Daytona Strong shares her NCWA Renewal conference experience.
I’ve been attending writing conferences for about a decade, and each time I come away inspired and motivated to take my craft to the next level. I love the experience of sitting in on multiple classes and workshops, learning strategies, tricks of the trade, and techniques. When I signed up for this year’s Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, I committed to focusing not on the art of writing, but on the path to publishing. Today I’m sharing some of the takeaways from How to Wow an Agent (Author’s View), taught by authors Janalyn Voigt and Melissa K. Norris of TriLink Social Media.
Create a List of Prospective Agents
Seek out prospective agents by doing a study of your favorite authors in the genre and finding out who represents them. From there, the writer should get to know the agents’ personalities as well as whether they’re accepting new clients by visiting their websites, checking their listings at Query Tracker (http://querytracker.net), and looking for their blogs (or guest posts on other blogs if they don’t have their own). The latter is key, since an author will want to make sure they can have a good working relationship with their agent.
Write a Strong Query Letter
Armed with a list of prospective agents, it’s time for the writer to submit a query letter. Consisting of a brief introduction and overview of the book and the author’s bio, the query letter is a request for an invitation to send the book proposal. (Sign up to receive Voigt’s posts at http://livewritebreathe.com/ to receive her free query letter template).
Send the Book Proposal
Once the query letter has piqued an agent’s interest, it’s time to send the book proposal. Crafting the proposal is a subject worthy of its own series of workshops, but Voigt and Norris recommended the following resources for instruction:
– The 11 Secrets of Getting Published by Mary DeMuth (ebook) (link: http://www.amazon.com/the-secrets-getting-published-ebook/dp/b0052ensvc)
– Writing a Winning Book Proposal by Michael Hyatt (Fiction or Non-Fiction, ebooks) (link: http://michaelhyatt.com/writing-a-winning-book-proposal)
Build a Strong Online Platform
A solid online platform is important for writers. Start by building an author website that reflects your brand: who you are, what you do, what your readers expect from you. From there, grow an email list for a newsletter (whether you’re starting a newsletter now or think you might in the future), consider starting a blog, and get involved with whatever social media platforms you feel you have the time and bandwidth to commit to, including an author Facebook page, Twitter, Pinterest, Google +, and LinkedIn. Treat your author website as home base, and social media as embassies; go deep before you go wide, Voigt and Norris recommend, and don’t overwhelm yourself.
I’ll address the complementary session, “How to Wow an Agent (Agent’s View)”, in a future post, so be sure to follow this blog to get that side of the story.
Daytona Strong is a nationally-published freelance journalist, food writer, and recipe developer. Beginning her career as a television news writer and producer, Daytona eventually transitioned into a marketing and communications job for a Seattle nonprofit theatre. Today she writes about food, travel, and parenting for a variety of publications, and writes about her Scandinavian heritage through the lens of food at her blog Outside Oslo (www.outside-oslo.com).