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Tips on Getting Published from an Agent


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#1 administrator

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 09:42 AM

Here is a list of books to read if you are interested in becoming a published writer compiled by an agent.

http://www.delbourgo...kresources.html
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#2 LadyMMac

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Posted 14 October 2006 - 10:02 AM

Thanks! I'll definitely keep this in mind.
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#3 ~tHiS*iS*mE~

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Posted 14 October 2006 - 06:59 PM

Thanks! Another really good one is The First Five Pages. Extremely helpful.

Laura
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#4 Jammi

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Posted 15 October 2006 - 01:28 AM

Not a book to get published, but an editor's blog. He posts query letters and shows what's wrong with them and things like that.

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#5 Very_Moody_Ryter

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 04:18 PM

A book that I bought that's really helpful on advice, tips, and a general overview on the publishing world (although it does not exactly talk about publishing YA, it's really good & you can plug your story into the situation). Also, it doesn't have a directory of agents, but someone posted a good link on this site for a database of some (I think it was Jammi) so you can use that. :D

How To Publish Your Novel
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#6 Jammi

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 04:58 PM

Here's the site for the agents; Agent Query
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#7 Very_Moody_Ryter

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 05:07 PM

Advice: Thin letter/envelope means it's a rejection (most likely) - trust me.
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#8 Jammi

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 08:01 PM

You sent something out Moody? Was it a form rejection or did they tell you why your story didn't work for them?

But good for you for sending something out.
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#9 Very_Moody_Ryter

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 04:20 AM

SIX rejection letters my dear. For all six letters I sent out. :tear:

Yes, most of them were form letters. Some where real nice. One was just a business-card shaped card saying what most of them did: "this isn't something we're interested in right now, or looking for" and if they're nice they say, "But maybe someone else will" and I even got a "Good luck" in one.

As orphan Annie said, "It's a hard-knock life for us".

Indeed, it is, Annie.
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#10 xC0UTURE

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 04:47 PM

Advice: Thin letter/envelope means it's a rejection (most likely) - trust me.


If accepted, they call. And I'm sorry to hear the news.
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#11 Jammi

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 10:28 PM

Tips for new writers

1. Don't use the porno opening sequence - where the character says something like: Let me tell you about myself, I'm X years old, I'm 5'7", 143 lbs and I wear purple sparkly earrings and go-go boots. Reasons why I hate this: it reminds me of badly written porn (not that I read any... not the badly written stuff, anyway) and it is so overt that if the author wasn't speaking directly to the reader up until then, it throws the flow of the story out of whack.

[also, don't open with a chacter profile sheet.]

2. Your first draft will not be your last draft. I'm sorry. It just won't be. So you must be prepared. And this doesn't mean you're a bad writer, in fact, if I ask an author for revisions it's because I feel the story has potential and I think the author has enough talent to make it better. Some of my clients write very clean first drafts and _still_ have to do revisions... so, be happy in the knowledge that it's not just you.
3. I learned this from one of my authors -- you shouldn't start new plot developments in the last part of your book, you should be using that "time" to wrap up threads that you began in the earlier parts of your book. That way, you don't have any dangling threads that leave the reader wondering, "What happened with so and so?"
4. Read. And never tell an author/agent/editor that you don't read (even if it seems like a logical idea because you "don't want your work to be derivative" -- it will be anyway, and more than that, it'll be badly written, too). Writing is a craft, like acting, like painting -- it's something that you get better at by doing, but also by studying what others have done before you and improving upon it or adding your own slant to it.
5. Write. This would seem like a very obvious thing, but sitting down to write is actually a HUGE milestone for new writers. It means believing in yourself long enough to begin. :)

Nadia Cornier

Agent at Firebrand Literray Agency
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#12 schrodingers cat

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Posted 11 January 2007 - 03:24 PM

thanks for that.

I hate those opening sentances. Or those sentances at any point in the story. IMO they're annoying, and just show that the writer can't figure out any other way to explain what the character looks like. (though in saying that, I don't think that I EVER mention what any of my characters look like so maybe I shouldn't comment.)
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#13 tootsweet

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Posted 12 January 2007 - 05:43 PM

Thanks for the tip but I was just wondering about somthing. My aunt told me (with the help of her writer/publisher) that I should self-publish first but it seems ot me that it's ALOT of money and alot of effot. Not saying that I coulnd't do it, but is it the best choice after all? I mean, I've sent my books to publishers already and I've already received like a bunch of 'Sorry you just aren't for us . . .' but still . . . I'm just confused.
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#14 Jammi

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Posted 12 January 2007 - 11:21 PM

Thanks for the tip but I was just wondering about somthing. My aunt told me (with the help of her writer/publisher) that I should self-publish first but it seems ot me that it's ALOT of money and alot of effot. Not saying that I coulnd't do it, but is it the best choice after all? I mean, I've sent my books to publishers already and I've already received like a bunch of 'Sorry you just aren't for us . . .' but still . . . I'm just confused.


Self-publishing, in my opinion, is not the way to go if you're seriously looking to make it. First off you're paying money to get your book out there and a lot of self-publishing companies don't edit the story so there are grammer/spelling mistakes.

Secondly, how will you get your book to stores with a self-publisher? They only take your story and put it in a book form, you have to distribute it yourself and because of that you're probably not going to get any of the money you put into it back. Actualyl, you'll be putting all money into it and won't have anything to pay for it since you won't be recieving profit. You'll be paying for marketing your book, trying to get notice for your book, all things that having a publishing company, even a small one, would help you with.

Thirdly, this isn't that big a deal but other writers may not take you seriously. They're struggling to get their novels recognized and you PAY to get yours published few people are going to consider you an actual published writer. You just bought that name for yourself. Admittedly, there are exceptions. I know one guy who self-published but the amount of effort he put into it was ridiculous. I don't know if he's actually turned a profit yet but he's happy with his effort. And the Chicken Little for the Soup people also self-published at first, but they were giving the books away to family and friends and then it became a hit. [I can't find the article about Chicken Soup, sorry]

And also, you will get rejected. Repeatedly. It's hard, and it hurts like hell but it will happen. Even if you think your work is brilliant. Remember to read the books that the company//agent has accepted, see if it's similar to your style or what you're writing about. Find out which publishing houses they query the most often then check out the books that they normally sell. Know your audience. Good luck.
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#15 Jammi

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Posted 13 January 2007 - 03:01 AM


Tips on submitting to agents


Please note that these are general guidelines, and some agents may prefer to be approached in a different way. Most of the agent reference books out there, or often the agent's website, will give you specific instructions for submitting to that agent.

For nonfiction, send a query letter with a detailed description of your project and a detailed bio or resume. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) with sufficient postage to cover the return of all the material you send (or indicate if the material may be recycled). For fiction, send a query letter with a brief plot synopsis, a detailed bio or resume and the FIRST THREE CONSECUTIVE chapters. Again include a SASE with sufficient postage. Some agents will tell you just to send a synopsis, but I feel it never hurts just to throw those sample chapters in. Generally, agents will read them if they're included, and the worst that can happen is that they'll get thrown out NOTE: E-mail query letters are fine, but you should send all information in the body of your e-mail. Remember that with the proliferation of computer viruses, agents will not open attachments from people they don't know. If you're sending more than a query letter (i.e. sample chapters) always send via snail mail, unless the agent specifies otherwise.

-Jenny Bent

Approaching a Literary Agent

Do's:

DO write a sharp, succinct cover letter.
DO send your very best material. This assumes that the content is the best it can be, but pay attention to form as well. Make sure it is a good clean copy, free of typos and other glaring errors that may negatively affect the agent's appraisal of your work.
DO determine whether the agent prefers e-mail queries or paper queries.
Assuming the agent does accept paper queries, DO send a SASE ( Self Addressed Stamped Envelope); the agent is not likely to respond without one.
DO take note of the genres the agent is interested in seeing. If the agent indicates that he or she does not represent sci-fi, for instance, and you have a science fiction book, then a submission or even a query to that agent is a waste of everyone's time and energy.
DO pay attention to that agent's submission guidelines: they have them for a reason. For instance, if they ask only for your first three chapters, don't send the whole manuscript.
DO give the agent an appropriate amount of time before following up on your submission. That amount of time varies from agent to agent, and is usually indicated in the submission guidelines or other information provided by the agent.

Don'ts:

DON'T expect the agent to sell him- or herself to you before they've read your work. All they want to do is take a look, and then they'll decide whether they want to represent you.
DON'T call the agent, unless they specify otherwise. Send a good query letter-again, after taking note of the format in which the agent prefers to receive queries. A very few agents are open to phone calls on first contact, but they are the exception rather than the rule.
DON'T expect the agent to market your manuscript without a single change. It may happen, but it's not likely. Even Hemingway was open to suggestions, and there are few books that could not benefit from a little constructive input

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#16 the_tall_girl

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Posted 14 February 2007 - 01:11 PM

I seriously don't get the publication process. I'll go check something out at the book store, but say you send out a query letter (whatever that is) what then? And what DO you put in a query letter? Hi, my name is so and so and my book is about this and this hope we can do business together? Lol I have no idea. I am so depressed right now, you have no idea. My best story, it turns out, I don't have the SLIGHTEST chnace of pblishing it. *sigh* I'll rewrite I guess. Okay, back on topic, so you send out a query letter, say they accept you, THEN do you send out a manuscript or what they're called, or do you send them together?
*sigh*
I have a lot of research and work to do. lol
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#17 the_tall_girl

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Posted 14 February 2007 - 01:11 PM

I seriously don't get the publication process. I'll go check something out at the book store, but say you send out a query letter (whatever that is) what then? And what DO you put in a query letter? Hi, my name is so and so and my book is about this and this hope we can do business together? Lol I have no idea. I am so depressed right now, you have no idea. My best story, it turns out, I don't have the SLIGHTEST chnace of pblishing it. *sigh* I'll rewrite I guess. Okay, back on topic, so you send out a query letter, say they accept you, THEN do you send out a manuscript or what they're called, or do you send them together?
*sigh*
I have a lot of research and work to do. lol
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#18 the_tall_girl

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Posted 14 February 2007 - 01:36 PM

Another question: (Oh and sorry for the double post up there) What's the difference between an agent and publisher??
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#19 Jammi

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Posted 20 February 2007 - 07:22 PM

What exactly is a literary agent?

A literary agent is exactly that—an agent for literary works. Literary agents represent books. They do not represent stage plays, screenplays, or television scripts. You find those agents in Hollywood, and that’s a whole ’nother website. Yes, it’s true that books become movies (usually bad, bad, very bad movies), but that’s because your literary agent, who sold the publishing rights to a major publishers, also successfully sold the movies rights to a major Hollywood studio. Again, whole ’nother website.

What’s important to know is that literary agents function as the middleman between you—unknown unpublished writer of a brilliant first book—and the Major New York Publishers. Literary agents have the contacts in the New York publishing world (and beyond) to get your book sold. Literary agents negotiate publishing contracts, sell subrights like foreign rights and media and electronic rights, and just plain manage your financial and business affairs so you can focus on your literary business of writing.

Just so you know on average most authors have to rewrite their orignal manuscripts three times before it's publishing ready since your writing matures and changes.



Here a link on How to write a Query letter


Example of a Query letter:
[italicised section is the agent's view]
Dear Ms. Bent:

Yay! She got my name right. You'd be surprised how many people don't. Although honestly, I don't hold it against them, but I know many agents who do.

My novel Who's My Daddy? took first place in the Sandhills Writers Conference in 2001 and one of the judges, Robert Bausch (author of A Hole in the Earth), called it "brilliant and original." I've read on your Web site that you handle women's fiction.

Good opening. I know Robert Bausch is a respected writer, and so if he liked it, that does mean something. Also, she demonstrates that she has done her research-I do indeed handle women's fiction.

Who's My Daddy? is a farcical Southern novel about Elizabeth Polk, a hairdresser who works at a beauty parlor for elderly ladies called the Cozy Cut. Everything in Elizabeth's life is "cattywampus." Her fiancé Clip Jenkins recently shoved a "Dear Jane" letter under the windshield wiper of her Geo Metro; she's embarrassed by her redneck daddy who blows up ottomans on TV in order to promote his rent-to-own furniture business; and her half-brother Lanier continually gets arrested for stealing lawn ornaments.

This is just plain funny. The only word I would have removed is "farcical," because farces are very tough to sell, but it would be hard for anyone outside of the business to know that.

Given her circumstances, Elizabeth can't understand why one of Augusta, Georgia's wealthiest matriarchs, Gracie Tobias, takes such a keen interest in her. Gracie introduces Elizabeth to her grandson Timothy who's just returned from a Buddhist monastery in California. When a romance between Elizabeth and Timothy develops, Elizabeth is plagued by insecurities regarding her lowly, family background.

Here, she's demonstrating that this novel does have conflict and hence a plot. Plots are good things. Agents and editors like them.

Who's My Daddy? crackles with more secrets than a middle-school slumber party. Elizabeth discovers a diary that raises questions about the identity of her daddy; Timothy refuses to discuss a trauma that made him abandon his life ten years ago; and Gracie Tobias knows a truth about Elizabeth's birthright that will change her life.

Again, she's demonstrating plot, plus, that first sentence is so fabulous and shows me that she's a good, creative writer.

Would you like to see a few sample chapters? I am the editor of The Metro-Augusta Parent a regional parenting publication and have received national awards (Parenting Publications of America) for my nonfiction writing.

Good. A very short bio that sums up her experience. Of course, I would have liked to see more awards, etc. for creative writing, but at this point I've already decided I want to see the book. She was smart to put her most significant writing award at the beginning of the letter and then put the rest, less significant experience here at the end.

Thank you for your consideration and time. An SASE is enclosed for your reply.

Short, sweet, and polite closing, plus a SASE. Who could ask for more?

Sincerely,

Karin Gillespie
(Reproduced with the Author's Permission, Copyright 2002)

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#20 the_tall_girl

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 06:42 PM

Would you like to see a few sample chapters? I am the editor of The Metro-Augusta Parent a regional parenting publication and have received national awards (Parenting Publications of America) for my nonfiction writing.

Good. A very short bio that sums up her experience. Of course, I would have liked to see more awards, etc. for creative writing, but at this point I've already decided I want to see the book. She was smart to put her most significant writing award at the beginning of the letter and then put the rest, less significant experience here at the end.


What if you don't have that kind of experience? Would they most likely just throw the letter away and not bother at all? It's kind of a scary thing. And do they accept people that are 14-15 years old that easily? Would that conflict with any copyrights and legal stuff?Sorry for bombarding you with all these questions.


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#21 Cabot~Fan

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Posted 08 March 2007 - 10:54 PM

You know, Christopher Paolini published Eragon when he was fifteen, or something like that, and look at him now. Julia, you shouldn't be so worried. You have incredible potential.

~Chelsie ♥

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#22 Jammi

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 04:39 AM


What if you don't have that kind of experience? Would they most likely just throw the letter away and not bother at all? It's kind of a scary thing. And do they accept people that are 14-15 years old that easily? Would that conflict with any copyrights and legal stuff?Sorry for bombarding you with all these questions.


No, they're basing it on your writing, I know there are authors out there who had no writing experiance before but their cover letters grabbed the agents eye and they backed it up with a strong story. Never mention your age in your cover letter and remember that you'll probably be rejected quite a lot right now because your writing isnt' 'polished'. Most teenagers are still 'finding' themselves and your voice will change. You'll probably end up rewriting your current favourite story multiple times before it fits your voice. [I read that an agent's blog when she was discussing why some authors aren't published that young even though they have potential. And I can't find the stupid link anymore]

But send it out anyway if you think it's ready, you might get an agent who'll point out what they liked or didn't like about what you sent in. Just remember to get it critiqued by at least two different people who won't be unnecessary cruel but you won't get angry at for being honest.
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#23 peanut_butter

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 02:49 PM

You know, Christopher Paolini published Eragon when he was fifteen, or something like that, and look at him now. Julia, you shouldn't be so worried. You have incredible potential.


I believe-- and don't hesistate to correct me if I'm wrong-- Christopher Paolini was published by his parents' agency. However, I do not doubt that you have potential.

Gracey :elmo:
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#24 Jammi

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 04:29 PM

I believe-- and don't hesistate to correct me if I'm wrong-- Christopher Paolini was published by his parents' agency. However, I do not doubt that you have potential.

Gracey :elmo:


That's what I heard as well.
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#25 Cabot~Fan

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 03:50 PM

Oh... well, I didn't know that. All I know is that it's still this huge bestseller, and it started out really small.

~Chelsie ♥

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#26 shadowland500

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 04:04 PM

Jammi, you give very great advice!helps alot!
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#27 .::.dArQaNjIl.::.

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 06:26 AM

That's what I heard as well.


It was. It's in the book.

Plus, a good way to see how people will react to your stories it to either:

a. put it up on a site like this one or
b. make copies and show people you know/ who are in your school/neighborhood

That way, you will be able to tell if they like it or not. People who you know can usually be trusted to give good judgement and advice and you can edit around before you send it off. It's sort of a pre-publish feedback process, so it's really useful.

Hope you found this useful,
BEE :mgbumblebee:

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#28 Musica101

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Posted 06 June 2007 - 10:03 AM

As far as I can see the Agent site Jammi posted up was US orientated, so does anyone know of any UK agents?


Musica :doubt:
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#29 Jammi

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 11:57 AM

Remember to go over the guidelines to see if the agency is legit [there's a link posted on the agent query website]

[topic="http://www.writersse...gent_uk.htm"]UK Literary Agents[/topic]

If they charge you money for reading your manuscript, it's a scam. If they ask for money from you period that is not part of a contract deal occuring when they sell your manuscript it's a scam.
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#30 awkwardchica

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 02:03 PM

Should you explain in your letter other things that you have published?

For instance, I have never published a story, but I have been published in the county newspaper several times.

Should I mention that?
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#31 writingirl15

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Posted 28 June 2007 - 08:04 PM

THANKS.
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#32 Jammi

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 03:54 AM

Should you explain in your letter other things that you have published?

For instance, I have never published a story, but I have been published in the county newspaper several times.

Should I mention that?


In your cover letter? Yeah.
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#33 Intentlistener

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 03:29 AM

It's one thing to be scared that you're not going to stand a chance when you're 14-15, but my friend is 12 and she has written a novel(half way done) that I think is pretty good for her age...does she stand any chance of getting published?

If you win a local short story contest...then do you have any chance of getting published?

Malinna
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#34 schrodingers cat

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 11:14 AM

A couple of people have said, agents and publishers don't look at your age when they consider you (I assume they know what they're talking about. . . :D). From what I understand, it's about what you write, not about how old you are when you write it.

Of course, this works both ways. Also mentioned somewhere above (or maybe on one of the other threads. . . ) is a quote saying that while no publisher or agent will say anything against your age, your work will be judged as though you are an adult. They will not say "Hey, let's publish it because it's some awesome work for a twelve year old."

That is not to say that I don't think your friend writes well (How would I know anyway?) just that these are some problems that should be considered. Don't be put off though, you should always give it a shot. The worst that will happen is you'll get a rejection letter (written by a person who fully intends to start a scrapbook of rejection letters)

^_^

If you win a local short story contest...then do you have any chance of getting published?


While it is definately a step in the right direction (did you win a competition? Congratulations if so!) you should probably remember that a lot of people who have never won contests in their lives have been published, and become quite successful. You don't need to win competitions to be published (though stating achievements like this in the query letter you send out helps (As Jammi said))
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#35 Intentlistener

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 11:06 PM

No...I haven't...I'm thinking about entering one...though I usually don't write short stories...

Hey...if you've put a story on MCMB, will it stop you from getting you're work published even if you were accepted?

Just asking...

Malinna
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#36 MissyPoo

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 12:01 PM

I know this thread is all about getting published with an Agent. My question is how do you become a literary agent?

Michelle :P

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#37 awkwardchica

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 12:28 AM

Should you or should you not mention your age to an agent?

Jennie :happy8:


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#38 awkwardchica

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 12:29 AM

Er-- I meant a potential agent.

Jennie :happy8:


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#39 Jammi

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 05:03 PM

No.
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#40 awkwardchica

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Posted 15 September 2007 - 08:53 PM

Do you send the first three pages of your story out with the query letter?
I heard that somewhere, but I can't remember where...

Oh, and, what happens if your story doesn't have a title?
Do you send them the letter with the working title?
I think that Meg said that 90% of the time, publishers change the name of your story anyways, so does it really matter?

How long do agents expect your first draft to be?
I think Meg said that for YA its 55,000-60,000 words, is that true for every publisher, or just hers?

Sorry, I've got a bunch of questions that will come to me later, since I'm getting much closer to sending my story out to agents.

Jennie :happy8:


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#41 dancer_princess

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Posted 16 September 2007 - 01:48 PM

Do you send the first three pages of your story out with the query letter?
I heard that somewhere, but I can't remember where...

Oh, and, what happens if your story doesn't have a title?
Do you send them the letter with the working title?
I think that Meg said that 90% of the time, publishers change the name of your story anyways, so does it really matter?

How long do agents expect your first draft to be?
I think Meg said that for YA its 55,000-60,000 words, is that true for every publisher, or just hers?

Sorry, I've got a bunch of questions that will come to me later, since I'm getting much closer to sending my story out to agents.

Jennie :happy8:

I'll try to answer your questions with what I know. I don't have experience sending my stories out, but I have read a lot about is.
1. This is probably different for every agency. Research the agency you are looking to send your query letter to. On just about every website I have seen, there is a link for requirements. They'll tell you what they want--follow their directions very carefully. Some may want an exerpt, others may not.

2. This one I'm not so sure on, but here's my guess. When you send your query letter, as a first time author, you want to be sending them your best/most completed piece of work. That would probably include a title. You should probably think of a title that works for you and then send the letter.

3. Again, I think this depends on the publisher/agency. Look at their website and maybe you'll find what they expect from YA authors.
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#42 monks

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Posted 16 September 2007 - 01:52 PM

Sorry, but what is a "YA" author/agent?
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#43 the_tall_girl

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Posted 16 September 2007 - 03:27 PM

Author/agent that write/represent Young Adult fiction. I think.
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#44 cheermeon

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Posted 02 October 2007 - 07:08 PM

I just signed to an agent! YAY! I gave her a novella and she liked it. She said that if I could make it longer shed publish it.
-xx Ash

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#45 Bella Catarina

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Posted 02 October 2007 - 08:05 PM

That's amazing!! :D


Kat :spinstar:
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