Sunday, November 27, 2011

How to Get an Agent

By Belise Butler

As I retired from my second career and entered a third, I also re-entered the field of writing. I had success in most things I pursued and had experienced life from many points of view; I assumed writing fiction would be a breeze. (Not)

I had written non-fiction manuals for law enforcement, taught classes on bullying in the workplace. A few years back I was voted one of the top speakers for my workshop entitled “Who do You Think You Are.”

I lived and taught in three countries. Surely I could write a novel. Yeah, RIGHT! What an eye-opener.

As a professional speaker I could ‘tell’ stories that would inspire so I started writing. I wrote short stories putting each one in a ‘maybe’ file. Then I threw them all out and wrote a 400-page novel. The novel sold.

However, I must confess my writing did not sell the MS. The content did. I hired a highly recommended editor who read my material and then charged me for an additional two days where she bruised my ego many times over, changed my focus and reduced my bank account greatly.

I want to share her words; maybe they will help someone else.
Most writers believe they have a story that only they can tell and the world will love it. It’s not true. It’s never true. Even an excellent story in the hands of an unprepared and/or unequipped writer will almost never be picked up by an agent; furthermore, few people can write and publish without the help of an excellent editor who KNOWS THE ROPES.

Learn the skill of showing not telling and remove this thought from your brain. ‘If I write it, agents will fight over it.’ Forget the ego, millions of people write, few sell their work. Learn the ABC’s of writing or your MS will never get you an agent.

A. Always understand that what you write about might not have an audience. You may like it …but no one else may. Family and friends won’t tell you the truth.
B. Before you write … learn HOW to write.
C. Cut the crap out and write the REAL story.

Accepting my check, she boldly said: “Your content is unusual and exciting. Your writing needs an overhaul.”

Now I realize that just because I could ‘say things’ which could change lives, I knew nothing about writing fiction. I also realize that a writer doesn’t ‘get an agent.’ New and exciting material that is well presented creates a reason for an ‘agent to get you.’

3 comments:

monjon said...

Yeah, I think I am finally convinced a professional editor is a necessity. Much like a dentist, we pay someone to hurt us.

Anonymous said...

This was really, really, really, good advice. Definitely will remember it.

poetry writing workshop said...

Yeah, I think I am finally convinced a professional editor is a necessity. Much like a dentist, we pay someone to hurt us.