Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Business of Writing for First Time Authors

After completing my first manuscript, Learning to Play with a Lion's Testicles I felt elated, relieved and on top of the world.  It was as though I had just finished a marathon and now I could collapse and do nothing but celebrate.  But after much celebration and staring at my completed manuscript on the shelf, the reality hit - now what?  
I asked a successful and PUBLISHED writer what to do next.  He told me to celebrate my accomplishment then find an agent.  I thought I should find a publisher but after many hours of research I discovered what he had already told me - I had to find an agent to find a publisher.  The agents do the preliminary ground work among many other things, saving publishers a lot of resources: time and money and saving you - the author a lot of time and trouble.  
So, the search began.  Still exhausted from writing for six months, I bought a Guide to Literary Agents.  In the book I learned that besides researching the right agent for my book, I would have to write a query letter which is essentially a sales letter.  Most agents want to see a query letter before anything else, if it gets their interest then they will request a book proposal.  
Book proposal?  After countless more hours of research on the internet I found several examples of book proposals - each one more confusing than the previous.  After 21 drafts of my query letter, I sent it out to a few select agents.  Very soon and much to my surprise agents starting to ask me for my book proposal - something I had not yet completed and the thought of doing was even more excruciating than even writing the book!
I found an ebook that for $5 made the process simple, stress free and as it is written by a smart, savvy and successful literary agent, made me feel as though she was right there mentoring me through the process.  A few days later I had completed a proposal that I felt confident would land me an agent and...it did.
No one ever told me how to do any of this (other than the priceless advice of finding an agent), it was all research, research and then some more research.  Looking back, if I could have found one person to help me, this is what they would have said, making my life much less stressful besides saving me hours of time:
1) Find an agent by writing an excellent one page query letter and only send it to agents that are interested in your genre (most local libraries have a resource book of literary agents, or you can buy one at www.amazon.com). The one I bought is here: http://www.amazon.com/Guide-Literary-Agents-Chuck-Sambuchino/dp/1582979537
2) Before you start sending out query letters, write your book proposal so it is ready when potential agents ask for it.  Nothing looks worse than making a potential business partner wait.  The best little How To guide I found was $5 and worth every single penny as I said above (and no I do not make any commission from the sales of this book!). It can be found here:

3) Have faith and be proud of your accomplishments thus far and for having the courage to pursue your dreams.


Good Luck - and as Winston Churchill said "Never, never, never, never, never give up"
Adventures Await!
© Melissa J Haynes

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