Of all the parts of this journey, I suspect this part to be the most boring. I’ll get that out of the way so that anyone just writing for fun and games need not read it. However, those of you wanting to get serious about this concept needs to sit up and listen. Without this information, you will waste an inordinate amount of time and effort wondering why the heck those stupid, uneducated agents aren’t taking your work serious.
I’ve read just about every “How to get published” “How to get an agent” “How to pick your nose” book available. (I put that last one in to see if you were paying attention) They all say the same thing, yet they all tell you nothing that will actually get you published or contracted by an agent. What I’m doing here, I hope, is to share real life issues that take you past the fluff and get to the meat of the matter.
The first item on the agenda is taking a reality check.
You could be holding in your hands the next “War and Peace” and never be able to get it published because of one factor; the reality that you are not in control. With the development of e-books, etc., it is now possible for you to get the book published on your own. It’s also possible that in doing so, you could make the millionaire sales club all by yourself by doing just that. I’ve seen the results and they do happen. But lets get real, there just aren’t that many with the capabilities of writing at that level. Most of us (including myself) write commercial fiction that we hope will do well.
Agents are in control. That’s the down and dirty of it. At least until that first big published novel gets out there, agents run the show. It’s agents that decide if your work is worthy of extra effort or something to do when they have spare time.
I’ve talked to many agents and there is an underlying theme with them. They want the work perfect before they get it. They each have their own idea what that means and it’s up to us to see to it that their expectations are met. Otherwise, and this is very important, they won’t BOTHER to read your work. At best they will sit it on the side table while the dust settles. More likely, your get a pre-written form message (not letter) saying how your work of art just isn’t for them at this time. (Or some variation of said)
So how are we supposed to know what they want? Easy, they will tell you. Their expectations are not cookie cutter to another agent. They want something special to them. Double space? Indentations? Justifications? All of that needs to be understood as to how the agent wants it sent. Some things are similar regarding to the manuscript, but make sure you know the agent before you submit.
Now back to the writing.
I bring all of this up now because I’ve discovered that it’s easier to do the job right than to do it over. Most manuscripts are to be double-spaced. Each paragraph is to be indented 1/2 inch. The left margin is to be justified where the right margin is not. Do not extra space between paragraphs, unless there is a completely change of scene that you are jumping to.
If you start off this way you will be on the right track and at the very least will not have to re-do this much of the work when you are trying to get published.