Monday, April 25, 2011
Food For Thought! Or- Will the Spaghetti Stick?
I'm sending out queries right now. It’s the first time I'm seriously doing the research and crafting each query letter specifically to the literary agent's requirement. It arduous and time consuming, but without this step they will consider my letter "a mass mailing" and therefore delete me in one swift flick of a finger. In the past I might have half-heartedly sent out one or two, maybe a dozen query letters back before electronic queries were around (or at least before I knew about them). Now, with this fourth overhaul of my ms I'm seriously trying to find a literary agent to be my representative and sell my book/s. Seriously! No, really! So every time a blog comes up that has anything to do with, what else? finding an agent, my little ears perk up and I read, read, read.
Today, the author formerly known as the literary agent Nathan Bransford made up a new term that really struck a chord with me. I've been making lists, checking websites, getting a deeper understanding of the querying wants, likes and dislikes, what they've published, and who literary agents are currently representing. While most literary agencies have websites, there have been a few who don't, for whatever reason--and they concern me. Are they legitimate literary agents, or just playing at it part-time? Every so often I wonder how many writers the agents sign into their corral that never get published, whether they have a cool website or not.
Bransford said, "What's a spaghetti agent? . . . Basically, you know that phrase throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks? That's a spaghetti agent. They sign up a bunch of writers even when they're unsure about a project, they throw the manuscripts at publishers, and they see what sticks.”
Since I began the querying process, I’ve depended on the basic premise that literary agents know what they’re doing. I’m I being naive? The more I read about the business side of writing the more I realize how much I have to learn. Bransford suggests we ask questions before signing any contract—good questions, I think, like, how long are they willing to keep my work on submission? There are sub-rights and foreign rights to work out, and career shaping to agree upon.
“Ultimately,” Bransford said, “The agent is the author's advocate. They help the author become more successful and work tirelessly to advance the author's career.”
I don’t want to be one of the undercooked spaghetti noodles falling unwanted to the floor. I want to be kept in the pot of boiling water until I’m ready to dished out in all my glimmering glory. The right literary agent can do that.