Thought those of us who have published a novel (or two or three) might share a little of how we got there - whether we signed with an agent or not, etc. - and answer questions for others trying to sort out what to do after the novel is written.
My path (and yes, it feels a little weird to reply to this, but I didn't want this all to appear in the thread heading): I didn't know any published writers to ask for introductions to agents, and so - perhaps to justify my sad predicament - convinced myself that an introduction would deny an agent the joy of discovery. I've come to believe this is true, honestly. And the way I found an agent was (after writing the best novel and best query I could):
I made a list of writers I admire who wrote something like what I'd written (or what I'd hoped I'd written, anyway). Then I searched for their agents by looking through the acks in their books, and volumes like "Contemporary American Authors." Now, you can Google each name and the word "agent" and 99/100 times, you'll be able to track down who represents them and how to submit to them. If I could find the name but not an address for an agent, I could usually find the address through the association of authors representatives, which now has a listing online.
I also sent out TONS of queries, in batches of 10-12, steeled myself for rejection, etc. And I do have friends who published their first books without agents, so it isn't the only path.
I have finished my novel, queried and found a few agents who (after reading the first ten pages) asked to see the completed MS. So I sent it out, but the timing may not have been the best since it was just last week, with the beginning of BEA and the holiday weekend following. Also, there was a time lapse of several months between the request for the completed MS and me sending it, as it still need a lot of rewrites and editing. (Yes, I queried a little early in the process.)
Are there any guidelines as to how long it takes for an agent to read the completed MS? The word count is 65k. I don't want to be a pest and follow up with the agent(s) prematurely, but also don't want to be waiting for replies if they're no longer interested/willing to read it.
Thanks. At what point can I send a follow up email? I'd hate to be waiting patiently only to find out that the agents aren't interested or even reading it. And like every other first time novelist, I need a paycheck. :)
I had worked and worked my novel, showing it to writer friends for feedback, until it felt almost perfect. I think you have to do that with a first book - get it to the point where you know it's your best shot.
Then I started looking for an agent. Orignally I tried the traditional way, i.e., querying people I'd found through writer's conferences and the Writers Market books. No luck. Probably tried twenty or so.
But I had a friend who had written a memoir and she offered to introduce me to her agent. Looking back, I'm not totally sure why I resisted using contacts for so long. Some stupid ego thing about doing it on my own, I suspect. But we all went to dinner and I talked to him and he became my agent. A month later he had sold the book.
The moral of the story, I guess, is that it does help to have contacts and the only way you'll have contacts is to actively participate in the creative community. I met this friend at a writer's conference we had both driven more than 500 miles to attend. But the contacts have to be matched with a very viable commodity, i.e., a well written book.
Seems to me to be published you have to have four things. A good book. Tenacity. Contacts. And a little bit of luck. If you have the first three eventually you will get the fourth.
Here is a link to a blog posted today in connection with an interview I did for womensradio, especially on the issue of why publish right now, and what to publish now, and self-publishing my first novel prior to getting an agent, or, more precisely, after my first agent died!!: http://www.yourbookisyourhook.com/category/blog/
At the request of a fellow SheWriter, I've added "Hunting the Elusive Agent" to my All-true Story of How a Novel Gets Published series (blogging my way to through the publication process for my new novel). Offered with the caveat, again, that there are so many ways to do this.
I have a question. There is a publisher that is interested in the book I'm writing. A small press publisher that I started talking to through another writing forum. Should I still try to get an agent to deal with the publisher or can I deal with the publisher on my own? I want to go about doing this the best way possible.