I have been looking for an agent since I finished my first story in 2009. Back then I discovered my stories were well written, but not good enough to be published. There’s a difference, and I discovered I had a lot to learn.
I worked at my craft. When I retired in 2015, I was closer. A writer I admired thought a manuscript was close. It just needed a little more work so I revised and edited till I pushed it as far as I could. It was better, but not agent-ready.
I didn’t quit. I kept working on my stories, sending them out when I thought they were ready. I self-published two of them. This year I have a story that someone’s been interested in for a year, someone else for two years. Now I have the chance to audition for them. My assignment – to have four stories agent-ready by February.
How Do You Audition for an Agent?
If you were a musician, you would play or sing for them. If you were an actor on stage or on the silver screen, you would act out a scene for them. It might be from a movie, a play, or a TV show, depending on your skills, and the role you’re auditioning for.
You might do an interview, but not like either of these. You wouldn’t go in front of a microphone and camera. That’s a news interview, and you wouldn’t sit in front of someone at a desk. That’s a job interview.
In each of these auditions, you tryout, or interview with your work. I work in words, with stories. I don’t write them with pen and paper. I don’t even print them out any more. When I first started writing in 2007, I printed out those stories, and I mailed them in.
Now I write all of my stories on the computer, and I send them out that way too, over the internet using email.
I’ve already started getting ready for the February auditions. That means pushing each of the four manuscripts as far as I can, then sending them out for review.
The Next Step – My Three Critique Resources
One is like an old friend. I’ve used it since 2018. The second is an acquaintance I recognize, but I’ve only used it once or twice. The third is brand-new, and I’m ready to try it out!
The Writing Magic Membership Group is now my go-to group. It’s online, and I’ve been meeting here with Callie and company since 2018. They’re my writing community!
Callie puts out her call for manuscripts on Wednesday, and we meet the next day, on Thursday. In between we read each other’s work so we’re ready to discuss what’s working and what isn’t. We meet 2-3 times a month. It’s wonderful!
Rate Your Story is another writing group I belong to. I can send in 18 manuscripts a year to a group of published authors. They judge the stories they’re assigned. They send me a score and comments.
The score and the judge’s name aren’t important, but those comments are, especially if you want to get into traditional publishing, the path I’m on now.
I sent in one story. I got it back. My judge didn’t give me any line edits, the easy fixes. They gave me ideas to improve the story structure. (That’s in the next section.)
The Picture Book Mechanic is my new resource. Callie from Writing Magic recommended her when I asked about getting agent-ready. I emailed Lynne Marie, and I sent her my first manuscript. I should get something back in a week or two. The Picture Book Mechanic is busy!
Callie said to be ready for tough critiques. I like knowing what Lynne Marie likes, but it’s more important to know what I can fix. I believe in doing the hard work to make my manuscripts stronger.
Tomorrow – What’s next, when you get a critique back?
What Happens After You Get a Critique Back
1. Take time to think.
I got my duck manuscript back from Rate Your Story. I read over the critique. I transferred the comments into my manuscript. I didn’t dive into changes. I gave my brain time to think.
Reading/transferring helped me understand the suggestions. I couldn’t make those changes right away. I needed to wrap my head around them to see new possibilities.
There were two big things my judge wanted me to look at, the main character’s name and the three tries he made at his problem.
2. Work and make changes.
I researched names and duck behavior for a day or two. I put my notes at the end of the story.
Then I took a couple days to go in and out, making changes. I stopped and started. I moved ahead, and then went back to the beginning again.
I didn’t think I’d change the main character’s name, but I did. Somehow that small change made it easier to see new possibilities.
The duck manuscript’s revised . . .
3. Edit, edit, edit.
The duck story is ready for editing, but not from a paper. I’ll listen to it over and over again using the narrator on my computer. I can see and hear the words at the same time. Fixing errors is easy!
I also read my manuscript out loud. It’s another way to hear those errors. I’ll repeat the editing step over and over again until my story is as good as I can make it. Then . . .
Then I’ll start the process all over again. I’ll send that manuscript back to one of my critique resources. While I wait, I’ll work on another story or two.
Here’s to my latest adventure – getting four stories agent ready by February! May the force be with me!
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!