Agent Ponderings



Last week I received an email from an agent regarding my current manuscript Kranken Gears, a fantasy that’s on submission. It was from an agent who knows I’ve already done several R&Rs (Revise & Resubmit) for other agents. Truly, it’s a bit like the R&R Pokey – put more bad guy in, no take the bad guy out, put more world building in, no now take it all out. Put more of these characters in, no, now take them all out (except for the main), bring the word count up, no bring the word count down…*continues to hum the pokey*

Seriously, they each wanted something incredibly different from the other requests so now there’s multiple flavors of Kranken Gears on my drive.

Don’t misinterpret, there’s nothing wrong with any of these R&R requests. What they’ve done is illuminate the basic truth that readers have individual tastes and that is precisely what editors and agents are at their soft, plushy core – great lovers of books. Readers.

Anyway, I digress, she sent me an email with these lovely, thoughtful insights and suggestions on how to make the novel better. I understood and agreed with her assessments except for one – when she said this probably wasn’t what I wanted to hear. That confused me because she invited me to resend the manuscript once it was revised which made it more of an opportunity than anything else. So I couldn’t figure out why it confused me until tonight whilst pondering her assessments and how to best incorporate them in the Sacred Pool (that’d be my whirlpool where Ideas are born). Water, that great clarifier of thoughts, led me to the answer.

Yes, I want an agent – the right agent. So yes, I one day do want to hear an offer of representation from someone who is the right partner for me and my work to help get the story into the hands of publishers and thus the readers. So, yeah, I do want to hear that.

But. And I mean that but most emphatically – was what she said in this email something I didn’t want to hear?

No. It’s precisely what I wanted, perhaps even needed, to hear because the detailed advice within her email has given me more tools to hone my story, to create the very best I can for my readers so that I can one day hear the words I covet. Words from that most precious of people – readers. They perhaps won’t be said exactly this way but the gist will be the same.

“I love your story! The characters are amazing! They made me forget about <enter any of life’s myriad of maladies here>. Oh, oh! And when will the next book be out? I can’t wait!”

That is what I want to hear.

Any advice that comes along that helps in that endeavor, any amount of revisions, any number of hours in the Sacred Pool devising better ways to immerse the reader in my worlds and stories is what I need to hear or do so that one day some reader out there will send me an email that says –

“Omg! It’s my favorite book!”

The Best Way to Endure Submission Hell



Those of you with submissions out to agents/editors know of what I speak. That indeterminable, roasting hell of waiting for responses that might come right as you’re reading this, or tonight while you dream, or tomorrow, or next week, or next month or next year or the year after that. The query process is bad enough, but when you’re awaiting news on partials and fulls – that’s a whole new breed of purgatory.

It can vex your brain!

So, what can be done to retain what little sanity exists in our writerly worlds?


Yes indeed, that cure to all woes – the pen or keyboard as it were.

While Kranken Gears (fantasy) has been in submissions, I plotted, wrote and revised an urban fantasy novel, Ashes & Bone. It kept me sane during the arduous wait and kept me from incessantly checking my emails for word on the partials and fulls of Kranken Gears that are out. A few agents who have the full of Kranken Gears asked if I have other projects so spending that time writing Ashes & Bone gave me the opportunity to answer them with actual pages instead of some nebulous thoughts on a next project.

So unless you find an agent that’s Hermes fast you can and should complete an entire novel whilst waiting for answers on the first. That’s a win/win if ever there was.

What do you do if you’ve completed that second novel and are still waiting on agents/editors for the first?


Told you it was a cure-all 😉

Easy Pre-Submission Check List



You’ve done it! You’ve slogged through the rough draft, rolled with the punches during revisions, murdered your darlings. Your writing area now looks like a scene out of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But what you’re left with on screen is a work of beauty. Art! Dream on paper errr pixels. Congratulations!

So what’s next? Consult this short, handy check list, that’s what.

1 ) Is your manuscript really finished? If so, does your word count fit within genre standards? If you’re unsure, check these sites: Chuck Sambuchino’s How Long Should a Book Be? and Litrejections’ Word Count.

2 ) Then, even if you think it’s ready, run a quick search on some nit words and eradicate them, if necessary. Sentences with words like had, seemed, felt, that, watched, and just  as well as many ly’s can often be revised to make a more dynamic story. Also search for vanilla description and jazz it up. Vanilla words include but are certainly not limited to: ran, sat, walked, looked etc. anything that doesn’t exactly describe how a character did something or doesn’t show the reader some of the character’s mood or personality.

3 ) Take your agent submissions list and double check those agent facts! They open and close to submissions throughout the year and sometimes change their guidelines, so ensure the ones you plan to send to are currently open AND accept your genre. As in for sure accept it. If in doubt, Google them and read their interviews, check out their blogs, check their Twitters – most will post #mswl (ManuScript Wish List). Stalk it. Know it. Love it. Breaaaaathe it. One of the top complaints I see on agent feeds is the overwhelming number of queries they get for genres they don’t represent. Don’t be among the uninformed.

4 ) Do a final read through on your submission packet – query letter and synopsis included.

5 ) Then, the final moment! Prepare each submission per agent guidelines (found on their site) and let your pretties fly! *cackles*