Jessica Faust, literary agent and cofounder of BookEnds, LLC was the guest at the SOLA meeting this last Saturday. She talked about different topics important to the writer. Here are a few of her comments.
Marketing: As important for the unpublished writer as the published author. Why the unpublished? It gets your name out there. Then when your book is on the self and someone is walking the isle, she'll say, wait, I've heard that name. Same for the published author. How many times have you stopped to pick up an author's book, even though you've never read them, just because the name rang a bell?
The Query: This is your first introduction to the agent. And we've all heard about the importance of first impressions. Don't blow it.
One page only.
Your job is to NOT bore the agent.
This paragraph is your back cover.
Make it a grabber.
Make it professional.
What is your genre?
Who do you compare it with?
My books are similar to... Side note: Do not compare yourself with the dead clasics. No one wants another Falkner or Poe.
Don't get over complicated.
One paragraph hook.
A bad qauery is like going on a job interview with a great resume dressed in ripped jeans and a dirty T-shirt.
List memberships: Being a member of RWA or Sister N Crime,etc, is important. This is your first book, it can be the difference between request for more or rejection. It shows you are serious about your work and know the importance of marketing yourself.
Writing a great book is important, but not enough. What can you do to call attention to your book? Why should anyone pick up yours and not some New York Times best seller?
Look at the bigger picture. Work in a group--knitters, cops, fire fighters, hockey player--as a hero/heroine. (Note: Faust loves bounty hunter stories.)
Generate business:Myspace is useful. Websites: Faust doesn't care if you have one or not. Can be useful for the unpublished author. Make it different, unique, interesting. Keep it updated. If you can't, don't have one.
Bio: No one cares how many kids you have or how wonderful your hubby is. This is business. Keep your bio in that style.
Blog: Keep it either professional or personal, not both. Update at least twice a day. Do not blog if it cuts into your writing time. Be careful what you say about other authors, editors, agents. If could come back and bite you. Don't do reviews of books in your genre. You could offend other readers.
You are the CocoaCola of your own company. Don't ruin your brand with a big mouth.
Don't be a contest whore. Sometimes the winner is just the best of the worst. Don't mention awards on a manuscript older than a year. Agent may think it's been sitting around for so long, something must be wrong with it. Or that you've not written anything else between that time and now.
Never miss a deadline.
Most important thing: Write the next book. Don't sit and worry about what is happening to the one out there. Get started on another. You are a writer. Write.
Faust Likes:ContemporariesRomantic suspenseLoves Dark stories
Non Fiction: No memoirs
She covered a lot more topics, but this blog entry is getting too long. She was a wonderful speaker, kept this writer's attention. She's very personable. Would I like her to be my agent? Silly question. But she's not into my genre. Just my luck.