Monday, August 17, 2009

Thoughts on obtaining an agent

After following the advice and directions of many authors and want to be authors I have gained a lot of insights, with some of it excellent and some of it bad. However, I thought it would make a good blog to highlight a few of the good points I have picked up along the way.

I have learned that agents do want books to sell and do want new authors. This is how they make their money. Most agents do their best to put forth their best foot around writers. They know they are talked about as the gatekeepers, etc. They are looking for writers that stand out from the crowd. They are looking for something unique and writing about something they have an interest in. And, I have learned that in many respects they are people just like anyone else. Sometimes they get tired of talking about only writing and would love to talk about other interest they have. This is especially true when you catch them away from their office or convention floor, like in the bar.

Many agents are bombarded with queries and proposals. I think many times it is not near as many as they would love for you to think. Remember, they have a reputation they have to promote as well. They want others, especially editors to think they are in full demand and receiving all of the top proposals in the market. The one reason they will not accept many of the clients that contact them is because they feel they have to submit work that will not be good for their own reputation.

I remember one conference where a panel of agents looked a query letters. The first item they really wanted to know is if the author had published before. Next question, how did they do? Third question, if not published, are they famous? What are they looking for? They are looking for the ability to sell books strictly on their name.

If a writer is none of the above, the agent then looks for something different to set them apart from the crowd. It could be a fantastic writing skill, superior knowledge of a certain field, a unique voice, or something that clicks with that agent. If that does not happen, the query letter is dead.

So, what is a writer to do? Number one is to get known; to make a name for yourself. The route to doing this is varied and the more creative the author is the better. And we are not talking about slightly known, but highly known. For an example, if you want to become famous for your blogging you will not need a few hundred or a few thousands going to your blog a day but 5,000 to over 10,000 per day. We are talking about national exposure and not local. Yes, a lot of work without a platform to stand on. For some this is possible and for most it is almost impossible. I did say almost.

While you are building your name, it is also important to demonstrate you can write well. Learning to write is a never ending exercise. The author has to know the market and what is selling. You have to think of the market as your competition. You can not be as good as the bestselling authors, you have to be better. Why? Remember they are well known; you are not. You have to make your work stand out. How can you be unique and different if you do not know what is out there?

Your last shot is getting to an agent that has a unique interest; one that likes a certain style or type of book. This is a niche agent. Another trick I have learned is to start a query off locked on that special interest. Agents receive a lot of mail sent to them very formally and I hate to say it very dull. It has to be refreshing to receive a letter acknowledging they are a real person with wants and desires like everyone else. They also have egos and love to hear how they made a great sale they worked hard on. They like to know people read their articles they spend so much time on. They want to know that you spent the time to know them.

I think past that the agent wants to answer two main questions. Why is this the easiest book to sell now and why is this author the best to work with now. When it all comes down to it, the agent only has so much time and has to work what he or she thinks will make the most money for the time spent.

I think what I have been getting around to is a simple point. To obtain an agent you have to think like an agent and ask yourself what you would be looking for if you were in their place.

Johnny Ray

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Introduction to Mobipocket
Mobipocket was formed in March of 2000 and has quickly become the leader in the ebook industry. The ebooks can be downloaded to almost anything including a blackberry, Palm os, pocket pc, windows including visa and I understand will soon be available on iphone. Mobipocket has a free download of their software and it is extremely easy and fast. It is one of the three main ebook formats and based on the open ebook specifications.
They are not available on a kindle. But with the kindle not available for sell outside the United States, this is a great way for many people around the world to obtain ebooks written by Americans. Mobipocket is written in html form which makes it great to add links and other extras you will not normally find on books. It is extremely easy to read a book when it is on your phone or PDA. This is quickly becoming the preferred way for most of the world to read.
Their list of books available is growing fast and I expect to see them only make it better.
Amazon purchased Mobipocket in April of 2005. Mobipocket is located in Paris France.
Johnny Ray

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


I have had this on my mind all day and thought I would see what others think. I was criticized for using this word "OHMIGOD" several times lately and wondering if I am missing something here.

I entered a contest and looked back over the comments to help me polish the work when I noticed it the first time. The reviewer had circled the word every time I used it, which was three times in two chapters. On the last time she circled she wrote, "I don't know why you use this word, no one talks like that but lamb little teen aged girls. I now think I know why she did not give me a great score.

On the next time (different novel) I was criticized for using it the reviewer wrote, "I started to stop reading right there. You need to never use ohmigod in your writing, it is a big turn off to readers."

So, I have had this on my mind today and wondering what part of the world would think like this. I know a lot of professional people who use these words all of the time. To me it is very common place and is part of the way Americans talk and the way I know many people from around the world talk.
The question I have for everyone is. . . Am I wrong? If so, enlighten me.

Johnny Ray