Writing Books/Written Book


The main problem I have is even finding an agent.  Others in the publishing industry have read the book and have felt it worth proceeding. So my main problem is getting an agent.  Any suggestions?
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Hi - I also am one of the experts, but this time I have a question that I hope you can help me with.  I have written an historical fiction that both envelopes the Vietnam War era and my college days. It involves true experiences of government intervention in college antiwar factions.

In trying to find an agent to assist me with publishing this novel, I have experienced those who profess interest and yet are allegedly unable to help me.  What do I do and how best to address this situation.

Thank you in advance.
Itís hard to answer without knowing why the agents were unable to help. Is the book thoroughly and carefully edited and ready to go? Does it need more work? Did the agents submit it anywhere and get any feedback you could use? Did the agents not submit it anywhere? Did the agents charge you a fee? All the answers to these questions would require a different response from me, so without knowing why the agents could not help, I canít really solve the problem.

What I can do, though, is warn against paying a literary agent any sort of fee. They should get paid by the publisher, not by the writer. Legitimate agents take their commission out of the advance and royalties and send the rest to you. If you pay agents up front, they do not have to sell manuscripts to make money; they can make a living charging fees, so they never have to bother to submit your work anywhere. Itís scary, and itís a scam thatís going around, so writers beware!

Ah, I more clearly understand, now. I thought you had signed with agents who later said they could not help.

Finding an agent isn't easy, and the process and methods are too detailed for me to completely answer here, although Iíll give it a little stab.

First the book has to be better than 99% of all the other manuscripts written during the year. Only 1% of fiction manuscripts get accepted for publication. It's simply not easy to find an agent and sell a book. If it were easy, anyone could do it.

Entire books have been written on how to find an agent, but the best method is to get a referral from a client of an agent. That is, if you know someone who has a good agent, try to get that person to refer you to his or her agent.

Go to writers conferences where literary agents are scheduling evaluations with writers. Make an appointment and be sure to submit your best work. Sometimes those connections click and result in signing with an agent.

Last of all, search for agents who are taking on clients by using www.WritersMarket.com, and be sure to follow each agent's guidelines, for they all differ.

Never forget to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with any mailed submission, even if you donít want your manuscript back. Itís a common courtesy, and without it you may not hear anything back. Sometimes even a brief bit of feedback included in a rejection can make all the difference and help you revise the manuscript enough to appeal to the next agent.

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Bobbie Christmas


Book Doctor Bobbie Christmas owns Zebra Communications, a book-editing firm in metro Atlanta. She not only edits books, she also helps writers power up their prose to increase their chances of success. She is the author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), a creative-writing guide that won three awards.


Bobbie has spent more than 40 years in the publishing and communications industry and has run Zebra Communications, a book-editing company, since 1992. The editor of many publications and periodicals, she has worked with book publishers and trade magazine publishers as well as working in marketing communications and corporate communications.

Past president, Georgia Writers Association; past vice president, South Carolina Writers Workshop; charter/lifelong member, Florida Writers Association; Southeastern Writers Association; Atlanta Writers Club; Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature (SPELL); International Guild of Professional Consultants

Write in Style (Union Square Publishing), A Cup of Comfort (Adams Media Corporation), A Cup of Comfort for Friends (Adams Media), A Cup of Comfort for Mothers and Sons (Adams Media), Haunted Engounters (Atriad Press), Remembering Woolworth's (St. Martin's Press), First-Time Home Buyer magazine, HomeBusiness Journal, Apparel Industry Magazine, Edge Magazine, Atlanta Jewish Times, Time Travel Australia, American Writers Review, Points North, That's Entertainment, Atlanta Parent, Agnes Scott Alumnae Magazine, etc.

Journalism: University of South Carolina plus four decades of working in publishing, marketing, communications, advertising, newspaper and magazine production, book publishing, etc.

Awards and Honors
First Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers Annual Contest, 2005; First Place, education, Royal Palm Literary Award, 2004; Best in Division, Georgia Author of the Year Awards, 2005; Finalist, Best Books 2005, USA BookNews Third Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers, 1999; Nominated for Georgia Author of the Year, 1998; plus many other awards

Past/Present Clients
Capital Books, Sourcebooks, Olin Frederick, The Writer's Machine, Russell Dean & Company, Outskirts Press, and hundreds of writers.

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