuscript in the weeks following the Webinar.