Saturday, December 18, 2010

How to Get an Agent

Once you recover, try this:

Beyond the basic stuff such as researching an agent's particulars, and writing a concise query letter and blah....blah....blah, are a few unique considerations that may make a positive diference.

Here it is.

Seduce your agent from the very start. You may not write a great query letter. So what? Did you write a good story is a better question. If you really believe so, center your sample chapter around the character. Introduce the most controversial aspect of your charcter. Do NOT fear controversy. If the agent doesn't like it then she is probably not the right agent for your book. This is important because there is something special and elegant about writing the query in your own voice. The reader will know you are authentic.  In a different post on this blog, I wrote about how to seduce your reader, subliminally. That's a great approach to acquire and maintain readers interest, but it is highly inappropriate and utterly ineffective toward grasping an agent's attention. This is no time to be shy. A direct hit is in order. Go directly after the agent with specific delineation of character development from the first line of your query and introduce the chapter that best exemplify this point.

For example, in the Doctor's Vice, I forwarded a chapter that delineates the most controversial aspect of the main character, Smitty. Through the dialogue of only six sentences my agent saw right away that Smitty is a psycopath. Many agents rejected the story because of it. That's good. In fact, that was a turning point towards acquiring the right agent. It's a good thing because she rejected the story for all the right reasons: she did not represent what I know thrillers (the genre) to be; therefore, she was not the right agent for my book. This may sound cocky, but in reality it reflects my commitment to both the story and the genre. Believe in your work and take no prisoners. I did not change my story and rightfully so. As I write, an agent is considering my novel because she represent classic thrillers.

Prior to speaking with this agent, I had a call from an agent who straddled the fence. She liked the story but was not sure if it were too graphic. Because my story had been reviewed by a few thriller writers whom I respect, I stuck to my guns and concluded this agent was not right for me either. True commitment often comes off as self-centered tyranny, but if you don't believe in your story, who will?  Obviously, I am open to making modifications that does not dilute the story. I am open to criticism, however, I will not make changes that are not consistent to the feel of the story.

Write the best story in you and stick to it. In time, the right agent will discover you.


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