10 November 2009

The Thrill of the Hunt

"There is a passion for hunting something deeply planted in the human breast."
~ Charles Dickens
(I apologize in for the lack of formatting. For some reason, my spaces between paragraphs did not come through.)
Odd for me to be posting here on a Tuesday, I know. But I wanted to share with you some very good information I have discovered in the past week. As most of you know, I'm in the "actively seeking agent" stage of my writing career. How long has it taken me to get here? Do you really want to know? Considering I started writing stories when I could simultaneously grasp pen and language, I'd say it's been a couple of decades. I've been writing seriously for fourteen years. I had one...two...three books under my belt by the age of twenty five. Trust me when I say they shall never see the light of day! I'm considering burying them in a personal time capsule only to be dug up upon the occasion of my death. About that time, I started toying with the idea of my current young adult fantasy series. I started, I stopped, I created worlds, I messed with character's lives! Then...then....then I found my story. On again, off again I worked on the beginning of a story that got more and more complicated as it progressed. There were weeks I didn't, couldn't write. There were days when the words flew off my fingers so fast I could barely keep up. Five years later, I have a completed trilogy, the first installment of a young adult fantasy adventure steeped heavily in ancient mythology.
That was the easy part. I finished editing back in July and for four months I've sat on it. Call it fear, loathing, extreme aggravation at a gaggle of characters who think they know their story better than I do. I, their creator! (um...right...) Inspiration was slow to come but it has finally won over fear, self doubt, threats issued by anonymous characters. The agent hunt is on, and boy oh boy is it a battle.
That being said, I have found two resources that are making my hunt easier than I could have hoped. If you are already aware of and utilizing their services, forgive my posting the obvious. You are free to roam the blogsphere at your leisure starting ... now! If you are, however, as I was, oblivious to the fact these two resources were out there, then read on pilgrim.
The blog Guide to Literary Agents has been on my blog roll for some time and I would casually glance at the articles, read up on ways to impress (or distress) a prospective agent, and ooh and ahh over the newly acquired author. What I didn't realize, until last Wednesday, was that they possess a data base chock full of agents, both new and seasoned! If you follow their blog, you'll see that once a week, they post a New Agent listing. It tells what they are seeking and how best to contact them. I went to the index on the right and scrolled down to the genre in which I right, clicked on it, and perused all the articles that talked about young adult agents. My list grew and grew until I had three pages (handwritten) of agents who I intend to further research online. Note: even though Guide to Literary Agents is current on their information, I would still go to the agent's website and get the pertinent information from there. When it comes to the future of your manuscript, it pays to do the extra leg work. Chuck Sambuchino has done a wonderful job of gathering as much information as an author can stand on the subjects of agents, query letters, and the dreaded synopsis. I highly recommend spending as much time as you need to gather the priceless information this site has.
My second ah-ha site has become Query Tracker. Their blog updates regularly and has great posts on the craft of writing, contests and a weekly Publishing Pulse which lists the recent goings on in the world o' publishing. Their website is the main site I want you to be aware of. Sign up (it's free!!!) and receive a monthly newsletter with info on the publishing world as well as agent listings. You can access their website without a free account. The site has a database which allows you to search for genre specific agents and agencies. I was able to ask it to search for "young adult" and "fantasy" and it brought up 65 listings. Granted, I will be looking them up online to check out their submission guidelines, etc. but this is a great first step to finding the agents that represent what you right.
I'm not posting this to hurry you. Hunting takes time, patience, resilience, and thick skin. It also requires that your manuscript be as ready as humanly possible. Once it's there, once you're absolutely (or at least 98% certain) it's as perfect as you can make it, take a breather. Go cycling, kayaking, spelunking. Then come back to it, give it one last read, take a deep breath and write that query. There's some excellent info on query writing on the Guide to Literary Agents blog. Some of the best advice I've received for this stage of the writing journey was from Karen at Following the Whispers: "Take the action; let go of the result". So hard, but so very necessary. I'll add this: "Do your best, then let 'er fly!"
Happy hunting!


Elspeth Antonelli said...

FIrst I will finish the manuscript. Then I will hunt. I will hunt long, I will hunt hard; but hunt I shall.


Karen Walker said...

Jen, I wish you all the best on your hunt. And thanks for the shout out about the advice. Glad it helped.

Blondie said...

This is great Jen! Thank you so much for the help. I wish you all the luck with your agent hunt girl. Have a great day! Kori xoxo

willow said...

Hey, thanks, I bookmarked these and joined Publishing Pulse!

FireLight said...

Stay with this!

spammer catcher word for this post:


Gwen Stewart said...

Best wishes for your hunt, Jen! It's nerve-wracking and exciting all at once. Please do keep us posted!

My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

You sound alot like me...Manuscripts in boxes under the bed...don't know where to turn's brutal out there..i have heard those stories too...feels so safe with my gate locked shut inside my little house... but you gave me dear...

i am going to be following along....

more later,

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Good luck with your hunt! can go out on your own. Don't pin it all on an agent. I had 2 books out before I found an agent--one small, one med/large publisher who didn't require an agent. Obtaining those contracts helped me find representation--and my agent, Ellen Pepus, did help me tremendously with my contract with Penguin (who won't work with unagented writers.)

You can even query agents and publishers at the same time. Just don't tell anyone I said so! :)

Mystery Writing is Murder

Tamika: said...

Jen, I pray all the success on your search. This is an exciting time in your journey! Thanks for clueing us in on helpful resources.

Keep us posted!

Terresa said...

Hurrah for all your hard work and research.

Informative post. Two of those sites were on my radar, one wasn't.

As a newbie-ish writer, I'm tentative and green (new) but still thrilled to hear when another writer has reached that "time to query agent" point. Someday, that will be me. Until then, I applaud those who do. Hurrah!

Jen Chandler said...

Good for you, Elspeth! We shall hunt together :)

Thank you, Karen.

Firelight: Love that spam catcher word. Funny when they are relevant :)

Gwen, I'm going to post as much as I can about the process. There are so many writers who do, and I enjoy reading everyone's experience. No two are the same and I always learn something different from each author's quest.

Kary: Thank you so much for your kind words and for following :)

Thank you, Elizabeth. I haven't ruled out querying publishers, just trying out the agent waters first. I figured if that doesn't happen, I'll start submitting to publishers who don't require an agent. Thanks for the tips (and don't worry, I won't tell a soul ;)

Helen Ginger said...

Thank you for such an informative post and the great links.I know of them, but haven't been visiting them in a long while. I will now.


Ratty said...

I hope you find the right agent. Your advice and links here will help many others in turn.