Good afternoon, gentle viewers, and welcome to my world of bad blog title puns for the day. As you have probably noticed (you’re really quite observant), each day for the past few has had a bit of a theme.
As I may have said before, the reason for this is to provide some focus for the old girl (blog) and give you some nice content and
funny pictures of cats the aspiringly (I made that word up) brilliant meanderings of an urban fantasy writer. All without popup ads for you to use for target practice!
Sunday’s feature will be (as I’m sure you, with the help of Watson, deduced from the title of this punny blog) “Sunday My Prints Will Come”, which is just another way of me saying that I’m diving into the hurricane of publishing, that jungle of agent Snarks, that sea of bookshelves and ink, that — that’s quite enough for one writer. I need to wipe my forehead.
If you’ve never seen Snow White, you may not get the reference. In that case, I’ll help you:
Instead of pining away for a castle and some dude on a horse who thinks driving into the sun is more romantic than a recipe for blindness, I’m on a quest to one day get my book in the mail. With a cover and a binding and everything! My handsome Prints. Hence the name.
I promised, gentle viewers, that I would bring you with me when I started this journey, so here’s the little square on the board marked, “Start here!”
There is an unfortunate lack of fanfare and a lot of 1s and 0s, but it’s okay. *Whispers.* It’s all in the plan.
For those of you who don’t know, on January 20, I will be clambering aboard a trusty blue and yellow double decker steed to make the journey to New York City. Therein, I shall seek out the agent Snarks and hope they be not Boojums. I’m headed for the Writer’s Digest Conference and their fabled Pitch Slam, where I get to
speed date pitch to about 60 agents and try to get them to read my book. This is where the 1s and 0s come in.
60 is a rather large number of agents. Luckily, the nice folks at Writer’s Digest did me a solid and added a little blurb next to each of those 60 names so I don’t have to embarrass myself by pitching my gritty, adult urban fantasy to someone who only publishes inspirational picture books.
Embedded in the previous paragraph was Lesson the First, which I have opted to learn from the experience of others instead of blindly making the mistake myself.
Lesson the First: Know the agents you’re contacting. Know what they sell, how often, and what they like to read. Know who they represent and what major sales they’ve made — and to which publishers. Never see the word “agent” as synonymous with your genre.
My first endeavor was to scroll through that long list of agents and pluck out the ones who are actively looking for urban fantasy. Lucky me, I found about 20 or so. I put a little mental star next to ones who mentioned loving extraordinary female leads who overcome huge odds. (Yes, there were more than one.)
Step the next was to check out their agencies, which for most of them was listed next to their names. I hunted down their websites and took a peek at what books they’d represented, how many I’d heard of, how many were bestsellers, and to which presses they sold. Some agencies made my heart go pitter-pat, the biggies like Curtis Brown and Writers House especially. There was also some strategy in that research — even if the representative agent from Writers House doesn’t go as far into fantasy as urban fantasy, it might still be worth pitching to him because I know from my research already that Writers House is an agency that passes on likely queries to agents who might be a better fit. Even if he didn’t bite, he might say something like, “Oh, I don’t take that genre of fiction, but my colleague at Writers House, Merilee Heifetz (as Emmie piddles her pants) does, and you should query her. Tell her I referred you.”
Hey, I can dream. Let me dream.
Third, after the agenty, agency research bit, I took my narrowed down list to Twitter and promptly followed all the agents I could find. Jason Yarn, Joanna Volpe, Melissa Sarver, Ginger Clark, Hannah Bowman, and Brandi Bowles are the names I found there.
That’s a start. The next step will be to make some flash cards (ah, you think I’m joking) and learn definitively which agents accept what and who they’d sell it to. When I walk into that rather intimidating ballroom at the Sheraton Towers on Saturday, January 21, I want to have not only a razor-sharp pitch and a heat-seeking missile of a manuscript, but the knowledge and recognition of who I’m talking to the moment I get plunked in front of them. I think they’d appreciate that — I know I would in their place.
Is this stuff boring? Not a bit. I find it exciting, like touching the frayed end of a lamp cord that a cat’s gnawed at. A little buzz through the skin, the beginnings of effervescent bubbles. I know there will be rejection, but there could be other stuff to find.
Till tomorrow, gentle viewers, I bid you good day. May your Sunday be full of light and words.