We have written our novel and now we are ready to seek out an agent—or are we?

            Today I spent much of my Saturday afternoon making a list of possible agents.  On each site, I not only read about each agent and what they represent, but read their blogs.  One agent wrote, “If this is the first draft of your first novel then don’t even bother.”  Wow, that hits you hard in the face.  Here we have spent hours, months and possibly years to write our masterpiece and she’s going to slap me in the face.  OUCH!

            Her statement is completely understandable.  Thousands of query letters hits the desks (computers) of agents/publishers on a daily basis.  I read on one agent’s blog, fifty percent of queries sent to him, have either misspelled his name, addressed the query letter “To Whom It May Concerns”, do not include the genre they seek representation for, or simply have basic spelling/grammar errors.  “No thanks, I’ll pass.”

            It is much the same with most agents and publishers.  If you can’t get the short query polished, what is the rest of your manuscript going to look like.  YIKES!

            But let’s go back a moment to my original statement.  Are you ready to seek an agent? 

            Say you have just finished your novel.  First thing I would suggest is to join a writer’s group.  Here you will get honest feedback from people who are not afraid to hurt your feelings.  Trust me, it might sting a little a first, but your writing will grow stronger and you will have the opportunity to analyze others writings as well. 

            Secondly, know your genre and search for agents that represent that genre.  You are not ready to submit yet, but by signing up with their blogs and finding out about them, gives you an upper hand in knowing what they are looking for.  Most of the agents I ran across today have no problems telling you what drives them insane or gets them excited. 

            Third, learn the craft.  Joining a critique group, reading editor, agents, or publishing blogs are great resources for learning.  There are also writers’ magazines that feature advice from writers, editors and publishers, and keep you current on the publishing world.

            And while you’re doing all these, you can check out my blog Building A Platform  as your next step.  You really want to have something you can add to your publishing credits.

            Currently, I’m on my seventh draft of “A LIGHT INTO THE DARKNESS”.  Each draft, tightens my novel and quickens the pace of the story.  Why?  Because of the critiques and I’m so grateful to those who aren’t afraid to tell me what they think. 

            Am I ready?  I like to think I’m close.  Fine turning my query, synopsis and first fifty pages is more than nerve racking, but worth it.  I don’t know if I’ll ever publish my first novel, but I have enjoyed those who have begged me for the second and third novel.  I’ve also enjoyed writing for the local paper and creating short stories for publications. 

            What tips do you have?  Do you follow a blog of an agent, editor, or publisher?  And why them? 

            Are you ready?

Happy Writing,

Shelly Goodman Wright