So you can read my books

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


In the beginning was the Word.

Lucky for the universe God didn't need an agent to get his Word to see the Light.

But none of us is God. And if I'm wrong about this, would You please put in an appearance in my apartment? I've got some questions.

Not being Deity, you and I have to get an agent.

L. Diane Wolfe has an excellent post on why none of us should even consider a subsidy or vanity press.

Bottom line : they're called vanity publishers for a reason. Basically, it's like paying for a kiss. It means very little. And less to major publishers if you refer to being published by them. The big boys all know you paid to get published.

And it only means something when they pay you for it. In a sad sidebar, that truth is why some hopeless women on the hard streets feel they have worth. Men pay for them.


"If you build it, he will come."

And the same is true for us as writers. An agent will not come because I'm a nice guy. She will not come because I'm a writer with a great idea. She will not come because I beg. {Although I have to admit, I've been tempted to do that.} She will not come because I have great promise.


The agent will come when I build something real for her to appear for. A novel that is finished, that is riveting from the very first sentence, that grabs the reader and will not let her go, that finishes with a resolved crisis and growth for the main character, hinted at in the very first chapter.

But more : she will come when I have already built a platform from which she can stand, from which a publisher can view potential sales, from which they can compute the possible profit in it for them to buy my novel.

That is something she can use in the ways she knows best, taking a finished novel with existing interest. With that she can go to the editors, persuading them into a better financial deal than we could have dreamed.

Until that happens, there is no need for an agent. Lusting for one is even a distraction. A distraction from what, you say?

From crafting that polished," draw-you-in-with-the-first-sentence" novel. But the novel is not enough, you must also have a platform. Get your name out there.

Twitter. Learn how to use it. Listen to others. Learn how NOT to hawk yourself. Facebook has problems. But set up an account for later. Be prepared.

Do what you're doing now. Write an interesting, absorbing blog. Be the best you on that blog you can be. Go with your strengths. If you're funny, make 'em laugh. If you're wise {me, I'm otherwise}, then share what you have freely and compassionately.

Go to others' blogs. You see something there that is useful or fun or both, direct your readers to that blog. Have the back of your fellow blogger. Maybe they'll have your back in return. If not, you still have the good feeling inside that being decent and kind gives you.

Google on how to write queries. I've written a couple of decent posts on how to do that. Other bloggers have as well.

Now, go to and find agents for your genre. Go to Preditors and Editors and see if there are any red flags to their names. Go to Absolute Write Water Cooler : and see what fellow writers think of your targeted agent.

Write the shortest, most interest-grabbing query you can. I've just written a post on how to do that. Google will show you others. Now, write that query. Show it to a few fellow writers you trust.

Then, throw your note in a cyber bottle out into the sea. Throw ten notes. And if three request a partial or a full, send them. Also tell those requesting agents about the interest of the other two.

Is that honest? Yes. Is that wise? It's human nature wise.

Guys want a girl that other guys want. It's human nature. Finding out other agents are interested in you makes you seem more attractive to that agent reading your reply. Be professional, of course, in how you state it. State it as a courtesy to them.

Agents who read this may sputter. But I'm not writing this for them. I writing this for you to have the best shot at getting an agent.

Oh, and when you get your agent, and she sells your novel, her next question will be :

"What are you working on next?"

Be prepared for that with a polished proposal. Let her know that you are professional and not a one-shot wonder. Understand that there is a melody playing inside her head as she looks at you : "What do you have for me that will make me more money?"

Your goal is to write, sell, repeat. Enjoy the journey ... and the friends you make along the way.

Like Spenser says, "It is what it is."
One of my favorite melodies is "Adiemus," and I have included it with a glimpse of 300, a movie stemming from brave men who would not admit "impossible" into their thinking.


  1. Your advice reminds me of the advice I posted today from agent Mark McVeigh: Figure out what the person reading your letter wants and then give it to them. Very wise!

  2. Hi Roland .. great advice .. especially with the links - thank you.

    I'm not an author .. but sometime I believe I'll be one and so it's always interesting to learn approaches and see ideas .. Hilary

  3. this advice is all good, bro...

    did you see donna's post where a writer told the publisher: take all 13 of my books, or none? they took all! :)

  4. oops... it's not in donna's blog :(

  5. uh... it's in wendy's... sorry :(

  6. Thanks for the mention!
    Writers need to be aware that they are neither traditionally published nor self-published if they choose that route. And compared to the price of sending out query letters or publishing it yourself, it's the most expensive as well. And since almost 99% of those authors lose money, it doesn't have a good success rate, either.