Three hundred and eighty

Wow!  It has been quite the week.  Besides a hectic “first patio day of the year and therefore a completely s__t-show” (working not drinking) at the pub which left me feeling like a shell of a human being void of all soul, emotion, energy or drive to do anything, it’s been an educational and tough-in-a-good-way few days.  I started writing the book, beginning with the prologue and back story of why I started this project in the first place, using my parents’ house in the country as inspiration.  I came back to an amazing meeting with the literary agent I spoke about last week.  I love her!  She’s very calming, put together (both great traits to play off my occasional manic tendencies), and really passionate about her job.

We talked a lot about the role of the agent in the ever-changing publishing industry.  I know a lot of people who read this blog are writers, so therefore I’ll tell you what I understood from our conversation in hopes that you can learn from the information as well.  The agent is now as much of an editor, as someone who eventually pitches your work to editors at publishing companies.  What happens in steps is:

  • A writer sends a query to an agent to see whether the agent will represent the writer
  • If the agent is interested, they meet, the agent reads more of the writing and they decide if they will work together
  • The writer then writes the book or sections of the book and sends it/them to the agent
  • The agent edits and they work together to develop the book into almost ready-to-publish form
  • The agent then researches editors at publishing companies that would fit well with that particular writer
  • The agent sends out manuscripts (or parts of manuscripts – I’m still a little iffy on this step) to editors and waits for usually around 3-6 months, or maybe more, to hear back.
  • The agent also approaches editors at three majors book fairs across the world.
  • If or when the book gets published, the agent takes a percentage of what the publisher offers the writer.  This is how the agent gets paid.

This is how I understand it – although I’m just starting out and by no means an expert in any of this.  But I thought it would be interesting for you all to follow along on my thought process as well and help inspire you if you’re thinking about writing a book.

In my case, because the agent approached me, I don’t send a query.  However, yesterday I sent her the prologue I have written and she is going to read it, see if we are still on the same page in terms of what we both want from this book and how my book writing style is (versus blog writing – a completely different skill set), and then we go from there.  It’s pretty nerve-racking sending her what I’ve written. You think I’d get used to sharing my words with other people after blogging every day for a year, but it’s still hard.  It’s like sharing a little piece of your soul and waiting to hear back if someone likes it or not. Yesterday I spent the night at work trying not to dwell on the fact that the agent could possibly hate it.  Although it’s probably better than sitting at home refreshing my e-mail every ten minutes to see if anything came through!

Writing the book is different than writing the blog and I’m working on my description and dialogue skills.  And of course not letting my doubts, insecurities and nervousness get in the way of the writing.  I am not letting fear stop me from writing this book.  Although, it’s going to be even harder because the book is my personal journey behind the blog posts.  And sharing my personal life has always been the hardest part for me.

Anytime I doubt myself, though, I look through all the encouraging comments from my post a couple weeks ago and I remember this:

Thank you!  (And of course, I write it out, like I just did in this blog post and what I’m doing in the book.  I feel much better now.).

8 thoughts on “Three hundred and eighty

  1. That’s all good news. I got close with an agent a few years ago, but she ultimately passed on the project, saying “she liked it, but didn’t love it enough to offer it a contract.” I still took it as a good sign. And then my son was born and the writing life went on hold.

    It’s cool that you’ve been able to turn your blog into a book. I’m not looking to do that (which is good, since I don’t have any particular project in mind that would attract an agent’s attention). Feel free to throw some dialogue examples up on the blog if you want feedback. Dialogue is one area where I shine; I struggle with description and pacing, but I’m getting better. I’ve got a good ear, though. And for what it’s worth, Flannery O’Connor dialogue is some of the best out there. She gets pegged with the Southern lit tag (rightly so, I suppose) but man, her characters come to life when they speak.

    • Thanks Robert. I think it’s a good sign too – if this particular agent and I end up working together or not. There are always other options, or more work to make it a more attractive book for selling. It doesn’t make it any less nerve-racking, though! Or any easier.

      I’m working on the dialogue. I’m not bad, just learning. I know what everyone sounds like – it’s just making that come off the page, like you said. I don’t know Flannery O’Connor, but I will check her out. Thanks. And thanks for the offer to help. I might have to take you up on that if I get stuck!

  2. Thank you for sharing! Very insightful, and I’m looking forward to reading more about the journey! And feel free to share what differences and/or challenges there are transitioning from blog to book writing styles? 😀

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