On this blog every Tuesday and Friday I write about story techniques, structure, and/or publishing. Comments and questions are welcome. I also have a personal blog, Amy Deardon, on which I write about a variety of topics purely as they catch my fancy.

I've written one novel, A Lever Long Enough, that I'm honored to say has won two awards. In my life BC (before children) I was a scientist who did bench research.

My book, The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story, is now available in both hard-copy and e-book formats. I also coach would-be novelists and screenwriters to develop their story. YOU CAN CONTACT ME at amydeardon at yahoo dot com.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Getting Your Material Ready for Submission, Part 1: Why Prepare a Submission Package

You've finished your manuscript, and you want to find a literary agent (or editor). Congratulations! Now what do you need to do? This short series is a quick overview to get you started -- you'll need to do more research beyond this blog to produce an exceptional submission effort.

I have a story from this summer. It emphasizes my point in this blog that you must make your best effort to prepare a submission package.

My cousin finished a memoir and wanted to find an agent. He wrote to about 50 agents without a nibble, and so decided that he would never succeed with traditional publishing. He decided to sign with a publish on demand company. At this point I unknowingly called his mother, my aunt, to chat, and she relayed this information. I told her to tell my cousin to pay NO MONEY, NO MONEY, and to contact me before he did anything else. (I will write about publish on demand companies in later blogs -- but quick summary, they are almost certainly rip-offs. I know of one company, and one company only, that gives a fair deal to the author).

My cousin told me no one had even requested a synopsis or manuscript, but were turning him down at the query stage. "Let me see the query," I said.

His query was witty and well-written. The problem was subtle: he was describing his book, rather than describing WHO WOULD BUY THIS BOOK. I suggested a few tweaks. Explain the context of his theme in the American psyche, and describe the target market of people who might be interested in purchasing his story. Enlarge his platform or people with whom he might come into contact with through the net or in person. Describe the efforts he would and could take to help sell the book, including getting the word out through his platform, finding endorsements, thinking of places that might be good sales venues, etc. It didn't take much.

Forty-eight hours later he'd heard back from an agent who wanted to see his manuscript immediately. A few weeks after that, the agent had shown the book to several houses who were interested, including Random House. She's thinking of holding an auction.

Wow, is that a dream story or what? I'm so excited for and proud of my cousin! Can't wait to read his book :-)

The point here is take the time to do the submission package. Don't orphan your book when it's ready to shine.

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