Saturday, September 25, 2010

Agents, Aspiring Authors & Eloisa James

Note: I wrote this in 2005 when I worked as an advice columnist for the Asbury Park Press. I updated some of the writing resources though - I couldn't help it!  

Q: I recently finished writing a fiction novel and was wondering how to go about getting it published.
Sue, 30, West Long Branch

A: I was very excited to receive this question because it gave me the perfect opportunity to interview New York Times best-selling author, Eloisa James. Her first book was picked up by Harper Collins - something that was accomplished with the help of an agent. How? The agent submitted James' book to a few publishers, a bidding war ensued, and voila! Eloisa James was in print.
(Sigh). Sounds like a fairy tale, right? 

Sure it does. But it's not always that easy for an aspiring, unknown writer to snag a deal. Even James, who's penned
 18 books and three novellas so far, began in obscurity. Her advice?

"You need to find an agent," said James. "Many of the best publishers will not accept unagented manuscripts."

The blinding reality is that getting an agent is harder than getting a publisher, James said. To get an agent, you need to a write a query letter asking him or her to represent you. An agent will be your cheerleader and know where to pitch your book.

"(Agents) notice what editors have developed an interest in what (genre)," James said.

Make sure to target agents who are interested in your particular genre. Sending your science-fiction manuscript to an agent who loves westerns will get a big N-O from the OK Corral.

"Literary Marketplace" is considered the Yellow Pages of the publishing industry. It has the names, addresses and preferences of hundreds of agents and publishers. It also is a whopping $300. A less expensive resource (about $20) is "Guide to Literary Agents 2011" by Chuck Sambuchino. 

Before writing to every agent you find, do some research about what a query letter entails. This letter is the one thing agents use to judge your writing voice and style. In it, include the name of the manuscript, genre, word count, a book synopsis and a paragraph about yourself stating any previous published works and, of course, what makes your book different.
(More about query letters from Writers Digest)

James said that a person who has finished a manuscript already is a writer. Now, it's time to brush up on the business side of being an author. But that's for another post.

For more about Eloisa James and her work, visit her website,

Written by Brandy Dolce
"Ask Brandy" was originally published in The Asbury Park Press, Neptune, NJ.

No comments:

Post a Comment