Diary of a New Writer 7 – You got to move it, move it!

(Rather than ‘reinvent the wheel’ on the subject of publishing, I’ve included several helpful links.  Also here are parts one through six.)

Now that I had polished up my novel, proof read, made corrections and bribed my beta readers with wine and Wegman’s gift cards, it was time to put this thing out there!  Again, I was confronted with two choices:  try to find an agent and publish in the traditional way or self publish on Amazon and Smashwords.  (Smashwords will let you publish your e book on sites like iBooks, Kobo and Nook.)  Let’s be clear, neither one is right or wrong, better or worse for writers.  However, I bet if you took a poll of all the Indie Authors out there, 90% of them (I made that up) would have the same or similar experience as me.

Finding an agent to represent me sounded like a good idea.  It would take away the pressure of marketing the book.  Everything I read about self publishing told a similar story:  you need to work very hard, tirelessly, in fact to get your book noticed among the thousands of other works being published every day.  I just wanted to write.  By now, I knew I wanted to make Three Empty Frames the first in a series of novels.  Having an agent handle all the sales and marketing would free me up to do that.  I googled “finding a literary agent” which led me to Writer’s Digest  and querytracker.net.  I found the names of some agents, wrote a query letter and started sending them out.

How does one write a query letter, you ask?  Here, read this: How to write a query letter.  Also, make sure you are following the guidelines for submission to your agent.  Not everyone asks for the same things.  Some might want a whole chapter, some just the first 5 pages, etc.  Also, this should be obvious but, don’t waste time sending letters to agents who don’t represent writers in your genre.

Now for the bad news.  It may take 6 weeks to 3 months for an agent to even respond to your letter.  When and if they do, it may go something like this:  “Thanks so much for sharing your work with me.  I believe it shows great potential, however, it’s not quite the right fit for me.  Good luck in your endeavor!  Regards, Agent X.”  To be fair, these agents are being bombarded with manuscripts all day, every day.  Frankly, if you haven’t caught their attention in the first paragraph, you’re toast.  Perhaps this does not discourage you.  Plenty of famous authors got rejected over and over before they finally got recognized.  Here’s a list:  50 Iconic Writers Who Got Rejected.


I couldn’t take it.  I found myself nearly on the verge of tears every time I got one of those sweet little “thank you-but” notes.  (Ok, truth be told, I only sent out about 6 query letters.  That’s how fragile my ego is.)  Besides, this book was sitting there finished.  I wanted it out there already!  I am not a patient girl.  That’s why I finally went with option number 2:  self publishing.

Does that mean I can’t still query agents about my book?  Nope, I can still do that.  In fact, I should still do that!  There used to be a stigma attached to self published authors, but no more!  If you’ve managed to actually sell some of your books, you can include your sales figures in your query letter.  Assuming *cough* they are impressive enough to attract an agent!  Anyway, I’ll tell you all about my experience with Amazon and Smashwords next time!

59 thoughts on “Diary of a New Writer 7 – You got to move it, move it!

  1. Very interesting and the light-hearted manner you use in engaging us is what keeps me hooked to this interesting series 🙂

    Thanks Meg!

    Love and light<3

    Anand 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I only found it out the other day when sorting out a spare room i had not looked at it for at least three years. Thanks for that.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my god! A year? But on the other hand, congratulations on finding a publisher! I wish agents could send you a quick line, maybe even an auto reply that would tell you how backed up they are.


  2. A query letter that works:

    Dear (inset Agent name here), As a world famous (insert your famousness here) my name is a household word and I am recognized in all of the modern world. My last book sold (insert the number of millions of copies here) and I have penned another. My former agent has sadly passed on to the great publishing sales meeting in the sky so I thought you should have the honor of making your 15% for very little effort by doing all the mundane things to get this soon to be best seller on the market I am much too famous to do (I know it is a run on sentence, that’s what you pay those editor people for). My personal agent has a meeting with my attorney arranged for next Tuesday. Please be in attendance with your marketing plan.

    Don’t call me, I am much too busy to actually talk to you.

    World Famous (insert again)

    For the rest of us mere mortals I think being struck by a meteor (ite) is more of a possibility.

    So go for it!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, I don’t think any agent would argue that being famous helps sell a book and after all, they are in the business of SELLING. It is very frustrating for a new author to bust into a literary agent’s “list” that seems always to not be right for our work. I get it. But with the success of self published authors and those of us that have signed with a publisher without the help of an agent, perhaps agents will reconsider their business model. I don’t believe a good book will be a bad investment for an agent who is willing to work for their 15%.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Really fascinating insight into what’s involved in publishing a book! Right now, I can’t even imagine being at the point of having something to send out to reviewers, let alone think about getting published, but it’s really interesting to think about those next steps. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! Blogging is a great practice for a writing career. You’re building o good foundation. Write short stories, follow other writers, try writing prompts and challenges. And read! You’ll get there! Best of luck!


  4. Thanks to you and to this series, I have started writing my first ever novel. Now I have not reached the stage where I need to think about publishing, so when I get there, I guess I will mull it over self-publish or get heart broken by agents?? I have a feeling I am going to go with self publishing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Do try both! My friend Kevin, who I mentioned last time, said his publishing house found Indie authors on Amazon all the time. I even heard of someone being signed from writing fan fiction on Wattpad: a free platform.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I have no interest or patience for querying agents. Besides, publishers these days expect authors to show up with an intact platform and a built-in fan base, so might as well go the SP route anyway! Some of my friends do not agree with me and will nag me now and then to query, but nah. I like my life as an indie.


    1. Yes, the decision for nonfiction writers and fiction writers might be different. Also the genre you write in. I write in a really crowded field so self publishing seemed to be the most efficient way to get my work out there! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s my pleasure. Amazon will be the best option. Also, you can commercialize it with Google absence. Pay per click policy. On that point there is a famous quote in the business “If there is no risk there will be no gain”

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Howdy Philly suburbs neighbor! I am heading to BC later today for my grandsons football game. Rain, rain go away.
    I think the absolute best way to get an agent is to meet them at a conference and completely wow them with you, in person pitch.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I was failing at first, less than 3000 words in 4 days. Then I dropped everything else today and churned out more words than the other days put together. I reckon it’s going to be hit and miss like that!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Nice post Meg. We have discussed the self publishing vs traditional channels before, so I won’t go into that.. That whole querying process is fruistrating to say the least. IF you received occasional feedback, it wouldn’t be so bad.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Covers are so important. Oh, by no means am I judging or dismissing the self publishing route. I am not ready for it yet. I want to write. Not ready to devote the time I would need to marketing. I have plans for 2016, more conferences and courses given by literary agents. Face to face may be the best way to go. I will let you know

        Liked by 1 person

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