Sunday, October 30, 2016

My Journey to a Book Contract - Part 9 Preparing for Editors and Agents

by Elva Cobb Martin  @ElvaCobbMartin

You can master all kinds of writing craft but if you don't learn how to submit to editors and agents, you might never get that dreamed of open door to a book contract and great adventure.

Recently I learned about some excellent editing programs that can help you polish a manuscript before submitting to an editor or agent. Google these editing program names: Autocrit, Hemingway, Grammarly to see what might work for you.

Once you have your ms in what you think is your best form, you should read publishers or agents submission guidelines carefully and do exactly what they say to submit. It's amazing how many don't think they need to follow submission guidelines. You can google any publisher, editor or agent's name and go to the link for Submission Guidelines. All this study is vital before submitting.

Attend writers' conferences! At writers' conferences, the editors and agents will write in their class sections in the syllabus what type manuscripts they are currently interested in. See where yours would fit and make an appointment with that editor or agent, and sit at their table. In this picture I am at a dinner seating with MacGregor Literary Agent Erin Buterbaugh at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference at Ridgecrest, NC.

For editors and agents you need to learn what One Sheets are, query letters, book proposals, pitches/loglines, tags. You can google these terms and find a lot of information. Appointments at conferences are only 15 minutes so you have to have your pitch ready to go and hopefully, a One Sheet. Don't know what a One Sheet is or like to see a sample? Leave a comment and ask for a sample to be sent to your email address as an attachment. Don't forget your email address! An appointment with a Prism Book Group editor at the 2015 conference I attended at Blue Ridge, and my carefully crafted pitch and One Sheet, led to my first book contract --for Summer of Deception  released in March 2017.

Pitch or Logline
This a one or two sentence nutshell that explains what your story is about and HOOKS the reader or editor.

Sample 1: Jacob Marshall must avenge his father's honor by implicating Serena Jones' Father only to realize revenge often hurts the innocent.

Here's a simple work template to write your pitch:

(Your protagonist) ______________MUST________________ (critical plot goal BY_______________ (action or conflict with the Antagonist) ONLY TO REALIZE ________________ (what the character learns about life that helps him change his goal during the journey of book or come to a satisfactory ending.)

Here's my pitch I wrote for Summer of Deception using this template, and I pitched this book to Prism Book Group:

Rachel York tries to unearth the truth about her brother's reported death by taking a position at a Carolina tea plantation, only to realize the truth may destroy her new found love and could even cost her life.

A tag is a much briefer hook, like back cover copy's first line or two in large print, or movie bylines.

To boldly go where no man has gone. (Star Wars)
Don't go in the water. (Jaws)
Seth Kincaid remembers almost everything . . . except getting married. (novel tag)
Power comes with a price (The List by Robert Whitlow)

My tag for Summer of Deception:
A wounded warrior . . . a woman searching for truth.

Rejections happen to all! Never forget this. Summer of Deception was rejected 26 times over several years, but I kept honing my craft, rewriting and submitting. Here are some comments I received with rejections:

Too much telling. (White Rose Publishing)
Too wordy - too much description (Agent sue Seymour)
Too long for publisher's guidelines (Editor Yvonne Lehman)
Not a fit for us. (Harlequin Love Inspired)

Make up your mind. YOU will not give up! Track your submissions by date, person submitted to and their response. Keep a Writing Log Notebook as you progress with your writing daily or weekly.

So glad you stopped by today! Did any of this help you? Do leave a comment and share on your social media if helpful.

Here's my scripture prayer for you and all Christian writers:
Make our words "like a gushing stream, (sparkling, fresh, pure and life-giving.)" Prov. 18:4b Amplified Bible

This is the last part of this series on my "Journey to a Book Contract." Now, as Randy Ingermanson would say: "Go write a heartbreaking work of staggering genius."

Onward in His Steps,
Elva Cobb Martin