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HOW I GOT MY AGENT -or- ESCAPING THE TRAP OF NOT SUBMITTING
But before I share her post, I want to let you know about her debut novel, AUDITION, that's being released on October 13, 2011. I'll be interviewing Stasia in October and giving away an ARC of her book.
So you get excited like me, here's a blurb from Goodreads:
When high school junior Sara wins a coveted scholarship to study ballet, she must sacrifice everything for her new life as a professional dancer-in-training. Living in a strange city with a host family, she's deeply lonely-until she falls into the arms of Remington, a choreographer in his early twenties. At first, she loves being Rem's muse, but as she discovers a surprising passion for writing, she begins to question whether she's chosen the right path. Is Rem using her, or is it the other way around? And is dancing still her dream, or does she need something more? This debut novel in verse is as intense and romantic as it is eloquent.
Doesn't it sound awesome? So now I'm going to turn over today's post to Stasia.
My debut novel is called AUDITION. Though set in the world of dance, not publishing, “audition” defines a certain type of risk-taking shared by those in print and pointe shoes. You are putting your blood-sweat-and-tears effort out there in hopes that someone finds your work special enough to help you hone it, improve it and, ultimately, share it with the world. It’s an ulcer-inducing process.
In my years as a performer, I’d figured out how to handle winning or losing a stage role. Yet I wasn’t sure I had the emotional strength to subject my novels to similar scrutiny. So, for a long time, I was a writer-who-rarely-submitted. Are you? There are an astonishing number of us.
However, to make it from writer-of-manuscripts to agented author, you’ve gotta get out of this club. The stories of the myriad conferences I attended and MANY manuscripts I put in the drawer before I sent AUDITION out could make a novel in their own right. Now that I’ve gotten past my hurdles, I’d like to share a few tips that may help you make your escape.
1. Find beta readers. While classes or critique groups are terrific, having someone read your ms cover-to-cover provides a different kind of feedback and support to the timid submitter. For me, I really need a person to say “I read the whole thing and it doesn’t suck.”
2. Do your homework. Make a list of agents you ADORE. I used the information at Literary Rambles a lot. The “quotable” and “buzz” sections of Agent Spotlights gave me a sense of agents’ particular kinds of book passion, making me more confident that I was reaching out to the right people. The first time I read about my agent was at this site.
3. Set deadlines. There comes a point where honing that query letter is just a way to avoid the scary next step. So, write these: My query will be finished by Friday. ..My agent list will be finalized Sunday…I will query my top three agents on Tuesday—before lunch. A timeline keeps emotional obstacles out of the way.
4. Keep writing. It may be hard with those nervous fingers and (if you’re like me) the intense nausea, but do it. For non-submitters, writing is a comfort zone. Writing while on submission to agents and, later, to editors, is a way to remind yourself that the process is still there for you.
When I finally took the plunge, I received multiple offers of representation and spent an agonizing week making my choice and apologizing to all the other lovely, amazing agents whom, I realized, were as anxious as me about the whole thing. This also leads me to my final tip…
5. Dare to escape the trap of non-submitting. You will certainly learn from the experience. And you may end up very glad you sent your words out on their audition!
Good luck, buy Tums, and happy writing.
Stasia Ward Kehoe’s debut novel, AUDITION, will be published by Viking/Penguin on 10-13-11. Visit her online at her website. She’s currently in the process of revising her next novel and working up the courage to send it to her agent!
Posted by Natalie Aguirre on Wednesday, July 27, 2011