Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dear Agent

And they're off.
I’ve sent sample pages to most of the literary agents who expressed interest at the San Francisco Writers Conference. It was a slow process, since all them have different submission requirements. One agent requested a query letter and the first chapter, hardcopy. One wanted a synopsis and the first 30 pages pasted directly into the email. Another requested the first 50 pages, hardcopy. And so on.

Needless to say, I spent the weekend writing cover letters and e-mails, polishing my synopsis, and rewriting my first chapter 487 times.

It's exciting, knowing that my stuff is out there in the electronic ether, or on a mail truck somewhere. I’ve already started checking my email constantly. And for the first time since I applied to college, I can’t wait to get home and check my physical mailbox.

Now, about that deadline. I’d wanted to wash my hands of DOUBLE-BLIND by March 21st. With all the activity around the writers confernece, I haven’t been able to do any new work on my manuscript in a few weeks. Also, I learned at the conference that my book is a tad short for its genre. The current version is around 75,000 words (260 double-spaced word doc pages; about 300 printed book pages). Ideally, it should be at least 80,000 words. I’m not too worried about it; it’s always easier to add then to cut out. Plus, I have about 50,000 words of deleted scenes at my disposal. But those are draft words. So once I add a scene, I’ll need to rewrite, polish, and polish some more.

Another thing I learned at the conference was that I probably should have another editor look at my manuscript before I consider it completely ready. One published author said she always has at least two professional editing sessions -- and sometimes four -- before she considers her book ready. The last freelance editor I hired was more of a manuscript consultant -- she made suggestions about the plot and character development. I’m undecided on this, but I do think it would be useful to hire a copy editor to through it line-by-line, because I haven't had that level of review yet.

Of course, another theme I kept hearing at the conference was that the average published author has eight unpublished manuscripts in his desk drawer. You rarely sell your first book. So part of me just wants to finish this thing, take what I've learned, and start book number two.

Regardless of which route I take, I’m probably going to miss the deadline. It shouldn't bother me; after all, I set the damn deadline. There’s no penalty for missing it, technically. But it does bother me. It bothers me a lot. In fact, I woke up in the middle of the night and thought, I'm going to miss the deadline. How can I tell the Leaf Blower readers that I’m not going to make it?
That's the beauty of this blog. You keep me honest, LB readers. And you keep me going. Thank you for that.


  1. I thought the woman who had four editors was overdoing it. Either that, or she wasn't hiring very good editors. Don't panic!

  2. Woot! Sounds like you've sent a lot of material out. Good luck!

  3. I forgive you for not making your deadline. That is the kind of LB fan I am.