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The Fantastic and Mundane Chronicles of an Aspiring Writer

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The Query Letter and Purpose of a Literary Agent

Hello, everyone! I just sent out my first batch of query letters to several literary agents (*crosses fingers excitedly*), so for this post I thought I would focus on the subject of literary agents in general. I hope all you aspiring authors looking to get published out there find this helpful!

Anyone trying to get his or her manuscript published should strongly consider looking into obtaining agent. Their job is to submit the author’s work to publishing houses, or more specifically, the editors he or she believes would be the best match for the manuscript. In essence, literary agents act as mediators between the author and any entity wishing to sell, advertise, or promote his or her work, such as publishers or film studios. Simply stated, a literary agent’s function is to act as the author’s representative in the literary market. An agent will drastically increase your chances of getting your manuscript accepted by editors, negotiate the terms of your publishing contacts to give you the best deal possible, and also manage the subrights of your work.

Author Nathan Bransford has written a wonderful article that depicts the author-literary agent partnership in great detail here.

Here’s a basic list of the things you should include in your query letter:

  • 1-2 paragraph summary of your manuscript (like the blurbs on the back of book covers you see at the store) 
  • Brief biography (only things writing-related) 
  • Word count of your manuscript 
  • Why you are contacting this particular agent (note: This is IMPORTANT in making your query letter more personalized. If you’re choosing to query a specific agent because you read an interview that he or she was looking for YA fantasy works, and your manuscript fits this description then MENTION this!) 

Before starting your letter, you should research various resources online for more detailed guidelines on how to do this (the link for AgentQuery below will lead you to a page with this kind of information).

Okay, so now you maybe wondering exactly how to find the right literary agent for you?

One of the easiest ways to do this is to search online. There are many writing websites that regularly post agent spotlights that explain the types of manuscripts each one is looking for. These are some of my favorites:

AgentQuery

Literary Rambles

Manuscript Wishlist

You can also buy this year’s Guide to Literary Agents book, which contains a comprehensive list of every literary agency in the U.S. and what genres they are currently accepting.

Tip: While it is tempting to immediately send a query letter to the top literary agents of famous bestsellers, you should keep in mind that newer agents who are still building their client lists are more open to submissions and more likely to take on inexperienced authors. Writer’s Digest has a specific segment focusing on new and upcoming agents that you can check out here.

Good luck and write on!

Writing Update:What to Do While Waiting for Feedback

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So while I’m waiting to hear feedback on my manuscript from a beta reader, I decided to keep myself by starting another book!

I’m currently spending my day jotting down notes and ideas for where I want the story to go as well as beginning the first chapter. I always love writing the initial lines because they hold so much potential for the rest of the story. What do you do while waiting to hear feedback on a manuscript?

Word Counts

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Since I last updated, I have begun revising and editing my manuscript! This includes general proofreading as well as rewriting and adding or removing scenes. Right now I’m trying to decrease my word count as much as possible by cutting out anything that isn’t vital to the story. This is because literary agents and publishers are less willing to accept manuscripts with higher word counts, especially with new authors. Additionally, each genre has its own idea word count range. So for a YA fantasy/Science fiction novel, which is what I’m currently writing, my manuscript can be anywhere from around 75,000 to 110,ooo words, thought I should aim more towards 100,ooo words or less.

For more information on word counts check out these other sources!

Writer’s Digest 

LitRejections

The Swivet (slightly outdated, yes, but still a good information to keep in mind)

 

Writing Tips: Take Advantage of Your Local Bookstore!

Barnes & Noble (and bookstores in general) has always been one of my top spots for finding inspiration. Nothing delights me more than perusing the shelves for the next life-changing novel! Aside from being a place of inspiration and just overall fun, your local bookstore can also prove to be a place of research. It may seem like an obvious tip, but you should focus your attention on reading books within the same genre as the one you are writing. Choose the kinds of books you think may be similar to yours or the type you wish to write. Identify the common themes and characteristics of the books in a specific genre. This will give you a sense of the general format of the stories currently popular in that area of the market. While this isn’t to say that you should tailor your novel to fit the exact layout of those on the shelves, it will give you a better idea of what genre your novel fits into the best. Literary agents, and furthermore, publishers, will usually buy a manuscript if it can be easily placed under a single genre because it will make them more marketable. So, make a trip to your local bookstore and peruse away!

Why a Writer?

So, one of the questions I have been asked various times, is why exactly do I want to be a writer? To those people who don’t share a love of creative writing this urge to sit down and begin jotting down words of a story may seem somewhat of a mystery, and even now I can say the draw I feel towards this process is not entirely explicable to myself.

I suppose the best way I could explain why I write is this; I love stories, all kinds of stories, but especially the fantastic and magical. I love the way words can coalesce to form images, to form scenes of stories in worlds both real and imagined. A combination of words printed on a page when arranged in the right manner have the power to transport you out of your own reality—away from your problems, your failures, your sorrows—to one that is entirely new. And yet…the best stories, the ones that you remember, no matter how fantastical they may be , mirror our own realities in a way that touches us, that resonates with our conscience to make us feel.

Why do I wish to be a writer? What do I hope to achieve?

I want to give people stories that will allow them to escape from their everyday troubles. I want to create stories that will change people’s lives. Stories that will inspire them to reach for their own dreams, that will make them believe that anything is possible to achieve.

I suppose you could say that I write to inspire others.

I write to save dreams.

 

To any other writers out there, I pose the same question to you. Why do you write?

 

A New Year for Writing

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After taking a break for the holidays, I just started working on my book again, and I’m so excited to get back to it! I’m currently trying to push through and finish my first draft so I can begin revising and fixing things. One difficulty I always have after not writing regularly for some time is getting back into the schedule of typing a certain amount everyday. I’ve found that it takes me around a whole week of writing consecutively each day to really bring me back into the mindset my characters and the world in which they inhabit. So, here’s to beginning a hopefully great year for writing and blogging!

Any additional thoughts? My question to my fellow aspiring novelists out there is do you have any special preparation before beginning your own writing or do you prefer to simply dive in?

 

First Post

Hello, everyone! I’m so excited to start my new blog. So, if you clicked on the About me link on the menu, you will know that I am an aspiring fantasy novel writer. I am currently working on my third book, which I hope to publish some day. I will be using this website to share anything I find that inspires my imagination as well as my general love of reading and writing. Please subscribe and follow!

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