What #Literary Agents Do (And Don’t Do) For #Writers

Querying a good literary agent is the first step in getting your novel or book project into the hands of a publisher. What is a literary agent? A literary agent is the middleman between you and potential publishers—they are your best hope for getting your book published. But what does a literary agent actually do for a writer? And what don’t they do?

What literary agents do:

1. A literary agent’s top job is to find an editor who likes your book enough to buy it. Reputable literary agents have a wide network of contacts and relationships with acquisition editors at publishing houses. They know what the editors are looking for, and they’re experts at sending your submissions to the right people. Because editors know that submissions by literary agents have already made it through a stringent screening process, agented submissions usually go to the top of the pile.

Literary agents will NOT purchase the rights to your book and then turn around and try to sell your book to publishers. Nor can they promise to sell your book.

2. Literary agents pitch your book project to publishers and try to get you the best deal. It is in their best interest to negotiate lucrative contracts with publishers, as literary agents work on commission (usually 15 percent). They also manage your business affairs with the publisher once the deal goes through—contract disputes, royalty statements, collecting money—leaving you on good terms with the editor and freeing up your time to write.

Literary agents are NOT always attorneys, but they do specialize in book contracts and are well-versed in authors’ rights.

3. A good literary agent will often edit or critique a manuscript and offer valuable suggestions to increase its marketability. BUT you should never query an agent unless you have a completed, professionally formatted, and carefully proofread novel or memoir in hand. (Only how-to and self-help books can be pitched without having been finished first.)

Literary agents do NOT offer line-by-line edits or make rewrites. It’s up to the writer to incorporate the agent’s suggested changes. Agents are not interested in helping you master the art of writing. Their focus is on the business of writing, as in “How can this book sell the most copies?” Read more about how to hire the right editor for your writing.

4. Literary agents are authors’ advocates. They don’t make money unless you make money, so their goal is to get you the best deal. Most reputable agents will make a commission of 15 percent for domestic sales. They offer encouragement and support and help keep you on track with deadlines and rewrites. They can also help shape your career by suggesting new ideas, finding wider audiences, and keeping you abreast of changes and trends in the publishing industry.

Literary agents are NOT tax consultants, publicists, personal bankers, or writing coaches. They often offer moral support, but they are not interested in being your therapist. They will not handle your advertising and marketing. And they’re certainly not interested in being your personal answering service.

It’s up to the writer to take advantage of all the services a good literary agent can offer. As an author’s ally, a good literary agent can make a writer’s life more successful and rewarding.

This article has been reprinted with the permission of Writer’s Relief, an author’s submission 
service that has been helping creative writers make submissions since 1994.  Their work is 
highly recommended in the writing community, and there are TONS of freebies, publishing 
leads, and writers resources on their website. Check it out!
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Happy #Birthday To Me!!!

Today is the 5th birthday of my 39th year. 😉  I am so grateful for this day and for the awesome (and not so awesome) experiences that have gotten me to this point in life.

Looking back over the years, I have fond memories of the people and places that helped shape my life.  The good times playing in the snow, reciting verses in Christmas and Easter pageants, cheerleading, band, and so much more.

 

 

 

 

 

The lessons learned and the avenues to help me grow into the woman I am today.  The wisdom from my elders, employers, church leaders, and loved ones in the community.

 

 

 

 

 

Family and friends that loved me when I haven’t always been lovable. Who have supported me through thick and thin.

 

 

 

 

 

For all of this my gratitude goes through the roof to the moon.  God has truly blessed me and I look forward to all He has in the years ahead.

How To Find Short #Story #Ideas In Your Own Life

Is your short story idea well running dry? Fear not! New short story ideas might be closer than you think! Your life is full of ideas for fiction—you’ve just got to know where to look. Start with our suggestions.

5 Ways To Find Ideas For Short Stories Based On Your Own Life

1. Order up a slice of life. Many writers come up empty when trying to think of story ideas because they’re focusing on traditional story arcs. The fact is, life rarely offers neat little narrative packages that are gift-wrapped with easy conflict resolutions and clearly rendered characters. Fortunately, every short story doesn’t have to have a neat, traditional ending. You can write a short exploration of a scene, idea, or character—as opposed to a whole story. Slice-of-life vignettes are trending right now with lit mag editors; find out more about how to write good slice-of-life stories.

2. Make a scene. Physical places are rife with inherent conflict and problems that are just waiting to appear. You might discover a good story idea in your own backyard, the local park, or the mall—maybe even at the neighborhood senior housing center or hospital. Trees fall. So does rain. So do people. All of this has consequences for your characters, your setting, and your town. Learn more about scene and craft.

3. What a character! Think of the colorful people you know. Readers (including literary magazine editors and agents) love larger-than-life characters. Uncle Joe, who claims he was abducted by aliens. Aunt Dee, who talks more to her parrot than to her neighbors. Great stories often start with great characters.

4. Be afraid. Be very afraid. What are you afraid of? What’s the worst thing that could happen to you right now? What would stop you from reaching your goals? Your answers will reveal great story ideas, full of realistic conflict and emotional authenticity. Don’t be afraid to exploit your own fears. Learn how to write with fearful bravery!

5. Listen up. With every conversation, people are telling you stories. If you’ve watched the latest reboot of Sherlock (courtesy of the BBC), then you’ve seen how the titular detective can look over a person and deduce intimate secrets of that person’s life based on the smallest physical cues (a dog hair on the cuff of black pants, cracked nails, etc.). As a writer, you can do the same. Study the people you talk to. And remember—what you can’t glean, you can always invent.

One Last Warning: The Paradox Of “But It Really Happened”

Often, when a new writer hears a critique group member complain, “This doesn’t feel like it could really happen,” the author might reply, “But it did!” Here’s the problem with that logic: Whether or not a story feels true is actually more important than if it is true. Even if Uncle Joe really was abducted by aliens or Aunt Dee’s parrot truly can hold sophisticated conversations about classic literature, your story will fail if readers don’t buy into the truth of it. Listen carefully to readers’ reactions. And remember: there’s always more where that idea came from—your real life is replete with inspiration for fiction.
 

This article has been reprinted with the permission of Writer’s Relief, an author’s submission 
service that has been helping creative writers make submissions since 1994.  Their work is 
highly recommended in the writing community, and there are TONS of freebies, publishing 
leads, and writers resources on their website. Check it out!

Kurt Vonnegut’s eight rules for #writing a short story

When story ideas pop in my head, I jot them down in hopes of creating a wonderful novel. But as my list has grown tremendously, I realize that there’s just not enough time to devote to all in a way that would give them justice.

Enter the short story.

I’ve created a few short stories here on the blog, but for whatever reason I limited my time to only work on novels. Well that mindset changed this year.  As I review my list of ideas, I’m handpicking those that would be best served as a short story. Kurt Vonnegut’s eight rules for writing a short story is yet another welcomed tool to help with that.

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Kurt Vonnegut, one of the most influential writers of this century, passed down a simple list of rules for writing a short story, though I think they can be applied to longer narratives as well.

He did say that Flannery O’Connor broke all his rules except the first and that great writers tend to do that, but I believe his famous eight rules can provide a skeleton to writing fiction.

And I think that this is what’s really important in art. A foundation. Simply by reading or following rules, or by taking creative writing courses, but it’s also crucial for the artist to make his own decisions. The moment rules start feeling like a cage, you should escape. It’s like strolling through a garden and picking the flowers you like. If you absorb too much or if you simply follow rules (someone else is choosing what flowers you should pick)…

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Anne R. Allen’s Blog: 25 Must-Read #Tips on Plotting from Top #Authors and #Editors

I’ve gone through old blog posts and found gems that slipped my mind.  This post from Anne R. Allen is certainly one of them.  Great advice and wonderful insight for every writer to consider.  Enjoy!

Photo: Deposit Photos

Melanie V. Logan

I love Anne R. Allen’s blog.  She provides a wealth of information helpful to writers and bloggers.  If you haven’t checked her out, stop what you’re doing and run right over. 🙂

This week’s tip comes from Anne R. Allen’s Blog: 25 Must-Read Tips on Plotting from Top Authors and Editors. These tips and quotes have been helpful for me while I write my first book.  What may have made sense in my head about moving from one scene to another or situation to another, it may not translate to the reader.

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To #Show Don’t Tell or Not to Show Don’t #Tell, That is the Question

An oldie, but a goody. Which side of the fence are you on?

Melanie V. Logan

In the course of honing my writing skills, I have come across a number of posts and articles on “show don’t tell” like this. Most support the idea, but there are some that don’t. For someone new to writing or trying to improve, this can send a confusing signal – like it did me. But in researching and trying some exercises, I have a better understanding on each and their purpose in a story.

I finally got a chance to dig into my second draft. Going back over a couple of chapters, I could clearly see that I was doing a lot of telling with little showing. What I wrote got

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The Future of #Writing: Will Artificial Intelligence Replace Humans in Deciding the Fate of Manuscript Submissions?

This quote from Georgina Cromarty’s post about writing and artificial intelligence practically blew my mind.

“Some writers will see AI manuscript evaluations as a blessing since it takes the subjective human out the loop.

…And some may see it as a threat.”

Yes, I’ve worked in the IT field for 20+ years.  Yes, I understand what the ones and zeros are all about, and the inner workings of software and hardware.  Yes, I know technology brings about modern convenience, and can spout an answer to the hardest equations with speed and ease.  But with all of that, do I trust it wholly?  No!  Here’s why.

Mankind believes computers are smart.  The reality is that technology is only as great as the humans that make it.  And of course we know that humans are bound to mistakes.  So, technology is too.  Nothing is perfect.

So when I think about artificial intelligence playing a role in evaluating manuscripts, a smile crosses my face because it means the process of submitting and getting a response will be shortened.  But then my smile fades, and my head cocks to one side like a questioning puppy.  What algorithm is used to decide what’s publish-worthy and what’s not?  How often is the artificial intelligence maintained and updated for optimal performance?

I get it from a productivity perspective. There’s a lot of reading and publishers want to watch their bottom line.  Technology can help, but in the end will it really?  When people read, they have the ability to experience feeling and emotion.  Can technology do that?  Of course not.  It can only do what it is told (and even then it’s not the real thing). So an award-winning manuscript may never see the light of day because it didn’t meet the criteria of a computer.   Not sure I like that.  What are your thoughts?

Check out the rest of  Georgina Cromarty’s post on other interesting takes on artificial intelligence and it’s place in various industries.