Forget all the emails about the novels -- THIS is probably the most asked question I get: how do I get my book published? And so, here's my response to a friend's questions. Hope they help. And no matter what, when it does get picked up, send me an invite to the book signing.
1) I already know an agent- he's sort of a family friend. He works exclusively with children's literature. I know he wouldn't be a good person for my novel, since it is clearly NOT children's lit or young adult lit. Is it OK to ask him if he knows any other agents, in this case in the field of romantic fiction? Or is it VERY unprofessional to ask one agent about another?
B: I'm not worried about unprofessional -- I just worry he'll say, "Oh, I'll do it" and then you're ... AWKward. :) Use my trick: go to the hardcover books of authors you like, check their Acknowledgments, and THAT'S how you find good agents.
2) Can you send cover letters explaining the novel to different agents at the same time? Or should you wait until you get rejected to send out another cover letter? What if more then one agent wants to work with you? (That last question is in my WILDEST dreams)
I sent all at once (ten agents max, just in case your letter needs work, so you don't use everyone up at once).
3) What if you get an agent and they can't find a publisher for your book, do you still have to pay them? Do all agents get a cut of the money if you get published?
You should only sign with someone who gets paid only if they sell it (though some ask you to pay minor mail fees, etc, which is fine).
4) What is the turnaround time between sending cover letters out and getting some sort of response? When should I give up on the person and move on. I'm assuming if I never hear from them, that they think my novel will never sell and since they can't say anything nice, they won't
say anything at all.
Usually 6 weeks or so. But when you think about calling them, remember: there's a fine line between enthusiasm and desperation.
The Writing Process:
1) You said on your page that it takes about a year to a year and a half to write a novel.
Is that writing it EVERY day? Doesn't life ever get in the way? Do you ever get annoyed with the characters and just need a break from them?
I write M-F, only these days.
On my first book, I wrote M-TH (8 - 11pm), took off Friday, and wrote
Saturdays and Sundays for 5 hours.
Of course you need a break in the week. Otherwise you'll go nuts.
2) You also said you write a first draft and then you rewrite it.
Besides your wife and Noah, do you show your writing to anyone else?
Is too much feedback a bad thing? So far I've had about four people read bits and pieces of my novel--- the feedback has been good, but I'm worried people just might be being nice to me. Do you ever feel like that?
Of course. When a draft is done, and you've reworked it to a point, show it to 5 friends (who you think won't lie to you). You'll get 5 different opinions, but at the end of the day, you'll start to see the overlap. You can't -- and shouldn't -- listen to everyone. But listen to your gut. You'll know which comments are right. Also, you want it to get to a point where your friends say, "Wow -- I'm really digging it." If they're just saying, "Yeah, it's kinda okay" keep working on it.
3) Does your agent give you pointers about your novel before they start to submit to publishers? Do publishers give you pointers or 'YOU MUST CHANGE THIS OR NO ONE WILL EVER BUY IT!' comments? How perfect does the novel have to be for an agent or a publisher to even look at it?
Yes. And yes. But it's always up to you as to which comments you want to address. One editor once wrote in the margin: "I'm so bored right now, I wanna put a gun in my mouth." Really. And it just has to be good.
4) How LONG should it be? I know that is sort of a loaded question.
But my novel is about 280 MS Word pages (single spaced), which would make it about 560 in novel format. Should I keep it long and let the publisher or agent tell me what to cut or should I just start hacking away at it?
I've written 300, 400, 500. The best rule of writing: there are no rules. If it's good, it's good.
Most important, good luck!