Friday, September 3, 2010


As Nancy and I got close to the end of writing our new book, WE INTERRUPT THIS FUNERAL TO BRING YOU BACK, (a long, laborious job considering we had two husbands and ten kids between us to take care of!) we began to discuss how we could avoid the mistakes we made submitting PLEASE STAND BY -- YOUR MOTHER'S MISSING to publishing houses. Yes, the novel had been published, but we'd been forced not only to design a new cover for our "baby", but to do nearly 100% of the distribution on our own! This time around we hoped to find a publishing house that would put more money and enthusiasm into the project.

By now we had made a few writer friends, and we began to pick their brains for helpful hints on how to do this thing right. It soon became clear that the best way to get a book published was to do it through a literary agent. They had the advantage of getting our material into the hands of the right people, whereas we were shooting the pages off to names and addresses from a book, sealing our packages with little more than a hope and a prayer. Besides that, we learned that unsolicited manuscripts had a sad habit of ending up in a very high, seldom read "slush pile."

Unfortunately, we soon discovered that landing a good literary agent was just as hard, if not more so, than finding a publisher -- and of course, like everything else we attempted, we learned this lesson the hard way. Hanging out at our neighborhood library, we camped out in the reference section trying to keep one eye of our eyes on two extremely rambunctious little boys, while the other eye combed through tomes like THE WRITER'S MARKET, PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY, and other books that listed agents and described what they were looking for, along with how they wanted material to be submitted.

Generally speaking, most agents wanted a brief cover letter, along with the first one to three chapters of a book. Okay, we could do this. With great energy and a whole lot of naivete, we spent the next several months mailing out proposals to one literary agency after the other. With nary a bite. Then, glory hallelujah!, we heard back from three agents in as many days! Proving, of course, the old adage that it never rains but it pours. Now all we had to do was figure out which one we wanted to represent us. Which one of the three had the magic touch?

(Next: Nanc and I -- leaving on a jet plane for New York!)


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