Archive for August 14th, 2009

August 14, 2009

>Queries and Standards

>Surprisingly, for one like me who likes to do things “right”, I hadn’t actually taken the time to check how agents want the manuscript formatted. Sure, I knew all about the double-spaced thing. Everyone knows that, right?

There’s more. Even in these computer-centric days, it seems Courier is still the preferred font. It’s not pretty, it’s not even a proportional font, but I guess if that’s what you’re used to seeing then everything else will look alien, and it’s another example of giving what they want, not want you want.

So I’ve just spent the last hour reformatting the book to fit these guidelines. It might make no difference, but if it goes in front of an agent who has a simple filtering procedure – wrong font, discard – then at least it should pass that test.

And while we’re on the subject of making an impression, a quick word on the Query letter. Considering I’ve just written 600 plus pages of the book, you’d think putting together a single page summary would be pretty straight-forward. Far from it. Apart from the challenge of condensing 115,000 words into less than 1,000 it needs to be something that also passes the “first glance” test.

Until now, all the queries have been formal and polite, business-like. That method hasn’t been a complete failure, we have had some responses and are waiting to hear back from these people, but the more I look around, the more I realise that this is a case of having to make that first impression really stand out, and as we all know, you only have one chance to make a first impression.

So,with that in mind, the query letter had been completely rewritten. Of course, it still contains all the factual information (page count, etc.) but in a more “grab you by the scruff of your neck and demand attention” kind of way. At least, I hope that’s what it does.

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. I’ll be doing some more submissions this weekend, we’ll see what comes of them.

August 14, 2009


>Welcome to the Blog. I hope to describe all the effort that’s required to get a novel published once you’ve finished what you thought was the hardest part – namely writing the damn thing.

A little introduction. I’m a bit of a split personality – Marshall Buckley is two people, divided by 2,500 miles but united by one idea: to have a book published. I won’t go into the details of who we are, that’s largely irrelevant (and can be found elsewhere, if you’re that interested, it’s no secret).

In March 2009 the most basic idea was raised for the first novel – called The Long Second. After a surprisingly short amount of time – about 2 months – it was finished, apart from proof-reading, editting and polishing, of course. It runs to about 115,000 words and is a Sci-Fi novel with themes of Time-Travel but in the current world.

With the writing complete, the search for an agent or publisher began, and this is where it gets tough. You might, like me, have never really come across anybody who has written a book. Sure, you almost definitely know a whole host of people who plan to write one sometime, but most of those people will never actually get around to it. Actually, I thought I was going to be one of those people too, I’d certainly started a few but had trashed them when I realised how bad they were.

The Long Second isn’t like that. It’s good. Of course, I’m a little biased, but I’ve had enough people tell me that – people with no inherent need to be nice, people who could have pretended to have liked it but have actually really enthused about it and discussed their favourite parts – to actually believe it. Of course, these people have no relevance in the grand scheme of things, you don’t go to an agent and say “I’ve had 10 independent people tell me it’s good” – that would be too easy.

As I was saying, with no reference point, nobody who’d been there before, you really have to make it up as you go along (a bit like the writing part, I suppose). Sure, there’s plenty of research on the Internet, you can find agents and publishers, learn what makes a good query letter and synopsis, even get some replies from prospective agent, but if you think, for even a moment, that it’s a walk in the park, think again.

We were slightly lucky in having some contacts to get us started and mistakenly thought that would be all we needed. So far, that hasn’t been the case.

So, in this blog, from here on in, I’m going to update when anything happens – when I send queries, when I get replies or rejections, when I find interesting information (and where) and – hopefully – when I finally get an acceptance and an offer.

Hold on to your hats. It could well be a long, scary, bumpy ride.