Getting Published or E-published/writing first novel

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Question
I am a non-fiction writer by trade, but have always had the passion to write fiction since I was a child. I am interested in writing a paranormal romance for the young adult audience. But I had a few questions.
1. Do you recommend sending my manuscript to an editor prior to sending it out to agents.
2. Are there any agents in the genre that pop-out in your mind as ones to put on my Tier 1 to approach?
3. Is there a "good" and a "bad" time to query agents?
4. Is it harder to break into this market than paranormal romance for adults?

Thanks for your gracious volunteering:)
-Lisa

Answer
Hi, Lisa!

Congrats on taking the plunge into fiction from the NF side. I did the same, so know that it's completely possible! :D As to your questions:

1. Do you recommend sending my manuscript to an editor prior to sending it out to agents?

No, I don't. Basically, the hard fact is that you'll need to have a good grasp of the mechanics of writing fiction, from the basic spelling, usage, grammar and composition, to plot flow, characterization and dialogue. Sending a manuscript to an editor will only delay that process. See, once you get the manuscript accepted for representation, you'll be thereafter expected to make edits to the book by yourself. You'll only be cheating yourself by hiring a person, only to have the later product not appear as competent. It'll delay, or possibly quash, a second deal if an editor believes you're not capable of producing the same quality later on.  That said, however, not everybody is surrounded by friends and family with the skill to make suggestions to improve the book once written. I have no problem with hiring someone (sometimes called either a "book doctor" or "style/structural editor") to give you a critique. A "critique" differs from an "edit" in what the person does---whether they suggest things for YOU to do, or actually make the changes. There are quite a few style editors out there that are former editors with major publishing houses and have taken to freelancing to the public. But the goal is to use someone ONCE to learn your blind spots. All of us have things we don't see about our writing, whether repetitive words that we "fall in love with" or logic gaps you could drive a truck through. We just can't see our own faults until they're pointed out. But there are plenty of on-line groups that can accomplish the same thing for free, so a book doctor would be my last resort. You might consider joining Romance Writers of America (http://www.rwanational.org) . There are tons of chapters for YA (young adult) and paranormal romance, such as the FF&P Chapter (Futuristic, Fantasy & Paranormal), of which I'm a member. Plenty of our members write YA, and many are bestsellers in that subgenre, so you'd be in good company. You can visit their home page to see if it might interest you. Naturally, to join any chapter, you have to belong to the national organization first.

http://www.romance-ffp.com/index.htm

2. Are there any agents in the genre that pop-out in your mind as ones to put on my Tier 1 to approach?

Yeah, a couple come to mind right off the top of my head, but it's certainly not ALL of them. Again, RWA would be a good source for this, because members have access to a list of selling romance agents and the subgenres (of which YA is one) they've recently sold. But, off the top of my head, try Luciene Diver of Spectrum Literary, Deidre Knight of The Knight Agency and my own agent, Merrilee Heifetz of Writers House (although I'm not certain she's accepting new queries right now.) But there are TONS of others, as I say. These are just a few that I KNOW have recently sold paranormal romance YA titles.

3. Is there a "good" and a "bad" time to query agents?

In reality, no. There are certainly good and bad times to send a query to expect back a quick response. As you can expect, the holidays (like now) won't get you a fast response. But most every agent I know holds submissions in order of postmark date, and responds to them in that order. So, whether you send a query in November or January, the November one will still get read first. The other slow time is during the late summer months. Those are conference months for agents, who go out and listen to pitches at writer conventions/conferences. So, they're out of the office for long stretches and don't often take along queries to read. But again, they'll look at them when they get back in order of postmark, so it really doesn't matter.

4.  Is it harder to break into this market than paranormal romance for adults?

Nah. They're about the same, or actually even better. Paranormal is still really hot, and YA is a growing reader demographic. More and more publishers are putting out YA lines now. But make sure you take the time to READ what's on the market currently. Read stuff that's been put out in the past year or so. That will tell you what sort of tone and characters are interesting editors. If you don't know, ask your local bookstore manager what paranormal YA (which might or might not be romances) are bestsellers right now. That will get you started.

Good luck, and feel free to ask any follow up questions you think of! :)

Cathy

Getting Published or E-published

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Cathy Clamp

Expertise

I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of getting published through commercial publishers, ebook publishers and self-publishing I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology, acronyms and manuscript formatting. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication.

Experience

I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011. I've also published short stories in multiple anthologies as well as regional and national magazines.

Organizations
Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Publications
Books/Anthologies: Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many more. Magazines: Rocky Mountain Game & Fish, Guns & Ammo, Fur-Fish-Game, many others.

Education/Credentials
My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, 2007, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, 2006, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

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