Publishing… When to send out feelers?
If you’re like me a few other Dolls, you read anything and everything that pertains to helping with your craft. One of the tips we always see is make sure your MS is complete, edits and all.
When you send a query, pitch or synopsis you should/must have the best copy possible. For the most part I think this is the best option/rule. When I finished my MFA and turned in Legacy as my thesis, the story wasn’t what is could/should be. Granted I thought it was great. When I started sending out queries I received many dreaded rejection letters. While I learned a lot from most of my MFA classes as I’ve said, my advisor wasn’t much help and I think the story reflected that. My story started to change and take on the look and feel or direction it needed once I started taking workshops from Savvy Author. Which one of the Dolls introduced me too? Another valuable resource that I found were my first bête readers, which I’ve talked about, they have helped me create a better story as well. Why? Because they asked the hard questions and made me evaluate where the story needed to go, or start. My creative side also took control and said hey this kind of sucks. So I changed it, took some more workshops to work on other aspects of the submission process and now I’m excited about the novel all over again.
So where am I going with this little tail? When can/should you send out feelers? I think I can speak for one of the Dolls as well as myself when I say make sure you have a good part of your MS written, but start pitching. Pitching is a good way to see if anyone could be interested in your story. If you pitch make sure to tell the agent/editor that the MS isn’t finished, if you still need to finish it. Also just because you pitch to one doesn’t mean you can’t pitch to others. Pitch to everyone if you choose too, as long as they handle the genre you write in. Just remember pitching is different than sending out queries. To pitch you’re either at a conference or on a website like Savvy Author where they ask members for pitches, throughout the year. This is similar to going to the conference but instead of face to face you post a two to five line pitch to agents or editors to get their attention and interest in your MS.
I pitch on Savvy Author, since I don’t have to leave the comfort of my home. With Flyboy in and out so much it’s hard to go to some of the conferences. Plus as I’ve been finding out over the last few years the conferences have been scheduled at the worst possible times for me. But that’s my military life so I’ve had to change the way I pitch or should I say where, which is why I pitch on-line.
This has come in handy, not that I’ve gotten bites from the people I’ve pitched too. One reason for that is that I was pitching to the wrong people. So make sure you know which genre you fall into. While my MS can fall into a few different genres I had to figure out which ones were the best fit. I narrowed it down to two. I haven’t pitched my MS since before figuring out what genres I needed to use, so I hadn’t been pitching to the right people. Thankfully agents and editors read pitches that you pitch to other agencies, on-line, and if they like what they see you could get a working relationship with one of them. (This can also happen if you go to conferences as some of you know.) Just like anything else in the writing world there are no guaranties, but pitching is a great way to get noticed. So try your hand at pitching but make sure you have a pretty clean MS and an open mind.
Good Luck. Teresa