Allen J Johnston

Author of The Divine Series

The official website of Allen J Johnston, the author of The Divine Series.

Find an Agent or Go It Alone

Okay, again, you are here looking to glean what knowledge you can to make that book a success.  Good.  I believe everyone has a chance at being published.  Not everyone is going to have that next best seller, but everyone can try.

Last I wrote, we were working on doing that submission to an agent.  Are you keeping track of who you want to submit to?  Stay organized.  So now you know you need a completely polished manuscript (or as perfect as possible) and you need a very creative query that is going to make the agent want to read more.  Is that all?  Nope.  You need a summery, also.  This is a tough one.  A summery is your entire book summarized into just a few pages.  This is where it can be frustrating.  Depending on the agent, the summery may need to be anywhere from one page to several pages.  Stick to the guidelines of how to format this.  Most agents are good with 1.5 line spacing with a font of 12 and Times Roman.

I have seen people reduce the font size and get rid of margins just so they can squeeze in more information on that one or two pages.  I know it is tough.  It really is.  You want to hit all those great scenes and give the agent more to draw them in.  You want them to really get the feel for your story.  As tough as it sounds, you can and will do it.  They want to see a clear plot.  If you can find a way to make the summery into a story that will elicit emotions, GREAT!  Don't keep anything back in hopes of making them curious.  Make sure to include the conclusion or how the conflict is resolved, if it is resolved.  Make sure there are no mistakes.  Go over it and go over it another ten times.  Have others read it and give their input.  Your query and summery must be as flawless as possible.  It sounds daunting but when you get started, your creative side will wake up and you will start to have something to work with.

Try not to repeat what you put in your query.  The query is a sales pitch while the summery is your book crammed into a few pages.  Once you have this done, you will really be ready.  But, take some time to get feedback from others.  I am going to ask one more time for you to put everything away for just a day or two before hitting that send button.  Your head will be spinning and this is when you can make a simple mistake.  We all get like this.  As we get ready to send off our carefully crafted query, our perfect summery and the first five pages of our manuscript, our adrenalin gets flowing.  Oh, I forgot to mention that you will need to send your first five pages of your manuscript.  The agent wants to get a feel for how your story flows.  They want to be enticed into reading more.  Make sure your story has a way of grabbing the reader quickly.  Okay, after one more time of carefully checking everything over, you are ready.  Send it off!!!!!  If your query and summery are well done, and you have a great manuscript, the agent will contact you and ask for more.  This is the start.  Even if they do not offer to represent you, it means you got their attention and you could not do that if your work was not up to par.  Keep at it.  You MUST contact me and let me know what happens.

Continuation of my saga:

So, I have sent off my ten queries with my carefully crafted summery.  I have worked it and worked it.  I get a few rejection letters in the first week.  They appear to be form rejections.  Not very impressive but I was warned that this is how it goes.  Every writer gets these.  Even writers that have published a slew of books successfully get these.  On my third query, the agent wants more.  My heart is pounding like mad.  An agent wants to see more of MY manuscript.  I can remember the day like it was yesterday.  I send off the first two chapters as requested.  I have my smart phone glued to my side in the event that the call comes in or an email is sent to me.  Every time my phone buzzes, I eagerly grab it, hoping beyond hope that it is THAT call.  I have to keep in mind that I have seven other queries out there begging for attention.  I get another agent respond asking for more.  This is GREAT news!!!  It tells me I am on track and doing something right.  I am grateful I was careful not to dash off with my first submission.  It is starting to pay off.

Typically, they will either not respond or they will send a very polite form letter.  If you get an agent that takes the time to respond with a personal email, you have done well.  Even if it is a rejection, a personal response means they took the time and you got their attention.  They may give you advice or they may just encourage you to keep trying.  If they tell you that you need to polish the manuscript, DO IT!  Do not send out anymore submissions.  You only have a finite number of agents and you do not want to use them up on something that has errors.

Okay, lucky for me, I don't have that problem.  Days are going by and I am still waiting.  Some agents will take up to four months to respond.  This is torturous.  Uggg.  But, it is part of the process.  After a month, I get an agent that asks for three chapters.  She says she is very interested and my head starts spinning with excitement.  I can tell this is the chance I was hoping for.  I send her the manuscript and wait...and wait...and wait.  Keep in mind that this is the forth submission so I am extremely pleased.  She writes back and sends me a very lengthy email detailing what she did with the manuscript.  She liked it so much that she took it to a board meeting to see if the firm wanted to take it on.  The agent liked it and wanted it.  Now she had to convince the firm.  The firm declined.  I know.  Darn.  But, not really.  I was elated.  "Why in the world are you excited about a rejection???" you ask.  Because now I know my work is good enough to get published.  It is my first favorite rejection I have ever gotten in my life.  I have a second and I will tell you about it in later posts.  Out of 2000 submissions she had gotten that month, she liked mine.  Even though her company decided not to pursue it, I got something incredible out of it.

Time to end this post.  Don't want to take you away from your writing for too long.  Check in next week where I focus more on my story so you can see what I did to make my books a success.

Allen J Johnston
The Divine Apprentice
The Divine Path
The Divine Unleashed
Next release: Oct 27,2014