1. Yotam
    Offline

    Yotam Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2011
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Petah Tikva, Israel

    Agents Unconventional ways to attract agents?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Yotam, Apr 8, 2013.

    For first time authors, what unconventional ways do you suggest will help attract agents attention?

    After a few rejections and even before, I always thought about what I could do to make it easy for me as an unknown writer. Some ideas were to enter amateur writers contests, others were to start a blog or even a specific site to the work I try to publish that include insight to characters and places like biographies, sketches and full drawings... That, at least, what came into my mind and still remain with a big Question Mark if it worth it and how can it affect for good and for bad.

    I'll be glad to hear from others who tried more than just sending queries to pitch their work, and wonder what you'll think about what I wrote.
     
  2. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    The way to attract an agent is to write something well that he thinks will sell. There's no trick. Just write the best story you can.

    Entering contests and having a blog are great ideas. They could help you attract some notice, and build a platform. You could mention them to an agent if you meet them in person or even in a query letter. But those things in and of themselves won't get an agent to sign you. They want a good story, written well, that will sell. Focus on that.
     
  3. Yotam
    Offline

    Yotam Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2011
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Petah Tikva, Israel
    Well... Considering that's what I believe I have now, it's good to hear.
     
  4. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Agents are all too familiar every stunt newbie writers can think of to grab attention. The only "trick" that will impress an agent is good writing.
     
  5. TWErvin2
    Offline

    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,528
    Likes Received:
    561
    Location:
    Ohio, USA
    This isn't new or out of the box, but if you have a completed, polished manuscript, you can attend a writers' conference in your area, or travel a bit. It depends on where you live, of course, but there are various ones around the USA.

    Sometimes they have known/reputable agents that offer pitch sessions, where you'll have 5 or so minutes to pitch your novel to the agent. Sometimes there's a fee, even beyond the cost to attend the conference. It does offer the opportunity to meet face to face, and the agents go there hoping to find someone, knowing the odds are against it (just like when they read the unsolicited queries).

    Good luck in your search, Yotam.
     
  6. erebh
    Offline

    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,620
    Likes Received:
    467
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Looking for tricks or stunts to attract an agent? Depends what your book is about. If you are writing crime thriller maybe send him a bullet in the post - nah bad idea, don't do that. Maybe you are writing horror, try hiding in his wardrobe - nah scrub that too, maybe its a western - scalp one of his children, nah... I don't know... maybe just write something really good and send it to him....
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    The blog is a good idea, but if you have one, you'll need to invest time into it and fill it up with good content. Of course, everything you have on there would need to be impeccable - you don't want the off-chance that an agent might actually visit it and find a load of bad writing and grammar mistakes, for example. Writing competitions are also a good idea, but they would need to be very prestigious to be worth anything - amateurish competitions probably won't get you much notice, esp if the agent has never heard of the competition and therefore cannot know the quality of the judging process, the general quality of the work of those who win, who the judges are, and etc. On top of that, you'd need to have won a couple of these prestigious competitions - simply entering one won't do you any favours. It'd get a "Well, good for you" comment and then ignored.

    Try entering competitions - can't hurt to try. As for the blog - you really need to invest a lot of time into it and make it a regular routine, as regular as your own actual writing. Some online presence is better than nothing, I think, but then again if your online presence is so small that the agent can't take any advantage of it, it might be back to square one of "Well, good for you." :rolleyes:

    Have you received any feedback from any of your rejections at all? If not, then consider this - have you been querying the right agents? If yes, are these agents the ones who only want to see the queries, or was a synopsis or sample chapters part of the initial submission package? I ask this because now you know which piece of work to look at first - if you've sent sample chapters too and yet you're getting rejections, perhaps consider that you don't have a strong opening. If the agents have only seen the query, consider whether you've really got a hooking query.

    There isn't really any tricks involved. The Help had something like 60 rejections, if I remember correctly? It took her like 3 years to get it out (or was it 5? A long time, either way) And during this time, the author was constantly revising her manuscript too.

    If you're getting rejections even with samples, I'd start dissecting your actual novel and asking yourself, is it really a good story? Good writing isn't enough. Or if it's a good story, then is the writing good enough? It might also be worth sending your work in for an edit - a lot of editors give free sample edits. It'll only show you what's going on in the first 2-3 pages, but at least it might affirm some things or alert you to other things. Even from a free sample, if one of the first comments you get is "I wasn't sure what this meant" or "I don't get a sense of the character" or some such, you know you have a problem on your hands even if you choose not to go for the full edit. Either way, it'd give you some indication for how well it's working for free :D
     
  8. Yotam
    Offline

    Yotam Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2011
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Petah Tikva, Israel
    Thank you for the detailed comment, Mckk, and everyone else who shared an opinion.

    To your question, Mckk... I actually searched a lot for the right agents and most asked for a sample of the first chapter, more or less.
    I don't think the fault lies with my query, except being that of a debut writer it looks fine to me. If anything, it might be the sample, but how can I change it?
    my first chapter (the only chapter that...) written from the perspective of the main character, and by itself impossible to be enough in order the judge the entire manuscript.
    It took me three years to write and complete the manuscript in Hebrew and build a basis to the rest of the novel. When I finished I sent it to professional company for translation and editing that worked with me on the MS for about a year and done a wonderful job. In general most of the reviews I received (from friend, family and people who work here, Israel, in the field) were positive and those that weren't, I took to heart and worked on so I have great fate in my story.
     
  9. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Are there any writing conferences nearby that you could attend? I don't know how many there are in Israel. Is it feasible for you to travel to Europe or the U.S. to attend one? You can get some good one on one time and good feedback from agents at conferences, and it's a big plus if you can speak with an agent and talk to them about your story. I know it could be quite pricey, especially with the travel you'd need to do, but at the point you're at, it might be worth it.
     
  10. Yotam
    Offline

    Yotam Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2011
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Petah Tikva, Israel
    Europe is a possibility. I just need to do the research and find the right conferences (never been to one so I don't really know how it works).
    Money will always be the catch, I guess, but I can work it out.
     
  11. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    as i mentioned in my reply to your email, yotam, the query you've been sending out is so far from a standard query letter that it's no surprise you haven't gotten any positive response...

    in addition, the ms is way too long at 144+k for any agent or publisher to want to take on from a new and unknown writer... plus, the sample chapter is not formatted correctly, containing large font/bolded/poly-punctuated sound effects, and other departures from acceptable ms format...

    so, much work will still have to be done on both your query and your ms, if you want your book to have any chance of interesting agents and publishers... so, it would be a waste of money to pay for conference pitches, at this point, sorry to say...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  12. Yotam
    Offline

    Yotam Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2011
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Petah Tikva, Israel
    I actually didn't really understood completely your point about my query. I get that it don't start or have at all a formal appeal to the agent, but after I read your comment I changed it up a notch.

    There is nothing I can do about the length of the ms. All that I can hope for is when an agent will finally ask me for the full ms and read it, he will agree that it worth his time even from a debut writer. What do you mean "not formatted correctly"? I read what you wrote next but sill couldn't understand what to do in order to improve the ms.
     
  13. funkybassmannick
    Offline

    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Messages:
    836
    Likes Received:
    30
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    There is always something you can do. How many people have you had read it over? Has each scene been properly workshopped by an experienced writer?
     
  14. Yotam
    Offline

    Yotam Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2011
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Petah Tikva, Israel
    I'll have to say that not as many as I want.
    Writer by profession? Unfortunately, none. The company I mentioned don't hire writers but professional people who worked, work with writers and such.
    Israel is a every small country with even smaller writer's community, with close to none fantasy writers. That's why I unload everything I am not sure about in here.
     
  15. funkybassmannick
    Offline

    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Messages:
    836
    Likes Received:
    30
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    You can keep querying if you want, but what I really think you need is to get your writing seriously workshopped, by people willing to critique every page, every paragraph, every sentence, every word. It needs to be looked in detail by a lot of people.

    And even if Israel has a small writer's community, that can work well for you because there will be other writers desperately looking for you to critique their books. I recommend you go out and find them, and start a writing group. Use craiglist, meetup.com, even facebook - I found out on facebook that two of my high school friends had become writers since I last saw them, and we're now in a writing group. Post up fliers in your local library and coffeeshops. Get any writers you can, however experienced, and whatever genre.

    And writing conferences - there's got to be writing conferences in Israel, you just have to look hard enough. Just google "Israel Writing Conference," or even "Petah Tikva Writing Conference," and I'm sure something will come up. You might have missed some, but bookmark them and make sure to go next year. You'll meet tons of writers there, too.
     
  16. Yotam
    Offline

    Yotam Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2011
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Petah Tikva, Israel
    I really appreciate the vote of confidence! I'll follow your word for the mean time and hope for the best till the day I'll get an agent to sign me and beyond.
     
  17. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    yotam...
    i sent you info on how to properly format/arrange a query letter... did you study those attachments?... if so, didn't that help you to redo your query as a single-page business letter?

    as i also said, if you want me to show you how to do that, all you need do is send me your 'query' and other material as ms word document attachments... but you didn't respond to my email, so i had to assume you didn't want any help...

    my offer still stands, if you do...

    meanwhile, you should pare down the ms to no more than 110-120, which is longer than usually preferred for a first novel by an unknown writer, but may be excused, since it's a fantasy...
     
  18. Jhunter
    Offline

    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2011
    Messages:
    1,233
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    Southern California
    I have always wanted to put my book on an iPad, then hand it out to an agent I really want at a conference, then give him the stipulation of reading my book with it and getting back to me if he/she liked it--but to keep the iPad as a gift for taking the time.
     
  19. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I don't think this would work. I think the agent would feel awkward about it, and would remember you for the wrong reason. If your book isn't something he or she is really psyched about, or isn't quite right for him/her, it's not going to make much difference. Agents are looking for books they can sell. They need to love your story and really believe in it. Even if this worked and they took you on because of the iPad, they'd be taking you on for the wrong reason, and the relationship would be as it should -- you need an agent who is in love with your story.

    It would also be quite expensive.
     
  20. cazann34
    Offline

    cazann34 Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2012
    Messages:
    519
    Likes Received:
    41
    Location:
    Scotland, UK
    I read an article in 'Writing Magazine' May issue, which asks this very question to three agents and they all said they thought novelty submissions a real turn off. They also hated writers turning up at their offices, or submissions without containing actually submission (I chuckled at this one) or emails sent to them but also to a hundred of other agents (one cover letter fits all sort of thing)

    Apparently what they want are: stories connected to the past, new trends (zeitgeist) and anything exciting and intelligently written where the author has put time and effort into building a substantial and believable world, the more immersive the better.

    Paraphrased.
    Writing Magazine, May 2013 issue, Matt Shoard
     
  21. Jhunter
    Offline

    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2011
    Messages:
    1,233
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    Southern California
    I wouldn't just give it to any old agent. I would do my research first and make sure they are looking for something like my work, and moreover, it would have to be an agent that I want above all others--this would be be a one-time thing to try and get my dream agent. Also, no agent is going to take you on without believing in your work--iPad or no iPad.

    The iPad also wouldn't be handed over until they heard a pitch and liked it. If my dream agent doesn't like my pitch they are not getting the iPad--because there would be no point.

    I wouldn't just start handing out random iPad's to random agents.
     
  22. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Right -- they still have to believe in it. They want to believe in it. Nothing makes them happier than finding a m/s that they really like and think they can sell. The iPad would be superfluous. And it could lead to awkwardness.
     
  23. Jhunter
    Offline

    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2011
    Messages:
    1,233
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    Southern California
    Pretend you're an agent at a convention, meeting dozens--maybe hundreds of authors. You listen to all of their pitches, you even like about a dozen. So you tell them to email you their manuscript's.

    What do you do when you get back to your hotel room later that evening? Oh look, this one fellow gave you an iPad, so you start reading his book first. Not only because it's easier to read than on your laptop, but because he/she stood out in your day of meeting hundreds of people.

    Even if the agent believes in your book, whose to say how long it will take him or her to read your manuscript over the other twelve he or she asked for? It's all about that one little extra edge in my opinion. But as I said, this would be reserved for one person--whoever turns out to be my dream agent. If I decide to do this anyways, as of right now it's just a thought in the back of my head.
     
  24. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Allow me to pretend to be an agent for a post:

    I probably put the iPad away and open my laptop because I need to check in with work, etc. I have all my to-read queries, m/s, etc in one place. I know I need to get through that m/s that I got the other day that I requested, so I might read that. I asked you and 11 others to email me their m/s. Many have already done so, because they had their laptops, etc. with them at the conference. I might put them all in my to-read folder. Or I send them to my kindle, or I open them in Word and create a file, like maybe I do for each m/s I've actually requested. Maybe I like to read on paper, so I wait to have the whole thing printed out when I get back to the office (or email it to my assistant so he can do it for me and it's ready when I get back). Whatever my usual process is, that's what I do. (If I find it's easier to read a m/s on an iPad or kindle or some such device, I already have one. Remember, this is my job.

    I probably don't request as many as 12 manuscripts at a conference, so I imagine I'd be pretty pleased to have found that many that I think might work.

    Probably not all that long. Most agents get to be pretty fast readers. They might not even read the entire m/s if for some reason, they decide early on that it's just not working or that it's not for them, after all. It's not going to matter if you gave them an iPad. (Although they might feel badly.)

    If you really want to do this and think it will work, and will feel that if you don't do this, then you haven't done everything you can, go right ahead. I can't say it's completely impossible. Strange things happen. And plenty of things that I think won't happen, do in fact, occur. It's just that based on the discussions I've had and things I've read and heard from agents, it strikes me that this is not likely to succeed. If it works, it will because you wrote a great story. Not because you gave them an iPad.
     
  25. Jhunter
    Offline

    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2011
    Messages:
    1,233
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    Southern California
    It's not that I really want to do it. It's just a small thought buzzing around in the back of my head. I have a book to finish before I think about how I am going to pitch it.

    Also, I got the idea from Brandon Sanderson during one of his lectures. But he actually suggested having multiple people pay for the iPad and put their work on it, that way the cost is less.
     

Share This Page