Marly Rusoff: Deal or No Deal?
One of the most interesting anecdotes Marly told during her master class was that her father was a bookbinder. This helped her develop a "deep reverence for the notion of what a book could be." Not only did he rebind books, but he also went to courthouses to bind the documents and records there.
So naturally, she became very concerned as a child when she heard her father talking about "microfiche", and lay awake at night worrying about it. ;)
She owned her own bookstore before she became a literary agent, so she has a great empathy for authors and aspiring authors. There is some good news about the bad market right now, she says: It will pass.
Now is the time to hone your craft, to spend time polishing. It's the time to find value in the writing process, to learn to love the journey, all very practical advice.
If you're bothered about the future of reading in this country, get involved! With your local library, or small book store, or with future readers.
As for writing query letters, she wants to receive letters that surprise and excite her. If you've done your job as a query writer, you've shown her what market this book fits into, as well.
What should you as a writer look for in a literary agent? Someone with business sense, experience, whether in editing or marketing--having connections helps. Most important is that they feel comfortable talking about money and negotiating for you. They need to be willing to fight for you.
Once you have that agent and that book deal, you will probably need to take charge of your own publicity. This is the time for branding, and even "gimmicks"--temporary tattoos, bumper stickers, recipe cards--related to your new book. Look into book groups, speaking engagements at colleges where you may be provided with an honorarium, and book signings. All of these things might be easier/less expensive if you are part of a group of authors, or if you tour with another author whose book somehow relates to yours.
Of course, don't forget, blogging, social networking, sending out review copies, and creating book trailers.
Marly Rusoff accepts queries for literary fiction.
Oh, and don't forget today's Beta Club!