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Archive for the ‘DOV’ Category

So, you’ve got your pitch down, your synopses written, and the samples all arranged. Your manuscript is in Standard Manuscript Format. No? Well, go look at the first post in this series, and make it so, Numbah Won!

I guess this means you are ready to get your work published. If you are going Traditional, this means going through an agent. So, where do you go find an agent? You’ve read the free advice from Writer’s Digest, you’ve checked out free sites like QueryTracker.net and AgentQuery.com, and you’ve even gone as far as looked up agent names in the Acknowledgements of your favorite author’s books sitting in your bookshelf. But, but, there’s so much data it’s ridiculous! How can you tell the good from the bad?

FULL DISCLOSURE: I do NOT have an agent. I have submitted a full novel to agents and publishers, so at least I have that experience. The steps I recommend below are the ones I am actually using going forward. If it makes sense for you, feel free to use it!

The traditional publishing world is in tremendous flux, and will be for some time. Agents to whom I have submitted my work, or have had some great discussions, are no longer working as agents. You will have to do some homework, as do I. Let’s see if we can reduce the amount you have to do.

Generating an agent list. There are a lot of free resources out there to assist you in this. One of the best, in my opinion, is QueryTracker.net. You can generate lists of agents from a variety of metrics. Free users have only a few, Premium users have a lot more. I’ll just give you the Free user perspective. My book, Demons on Vacation, falls under Adult Urban Fantasy, which isn’t actually a genre. Fantasy is, though. But don’t limit yourself. The book is funny (I think so, at least), so I’m going after Humor/Satire. There’s another category called “Quirky/Offbeat”, so sure, I’ll check that one out, too. On QT, you can only select one genre at a time. So, here’s how to get your agent list pronto:

  1. Select a genre. Use that checkbox that hides agents closed to queries.
  2. You will get pages of agents. Highlight the page, then cut and paste the page to Notepad. [Premium members can export to CSV, I’m doing the cheap method]
  3. Delete all lines that aren’t agents. Use semicolons to separate the agent and the agency, then delete the rest of the line. Save as a text file.
  4. Repeat 2-3 for every page in the genre search. Repeat 1-3 for every genre you intend to search on. At the end, combine all these text files into a single one and save it as a .csv file.
  5. Open the csv file in Excel, chose delimited, and you should get two columns, agent in one, agency in the second.
  6. Add a column, start at 1, and consecutively number each agent record.  I always do this in case I have to sort things in their original order.  Save file in native Excel format.
  7. Copy the worksheet to a second worksheet, delete the number and agent column.  Under the Data tab, select ‘Remove duplicates’ and select the agency column. You now have your list of unique agencies. Save the file.

For my book, I collected 192 agents, from 132 unique agencies.

This task should take between 1-2 hours, depending on your computer skillz. This is your most important file—it is the list of agents and agencies to which you will be submitting your work. But which one gets to see your work first? Read on.

Rating Agencies. How to rate agents and agency?  The answer to that is “it depends on what you think is important”. Here are my factors:

There are a lot more: Do they have success stories on QT? Who do they represent? Is the Absolute Write community giving them thumbs up? However, every new grading criterion means researching that question for every agency on your list. I stopped at four, because I didn’t want to get paralyzed looking just at data.

The actual data lookup was about three hours. Preditors and Editors also rates agencies: Highly Recommended, Recommended, or Warning. I added two other ratings: listed and not listed. PredEd also uses a $ for ‘recent sales’ and AAR for membership in the AAR. So, yeah, it went quick. I used Google to query the name of the agency (in quotes) and employed the site limiter, so a typical search string would be

“The Patterson Agency” site:sfwa.org

 Now I have all these columns filled out with data, what do I do about them? They give us clues about the agency—clues we can use to determine just how desirable it is to query a particular agency. Here’s my priority data-to-score table:

Test Points
PredEd Highly Recommended: 0
PredEd Recommended: 10
PredEd listed: 20
PredEd not listed: 50
PredEd warning: 90
Recent Sales AND AAR: 1
Recent Sales 2
AAR: 3
Neither recent nor AAR: 4
Agency Principal deceased: 9

Least number of points = most desirable. It’s easy, if you use the Filter option in Excel to display records based on cell values.

Now that the agencies are scored, I can easily choose which ones I want to approach. Next up, how to choose the agent within the agency for querying.

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I’m not going to be listing every single submittal to an agent for this work. That would run to the several dozen, if I am even averagely competent.

However, the first one is noteworthy. The agent for the First Test Flight was kind and gracious.  She wanted to read the first 25 pages, although she didn’t work in the genre.  She even farmed it out to a couple of agents in her agency, but they passed on it, as they also didn’t work in the genre.  So, she rejected it.

But in her rejection email, she said this:

Have you tried someone in [Agency A] yet? She has a wonderful agency with several agents who represent sci-fi/fantasy. [Agency B] is also a good one for your work.

You’re a terrific writer and I’m sure you’ll find a good home for this.

Now, if the very first agent you query gives you feedback like that, how can you do anything other than keep plugging away at getting representation?  Thank you so much for your faith in my work!

Test Flight #2 has commenced.

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Well, National Novel Writing Month is over (except for the TGIO party in 11 hours), and I will have a bit more time to devote to writing.  Some status updates are in order:

National Novel Writing Month I am the Municipal Liaison for the Central NJ Region of NaNo.  This involves plenty of things, thus taking time away from writing and other writerly chores.   I also, as the ML, also have to write a 50k novel.  For that, I have chosen to work on expanding my 3DN Riddled Space entry from 2010 to a full-blown novel.  Instead of rewriting it, I chose the strategy of writing bachstory and redoing some scenes, with the intent of redrafting the novel from scratch, pasting it up from those two source documents.  I’ll document how it’s working here.

DOV Test Flight: It was submitted to an agent I met through Pitchaplaooza.  Although they didn’t work in the book’s genre, the pitch appealled to them, and they offered to read it and pass it on.  I got the feedback Thursday, and it was, on the whole, very positive.  Although they and their agency did not deal in SF/Fantasy, I received not only two further references, but permission to use their name when pitching to one of the references.  That is huge.  DOV may still fail to get representation even with that boost up the ladder, but the best part came with the closing line: “You’re a terrific writer and I’m sure you’ll find a good home for this.”  That is the next major task: researching the agents and sending DOV out.

Submissions:  I’ve been exceptionally lax in this area, what with getting DOV flight-ready and doing the whole NaNo ML gig.  But I did generate a Ray Bradbury pastiche that I am moderately fond of, and sent it off with six hours to spare.  I have not been as assiduous with getting my previously rejected works back out on the street, with the exception of my Poe story.  I sent it off to a market with a rather quick turn-around time, but they kept it for about three weeks.  That either meant that they were thiiiiis close to accepting it, or it was stuck behind the electronic filing cabinet and they found it, like a 1943 postcard lost in the post office.  Well, Poe is back, and I’m thinking of where to send it next.

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First Test Flight

DOV has launched on its first test flight!!

OK, what does that mean, in English, please!

In 2007, the plot for DOV fell into my head while I was registering for the National Novel Writing Month.  Not every detail, of course.  Just the major features.  That is what hooked me on writing.

Well, at the end of Nov 2007, I had 50k+ of a pretty interesting work.  But I had other things I had put off during my month of madness.  So, DOV sat.  And sat.  Until 2011.  That’s when the NaNo folks put together their “Camp NaNoWriMo”  I decided to go hardcore, and write for July AND August until I finished the work.  Which I did, weighing in at 160k+  It was filled with duplications, as I rewrote passages from the 2007 work, as well as stuff in July.

Then came the flensing.  The editting.  The tightening.  The passes mentioned in this blog.  All in all, it took nearly a year from August 2011 to have the novel ready to submit.

And now I have.  I am excited, I am terrified.  I have put a lot of time and effort into this work–I just hope it catches the eye of an agent, and from there a publisher.

But DOV has taken wing on its First Test Flight.  I will keep you updated.

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It was the hardest editting job I have done yet.  But it’s done.  I wonder if I can get through the day.

No, it’s not the DOV work.

There was a contest a few months ago where I wrote a ream of story.  About 9000 words, but I ran out of steam on it, and never submitted it.  I started getting squeezed by a deadline on another contest when I realized that it would be easier to chop up the 9k story than write one from scratch.

What was I thinking?  Chop a 9k story to 3.5k in a week?

I had it down to 6.2k on the 25th.  As of 7pm last night, I had to sweat 2500 words off the story.  10pm…1k to excise….midnight…600 words…1am…200…It was like doing liposuction on Kate Moss–I was already down to bone in some spots.

Finally, at 2:37 in the morning, I finished with three words to spare.  3497!  I just sent it off.  Next to this, the rest of the DOV novel will be easy!

Real Life Oddness:  That original 9k story?  I wrote another one for that contest and submitted it, instead.  I got the rejection email yesterday.

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Pass 7 Progress Report

I am currently on page 310 of the 460 page work (67% completed)  Some lessons learned so far:

  1. There are STILL errors in the manuscript.  I don’t mean fiddling things like a missing period.  A bit character had his name suddenly change from ‘A’ to ‘B’ within five paragraphs.  Lesson:  Even your Alpha readers will miss things.
  2. Keep a close eye on your tenses.  They will change on you
  3. Pay attention to the flow of your prose.  This means read long stretches of prose at a time.  I have detected many ‘speed bumps’ along the way, and have chopped out poorly constructed sentences.
  4. I continuously find repetitious verbiage in my writing.  Not so much words repeating, although there is some of that.  But I find bloat in phrases that repeat the same thing as the setting.
  5. When Robert Heinlein was told to cut Stranger In A Strange Land (so the story goes), he went through the entire work, cutting one or two words out of every sentence.  This is a great idea.

The goal to finish Pass 7 is 8/3.  Then it’s off to the agent.

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Pass #6 Complete!

Thank you for following me, all of you who have signed up recently.  I hope to generate more content soon.

But, as you can tell by the title, Pass #6 is complete, Pass #7 is well underway.  What are these passes?  They refer to my second novel, which I refer to as DOV here.

The novel was started as my very first National Novel Writing Month work, back in November of 2007.  I got to something like 54,000 words in that first month.  Then it….languished.  I made abortive attempts to continue it for some time afterwards, until the very first Camp NaNoWriMo, in July of 2011.  I did Camp NaNo in August as well, finishing the original writing entirely in December of 2011.

Pass 1 merely involved putting all of these disparate manuscrit fragments together. 

Pass 2 was an initial read and chainsaw operation, where the rough manuscript took shape.  Of the 160k+ words, roughly 35k were cut out entirely.

Pass 3 was a further refining of the story line, with most of the “look this up later’ notes to myself were eliminated.

Pass 4 was a more refining, with even more of the notes removed.  Timelines (winter/summer) and travel times were rationalized.

Pass 5 was a spelling and grammar check.  At this point (March, 2012) it was ready to print.  500 pages, 120k words. 

Pass 6: The Alpha-Reader Cut:  The Wonderful Wife ™ and son both read the mss and made comments.  More chunks were excised and other changes were made.  The work was shrunk down to 101k.  This finished on 7/19/2012.

Pass 7 begins now.  This is the Final, Final cut before it goes out to the agent.  My goal is to get this done and out by the end of the month.

 

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