Okay, so after 4 years of reading, researching, note-taking, sitting-and-thinking, writing, drafting, redrafting, deleting, polishing and proof-reading, I have finally finished the first novel in my planned series of nine novels set during Hollywood’s heyday. Book One opens in 1927 at the birth of the talkies and Book Nine closes in 1959 at the death of the movie studio system.
But that only means I’ve taken the first step on the Road to Publication. The next step? Convince a literary agent to read the first few chapters. If they like what they read, they’ll ask to see the rest. If they like that, they’ll offer to represent my work to potential publishing houses. And then…well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Contacting literary agents is done by what’s called a ‘query letter’ which must be:
(a) succinct…the first commandment of query letters is, ‘Thou shalt not exceed one page.’
(b) professional…no scented, pink notepaper or chocolates – no matter how expensive or delicious
(c) memorable…literary agents receive up to 100 of these letters each week so yours had damn well better stand out
(d) convincing…with 100 of these to go through each week they’re just looking for an excuse to say “No thanks!”
(e) intriguing…the aim of the query letter is to get them to say, “Send me your first three chapters.”
(f) relevant…if the only sort of author they represent writes books on politics and religion why would you waste everyone’s time, patience and postage stamps asking them to represent your novel about 1920s Hollywood?
AND I need to accomplish all of this in three paragraphs on one page. But aside from that, really, there’s no pressure. Needless to say, pulling this off is an art form unto itself. So on the pages of this blog I’m going to share with you my process as I work my way down a carefully-filtered list of literary agents with whom I think I might be a good match. Wish me luck – any and all comments are welcome!