Author: Jean Hall

12 Questions – Are You Ready for an Agent?

This information is for writers of fiction seeking an agent.

If you hope to have your book published by a traditional publishing house (Christian or general market) you will very possibly need an agent. Have you been thinking about searching for one? The task is daunting. Before you begin you need to figure out whether or not you are ready for an agent. That ultimately means knowing if your manuscript(s) is ready.

Here are 12 questions to ask yourself to decide when you are ready.

Picture book writers check out Carol Baldwin’s post 6 Tips for PB Writers Getting an Agent.

If you plan to self-publish your work of fiction you won’t need an agent. But answering these questions will help you to make your book the best it can be.

1. Is your manuscript finished?

Do not query an agent unless your book is finished.
Also, if you write for young children (below Middle Grade) do you have several finished manuscripts? Agents want to represent you and all of your work, not just one story. Do not send several manuscripts. Query only one. However, if the agent like your manuscript they may ask for more.

2. Is your manuscript perfect?

Is it perfect according to industry standards, not yours? Has it been through your critique group several times? Have you incorporated the changes you think work? Has it been edited for spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc.? Can you pay a professional editor to go through it?

3. Have other people read your manuscript?

If your story is for young children (picture book, board book, early chapter book, easy reader) have several people who have never seen it before read it aloud to you? Your ear will pick up problem areas. Listen and take notes.

If the story is a MG or YA have several beta readers read it and given you their comments? A beta reader is someone who isn’t necessarily a writer but likes books in the genre of your book and is willing to read it and note questions and problems.

4. Have you written a query letter?

Have you written a query letter for this book? Has that been critiqued by your critique partners? This is what you send to the agent. Follow the individual agency’s submission guidelines exactly. If they use a specific form for submissions, fill it in with the information in your query letter. If the agency uses a submission website like Submittable, use it.

Check out these websites for help with writing a one-page, three-paragraph query letter.
Agent Query: How to Write a Query Letter
Jane Friedman Query Letters
Reedsyblog Query Letters

Those who plan to self-publish will find this step a big help in making sure your theme, character arc and plot are strong.

5. Have you written a synopsis?

If your book is for middle grade students or young adults have you written a synopsis, and has it been critiqued by your critique partners? A synopsis is basically a 4 to 10 page detailed plot summary of your novel. Even if you plan to self-publish writing a synopsis is critical to making sure your plot is seamless. Check these websites for help.
Jane Friedman Novel Synopsis
Writer’s Digest Write a Synopsis
Jerry Jenkins Synopsis

6. Have you written a pitch?

Have you written a pitch of 50 words or less for your story, and has it been critiqued? A pitch should include the main character, the problem or decision they face, and the change the character passed through—that is, the theme.

Jericho Writers Elevator Pitch

BookBub Elevator Pitch

7. Do you know your book’s intended audience?

Do you know who is your audience is? Is it written for boys or girls? What is your target age group? Does your vocabulary and reading level match that age group? Does the subject matter fit that age group? Does the content?

8. Does the word count fit industry standards for your target audience?

Each age group and each genre of children’s books have specific ranges for the number of pages editors will accept. Do not expect them to make exceptions for your book. Word counts equal numbers of pages. Each page costs money to print.

9. Have you researched the agent?

Do you know what types of manuscripts they are looking for? Do you know their submission guidelines and procedures?

10. Have you read many books in your genre?

Have you read current books—published in the last 5 years—in your age group and genre? For young children have you read and studied 100 picture books, board books, easy readers, or early chapter books? Have you read at least a dozen recently published MGs or YAs in your genre?

11. Have you put the manuscript(s) away and not read it for 3 to 6 months before you query the agent?

12. Do you have a professional website and a regular presence on social media?

This may not be important to you and me, but it IS important to editors and agents.

WELCOME OUR NEW DIRECTOR

The Write2Ignite Team is thrilled to welcome Jean Matthew Hall back to the Team as the Write2Ignite Director.

Jean was one of the original founders of Write2Ignite back in 2008. We thank the Lord that she is able to rejoin us.

Jean will spearhead our next big event in September 2020. YA-HOOO!

We asked her a few questions to give you the 4-1-1 on her. Keep reading!

What was the impetus for beginning W2I? What was your vision and work in those beginning years? How did you see it unfold?

In 2007 several of us got together for lunch at an SCBWI Conference in Charlotte, NC. We each expressed how we would love to have a similar gathering focused on our Christian faith and worldview. That conversation led to a brainstorming and prayer meeting. Thus, Write2Ignite was born.

Why did you step away from the leadership?

I led the Write2Ignite Conferences until 2014. At that time my personal life became very complicated. My husband was critically ill, my mother with dementia lived with us, and my daughter needed a full-time caregiver for her four children while she worked. The Lord told me it was time to step down from Write2Ignite and minister to my family.

What is bringing you back now? Please share your new vision for W2I and how the Lord led you to this new vision.

In 2016 my husband passed away. In 2017 my mother did, too. God told me it was time to relocate and give my daughter and her children some space. So, I relocated to Louisville, KY, to be near my son and his family. A few months ago, the Write2Ignite Team contacted me about returning to “duty!” After prayer and consideration, I agreed. And I’m glad I did. It’s great to be working with my old writing and conference buddies again.

I can hardly wait to show all of you what’s coming for Write2Ignite in September 2020.

We’re planning a BIG announcement on Friday, March 13. Be sure to check in with our website. You are going to LOVE it, I know.

Thanks, everyone, for making me feel right at home at Write2Ignite.

Please leave me a little message in the comments. I’d love to say “Hi” to you individually.

Jean is the author of the picture book Bountiful Blessings series published by Little Lamb Books. The first book, God’s Blessings of Fall, debuted in September 2019.

Learn more about Jean on her website , on FB at Jean Matthew Hall Author, and at  SCBWI .

 

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén