Monday, February 28, 2011

Perplexing Literary Agents

The quest for representation by a literary agent has been most perplexing I can assure you.  They request a query letter initially and most tend to judge whether they wish to represent you as a writer based on this writing sample...two pages maximum, that's it.  Granted, as a former teacher I could tell a lot about a student's style and writing abilities from a mere two pages, but I am not sure it is enough to evaluate a writer's potential.  There are quite a few agents who request sample chapters or the first ten to twenty-five pages of a manuscript.  I find that to be a more adequate sample of writing in which to judge the merits of a potential new author.  As a  writer you do have to generally send those sample pages in the body of the email and not as an attachment.  This proved tricky for me as I am more familiar with sending requested material via attachment.  Not to fear, my husband the tech wizard saved the day by showing me how to move portions of my manuscript and place it in the body of an email.  I could see how this would  prove frustrating to someone who wishes to write, but is not tech savy.

One of the most interesting facets I have come across in my querying attempts is the online submission form on websites for literary agencies.  I was confounded by the thought of having to condense my two page query letter into a mere 500 characters on an online form.  It took me a while to edit my query letter to meet this request, but it proved manageable.  What I find really interesting is that there are literary agencies and literary agents who have no website or do not accept email queries.  At the same time, most agents wish for writers to have a platform and a very real presence on the internet.  It goes back to the saying of "Do as I say, not as I do".  So if I cannot find an agency website or an agent refuses email queries, I automatically eliminate them as potential literary agents.  I have to find an agent that practices what he/she preaches.  

Additionally, I query three agents a week.  Initially, I was going to query five agents a week, but it's emotionally draining to have that many non-responses or rejections in a seven day period so I scaled the number back to three.  There are weeks when I just take a break from the whole endeavor so I can gain a fresh perspective or renew my enthusiasm for the literary world and replenish my confidence as a writer.  Some literary agents will get back to you regarding a query in five minutes and others request four to six weeks or more.  I keep a list of all the literary agents I query in a notebook along with the date I sent a cover letter or query to them.  I also keep a copy of their responses to my query so hopefully one day I can look back upon this trying and overwhelming period and have a great laugh while encouraging other newbie authors.  The quest continues.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Blogging Adventure Begins

This is my first effort to blog.  I am not a tech wizard and never claimed to be (that would be my husband) so it has been entertaining to create and design this blog entirely by myself.  I decided to begin blogging because I love the memoir genre and I am also in the midst of attempting to get a memoir of my own published.  Prepare to hear hysterical screaming should this fortunate event ever occur.  Keep Hope Alive has become my motto.   I am writing this blog under my intended pen name Grace Sutherlin.

Presently I am reading the memoir Her Last Death by Susanna Sonnenberg.  Additionally, I am currently studying literary agents and their respective book interests so I can determine which agent might potentially be a proper match for me as an author and my memoir.  When I am not reading and researching, I am working on polishing my memoir concerning a year of adversity and lessons chronicled between 2009 and 2010.  That was the year my life became insanely overwhelming as my dad's lymphoma returned, my mother finished radiation for breast cancer, my husband started his own consulting business, and my sibling went through innumerable challenges and changes.  I have my own personal health challenges consisting of Uveitic glaucoma, Meniere's disease, and an autoimmune disorder known as Cogan's Syndrome.  In my memoir I discuss daily living with each of these rare disorders.

Presently, I'm just thrilled to the dickens that I have finally, at long last, established this blog and may hopefully get it designed and established without suffering a major panic attack! A proud accomplishment when it comes to me and technology since I normally am technically challenged and suffer hissy fits when it comes to understanding design templates, software code, or why my computer crashes.  

In future posts I hope to reflect on the memoir I am currently reading, the art of writing, the quest to get published, how and why I journal, and whatever else intrigues me. I look forward to this experience and look forward to future postings.