Daytona Strong shares her NCWA Renewal conference experience.
When it comes to writing a book, the actual process of writing is only part of the equation. At some point, the author must find a way to get published, and for many authors that involves finding an agent. At this year’s Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, writers had a change to learn how to wow an agent from an author’s view and from an agent’s view. I wrote about the takeaways from the session on the author’s view in a recent post (click here to view that post), and today I’ll share some of the highlights from the complementary session taught by agent Kimberly Shumate of Living Word Literary Agency.
When I think back to Shumate’s session, I’m reminded of the relational aspect of the writing craft. While there’s a very distinct and valid business side to writing and publishing, the relationships drive that. Shumate sat at the front of the classroom in casual but professional attire, with a relaxed posture and composure that felt as though she were meeting a (large) group of acquaintances for coffee. Amidst the pages of notes that she had prepared for the attendees, and the wealth of tips and recommendations, one piece of advice stood out: Be human, be yourself; there’s only one you, so make it come across and make it shine.
That said, Shumate emphasized the importance of being professional, courteous, using correct spelling and grammar, and following industry and agency guidelines for submission. Here are some more of Shumate’s tips:
When you’re preparing to send your material, research the agencies you’re targeting and make sure they represent your genre. Also follow their submission guidelines. Be courteous and professional in all aspects of your communication, from spelling the agent’s name correctly to addressing each query to a specific agent rather than cutting and pasting your synopsis into the email without beginning with courtesies. Be patient, and only send one follow-up email, giving it a month for an agent and three or more for an editor or publisher.
Make sure your submission is polished. Follow the rules of writing and make sure your work is well edited. Also, be sure that your writing is strong all the way through your manuscript; it’s common for the momentum to slow down in the final few dozen pages, as the author is feeling relieved that he or she is almost done.
Format your submission and structure your query letter, cover letter, and book proposal properly and according to industry standards.
For a detailed look at what Shumate covered in the session, from formatting and book proposal outlines to helpful tips and agent pet peeves, visit Living Word’s website at http://livingwordliterary.wordpress.com/. Scroll down past the bios to find the “Book Proposal Outline,” “Simple Rules to Remember,” and “How to WOW an Agent.”
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).