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Pen IN Hand
January, 2008

eBook Writer

More Agent Angling
Examine what's on your hook
By  Peggy Bechko

kay, so you've decided it really is time for you to seek out an agent appropriate to your needs. Let's get right to the heart of it and plot a plan for the approach. First, here's a reminder as to what a literary agent does.

  1. Finds the right market for your writing.
  2. Shops your books around knows the editors appropriate to your work.
  3. Sets up meeting with publishers presenting your work and recommending you for other writing work.
  4. Negotiates contracts.
  5. Collects advances and royalties due to you taking a percentage of your income.
  6. Tracks your publishing accounts.

There may well be more arranged between the two of you, but thatís the gist. Your agent is not your buddy, your friend, your therapist or your editor. He or she is not your travel agent, your lawyer or the go-to guy or gal for a short-term loan.

Next, determine what agencies/agent(s) you want to approach. Gather your research materials. Not all agents represent everything (thereís an understatement). Donít send your query for a science-fiction novel to a scholarly non-fiction representative.  

Check out agencies, and then check out agents who work in it. Decide whether you want to work with an agency that is huge, and your agent perhaps a newcomer looking for great new talent, or for a smaller outfit that might not have the clout but could well give you more individualized attention.

Check out the whispers and warnings about agents; and remember, there are some sharks out there. You might want to bear this in mind as well: Literary Market Place informs us about 40 percent of book agents will not read manuscripts by unpublished authors and another 15 percent wont even answer query letters from them.

So, with that uplifting thought, here are a couple more places in addition to the ones I mentioned last time to find them:

  1. Try Publishers Weekly check out the agents who represent the type of work you write, which are looking for clients, etc.
  2. The Society of Authors Representatives (P.O. Box 650, New York, NY 10113) offers a list of agents.
  3. Attend conferences, follow up recommendations from fellow writers, subscribe to online writers newsletters and follow through on the info.

Hereís a quick aside. Over the long haul you might want to think about learning something about copywriting thatís selling with words. A book called The Copywriters Handbook by Robert Bly is worth reading, as is Triggers by Joseph Sugarman.

I know, I know, you donít want to be a salesperson. You want to write. Well, youíre gonna have to sell, one way or another, sooner or later if you want to be a successful writer, so learning a little something about what grabs attention isnít a bad idea.

Broadly, when writing your query letter, remember, donít be cute, donít tell them your mom liked it and donít talk about money. 

Next time, we'll get into the nuts and bolts of writing that query letter and Iíll give some examples. Until then here are a couple of things to think about and to get down on paper. 

  1. You should have a written a synopsis of your novel. A tight, well written overview of your story no longer than a few pages. This is a document to either include with your query, should the information you gather indicate it would be welcomed, or to send upon request either with your completed novel or in advance of it.
  2. Think about the hook for your first paragraph, your first sentence. You donít want to begin with, ďHi, Iím a writer and my book is great.Ē You might want to lead with a powerful sentence from your book, or perhaps create a punchy one-sentence intro thatíll hook an agent into wanting to read more. Really think about this. Itís important.

Ponder those two things and next well lie out the skeleton and talk about querying etiquette. IN Icon

Author of Doubleday western novels, Harlequin romances, Fictionworks' fantasies (eBook format), Peggy Bechko has also optioned screenplays domestically and abroad, written for an animated series and for variety of other venues. She's working on a new novel and collaborating on a animated series.  

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IN This Issue
Cha, Cha, Cha, Changes!
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Writers Write
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Get A Clue
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Writerís Block
The path to inspiration starts
Upon the trails weíve known;
Each writerís block is not a rock,
But just a stepping stone.

Poetry Is Not
Penned to the page
Waiting for us to admire.
It is only a lonely thought
Caught by tears on fire.

Silent Echoes
A quiet rhyme upon a page
Is what a poet gives;
Some gentle words whispered in trust
To see if memory lives.

Bard From Deadlines
What makes a poem finally work
Is not the time it takes;
Itís how the poet used the muse
To prophet from mistakes.

Be Mused
The art and craft of poetry
Are not so far apart;
The craft comes from the cunning,
The rest comes from the heart.

Fine Vintage
Donít plant your poem on the page
As though youíre hanging drapes;
Itís shape and flow should come and grow
Like wild summer grapes.

Getting It Write
Writers write what they know best,
Their passions, fears, and dreams;
Writers rarely write about
What other call their ďthemes.Ē

Double Vision
A writerís life is paradox,
Itís more than what it seems;
We write of our reality,
The one inside our dreams.

The echo of a promise,
The thunder of a sigh,
The music of a memory,
A child asking why.

Letter Perfect
Twenty six symbols arranged on a page
Can send a soul to heaven or torment it with rage,
Can free a fragile world or hold it in its net--
The power and the magic of the mighty alphabet.

The Write of Passage
The jump from writing just for fun
To getting paid for it
Begins when you first realize
You know youíll never quit.

It is not the magic of his wings
That sets us free from our bond.
It is the muse within ourselves
That lets our words lift us beyond.

Photo Poet
Consider your mind the darkroom,
Consider your life the lens,
Consider your eye the camera
On whose focus the poem depends.

Rising Moon
A poem is a rising moon
Shining on the sea,
An afterglow of all we know,
Of all we hope to be.

Star Light
Writing a poem,
Reaching a star,
In making good art
We find who we are.

Spider Web
A poem is a spider web
Spun with words of wonder,
Woven lace held in place
By whispers made of thunder.

The final draft upon the screen,
At last my poemís through;
A verse of only four short lines--
I rewrote twenty-two!

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