I wanted to do this series as a vlog, but since I have no clue how to rig that up, for now, I’ll use my words.
Mistakes…if you’re anywhere along this writing road, you’ve made some. I’ve made quite a few. Today, I just wanted to talk about one newbie mistake that should be quite self-evident.
Don’t ignore the guidelines of the agency you’re querying.
There was a recent post at Steve Laube’s blog about this, http://stevelaube.com/why-do-i-have-to-jump-through-your-hoops/.
When I first started querying, I laughed in the face of danger. More like, I laughed in the face of agency guidelines. If they’d ask for a mere query, I’d think What’s wrong with sending them the first chapter, pasted along with my query? After all, that first chapter is KILLER. Shoot, why don’t I just send those first three chapters? That’ll blow their socks off.
WRONG. Problem is, some agents won’t even open a document that has a bunch of stuff pasted into it. Query-length stuff, yes, but not those first chapters.
And what about those agencies that requested a proposal, along with your initial query e-mail?
Since I wasn’t quite sure that my make-shift proposal looked right, I’d just send the query and sample chapters. I figured that once the agents took my writing prowess seriously, they’d beg to see that proposal. At that point, I would grant them access to my (feeble attempt at a) proposal.
And synopses!? Don’t get me started. Somewhere I’d read online that a synopsis could be six pages. Which turned into about twelve pages, double-spaced. I give kudos to any agent who managed to sludge through that lengthy attempt at capturing every last one of my lovely characters, even the not-so-important ones.
(Hint–For your synopsis, just focus on those MAIN characters, since the MC and his/her closest peeps are the ones we’ll be following through your book).
I wish I could say that I’m now a querying/editing/writing expert, but for goodness’ sake, I learn something new almost every day of this arduous writing journey.
But please save yourself some newbie time and trouble by following, to the best of your ability, those agency guidelines. Agents will notice your respect for their requirements–after all, they’ve put some thought into the exact things they want to see from you (and *understatement of the year*, each agency is unfortunately very different!).
They might not find your MC “compelling” or your storyline “something they can represent at this time,” but at least they’ll see that you’re willing to work with guidelines to get your stuff out there.
***Have any of you, my faithful followers, blatantly (or inadvertently) ignored agency guidelines? Did it work out for you or not?