Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tips from an Agent

Well, I’m about two thirds the way finished with my first book, so I decided to get some information on how to go about the publishing world.

There seems to be three ways:
-Self publishing (*shudder*)
-Contacting mid to low level pub houses on your own (and deal with the headache that comes with the industry)
-Get an agent

Now, the smartest thing to me would be to get an agent. For one thing, if an agent likes your work enough to take you on, you know you’re on the write – I mean, right – track. Plus they know what they’re doing a heck of a lot more than I do. The one bit of advice I’ve run across numerous times is avoid any agent who charges upfront fees. Sounds smart to me. As far as I can tell, agents make their money by selling books, not reading unpublished authors’ works.

So stumbling around the internet world, I found an agent’s blog that I found both entertaining and full of good information. ( Here are the big highlights I found in terms of advice to “newbies.”

-No info dump (first chapter, second, or otherwise)
-No repetitious recaps (character relaying to other characters what just happened)
-Don’t be dialogue heavy. Balance your dialogue and action
-Show don’t tell (yeah we’ve heard that a million times, but she specifies to be careful to not overload with dialogue about offstage action)
-No pointless dialogue
-No summarizing what the reader should have gotten out of a scene or conversation

So sure, that’s a lot of “no”s and “don’t”s, but I think it’s sound advice. Those are sometimes hard pitfalls to avoid as a writer, but as a reader, I recognize that I don’t want to read that kind of gunk.

Looking over my own work, I’ve found myself guilty of several of those crimes. Some things to work out during the editing process, for sure.


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