Show, not Tell

There are 3 rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

Lesson 4

with 2 comments

I like lists and I have now decided that lesson four should be that getting published is no different than any other goal. Have a plan. Know what you need to do to get it accomplished. This is our list! Yes, things are in order (somewhat).

1. Idea!

2. Motivation… or your idea will remain an idea.

3. Make a synopsis or summary of how your idea will play out in a book… or you’re going to flounder around as you write without a direction.

4. Write.

5. Write some more.

6. Write even more.

7. Revise.

8. Revise some more.

9. Revise even more.

10. Revise like your life depends on it — because it does.

11. Find a critique partner. Revise some more.

12. Revise even more.

13. Revise like your unborn children’s life depends on it — because it does.

14. Search for at least 40 agents to send your query to. Rank them in amount of awesomeness… and how much you’d like them to represent you.

15. Write your query letter.

16. Rewrite your query letter.

17. Rewrite your query letter again.

18. Rewrite your query letter again, this time using Google-fu to immaculately conceive it.

19. Get someone to critique your query letter.

20. Revise your query letter.

21. Send out a batch of queries to 5-7 agents. Pick a few from each of your lists of varying degrees of awesome.

22. Wait.

23. Wait some more. (You could write another book right here. Start at #1!)

55. Wait more.

56. If you were offered one of the following things, go to #870: a partial request, a full request, representation. If not, move to the next step.

80. Revise your query letter. Try it from another angle. Repeat steps #15-56 until you succeed or proceed to the next step.

81. Forget you ever wrote the book. It was a good experience. If you’re too discouraged to try again, stop now and don’t quit your day job. If you’re not discouraged, proceed to the next step.

90. Repeat steps 1-80 until an agent asks for a partial manuscript, a full manuscript, or representation. Proceed to #870.

150. Give up. This obviously isn’t working for you.

300. Rekindle your desire to write. Repeat steps 1-80.

500. Read: agent blogs, publisher blogs, insider news, other books. Bestsellers, nosellers, self-published, Hyperion-published, classics, books in the genre you are most interested in, books in a genre you despise, books in a genre you think you could benefit from. Read and learn.

688. Critique other people’s work. That is all. Read and learn.

800. Repeat steps 1-80.

870. You are on the right track! If an agent asked for a partial, go to #890. If an agent asked for a full manuscript (wow, you must be really good), go to #900. If an agent asks to represent you without even reading your book then you don’t need this list. Go to step #1001.

890. Your query worked! You have baited the unbaitable! Get a celebratory drink and then sober up really fast. Wait a few days — maybe a week (you may not want to follow this advice) — to see if another agent asks. Send out what they want. What do they want? They want your query again (so they know who you are — you aren’t that special yet that they would remember who you are), they want part of your manuscript (this is what they asked for, after all… and you want to give them this), and they want your professionalism. They also want your soul, but they will not ask for this just yet. They may also request other things of you, like a synopsis. Give them what they want!!!! Even if they would like you to hand-deliver them a turkey sandwich made in Barcelona, do it. If you are not sure what they want, at least send them your original query and your partial and then ask if they would like anything else. Be nice. Be courteous. Make sure your manuscript is formatted correctly if they accept attachments! If they do not accept attachments do not even attach your e-heart to it. You must woo them without them realizing this is what you are doing. Go to #1000 if you are asked for representation. Go to #900 if they ask for a full manuscript. Go to #909 if they deny you with a form rejection. Go to #919 if deny you with a personalized critique.

900. You are so amazing. Except you have to do the same thing as those who were requested only a partial in #890. Do what what is outlined in #890 🙂 except send your full manuscript, of course… but you knew that! You were smart enough to get this far, after all!

909. I’m sorry. Life is hard. This happens to a lot of people so do not fear. You must’ve done something right along the way. Go back to step #15 or #21! I have faith in you!

919. I’m sorry. Life is hard. This happens to a lot of people so do not fear. You must’ve done something right along the way. If they suggest changes, make them and send it again. Agents know everything and you should learn from whatever sparkling advice, suggestions, or critique they give you. If they liked it enough to spend time doing this for you, then make the changes and send it out again to them. It could be the push they need to offer you representation! If they still say no, you probably are headed in the right direction for another agent to represent you. If after making changes the agent offers you representation, go to #1000. If they still reject you, go to #15 or #21 again!

1000. Congratulations, you have played the game of chance and you may have won! I can’t give you any more prophetic advice at this point but a few things: build a relationship with your agent because you will be stuck together for awhile, be patient because editors are just as busy as agents, and do not weep if things do not work out. Just start back at #15 or #21! Or even maybe #1!

1001. You are a published author and you should be giving me advice!!!!


Written by Jessica Lei

July 28, 2010 at 7:05 am

Posted in Humor, Lessons, Publishing

2 Responses

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  1. ROFLMAO!! I love this! You just made snort Diet Cherry 7-UP. Sorry, I wish I was at #1001 so I could give you advice.

    Suzan H.

    August 30, 2010 at 8:22 pm

  2. For the help please use


    September 10, 2010 at 12:37 am

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