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Posts Tagged ‘rejection pile’

This afternoon, I returned from an educational weekend session with three literary agents. This event was sponsored by the Cape Cod Writers Center, and held at the Colonial House Inn in historic Falmouth, Massachusetts. This old sea captain’s house is one of several that claim ghosts in residence, but none of them visited me during the night!

The three agents guided the fourteen attendees through informative hour-long talks scheduled between the one-on-one sessions with each author. Katherine Sands from NYC spoke about “How to Discourage an Agent Even if You’re a Brilliant Writer”. Paul Fedorko from NYC shared his thoughts about “Finding the Right Agent for You”. And last, but certainly not least, Ann Collette from Boston provided her insight into “The Do’s and Don’ts for Mystery/Thriller Writers”.

My personal one-on-one session was scheduled with Ann Collette on Saturday afternoon. I found Ann to be a delightful woman with a quick wit and a sharp eye for quality. She’d already reviewed and made notations on my first 10 pages. Her suggestions were pointed and constructive, given always with a kind manner and an encouraging smile. As I left our session, my head was bursting with her ideas to improve my storytelling skills and notch up my chances for publication down the road.

Later on Saturday afternoon, we all gathered together to hear Ann and Katherine discuss “Writing the Query Letter”, which was a real eye opener. Concentrate on the unique facets of your story… setting-protagonist-problem. Or as Katherine says, place-person-pivot. Your carefully chosen words need to jump off the page and grab the agent’s attention.The goal is to make the agent want to read more.

Sunday morning provided a three-hour Q&A session with Ann and Katherine, who fielded questions from the attendees. They also shared surprising agent stories as they related to clients found and lost, or passed and regretted. It was an enlightening discussion, and gave us all insights into the inner workings of the agent’s job.

I’m sure I can speak for all the attendees when I say the weekend was well worth the time and cost to attend.

And, so, here I sit at home computer. I’ve pulled up my manuscript and have begun the revision process. As I work, Ann’s thoughts make sense to me, and I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing any of the words that are being deleted. These revisions are only making my story better… whew!

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One of the organizations I belong to… “Sisters in Crime”, is co-hostessing an event with “Mystery Writers of America” this coming Wednesday called “Author Idol”  The three agents on the panel will provide feedback on what makes them stop reading a manuscript submitted for consideration. Here’s how it’s going to work:

…each author who wants to participate will place the first three pages of their novel in a box

…a ‘reader’ will randomly select one of the stories, and begin reading

…when any of the three agents hears something that would make them put the manuscript aside, they will ring their bell. The reader continues the story.

…a bell ringing from a second agent halts the reading

…the agents will then share with the audience the why behind their decision to place the manuscript in the rejection pile.

This exercise is going to prove very useful to every author in the audience, whether they submitted three pages for the event or not. It should certainly help all of us hone those opening pages to hook an agent or publisher into reading further.

I’m really looking forward to attending!

 

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