I spent somewhere around 18 months in the query trenches, and during that time I had plenty to keep me busy: researching agents to query, entering contests, making connections with new CPs, polishing and improving my query/pitch, and so on.
The end goal was always in my mind: find an agent. There are so many inspiring stories about writers finding their agents, and I devoured these when I was in the trenches, hoping I'd get to make my own announcement in the not-too-distant-future. My friend Dee Romito has put together a list of inspiring 'how I found my agent' stories here if you'd like to take a look.
Signing with an agent was a good goal, and when I finally got the call from my amazing agent, Molly, I can honestly say it was one of the best moments of my life. Even in the weeks after that, I didn't really re-evaluate my goal, because I was busy working with Molly on final polishing for my manuscript before it went out on submission.
It was only when my manuscript had been given its last going-over that it struck me:
Of course, I have been working on my current WIP on-and-off for a few months (I'm a slow drafter, especially if I have to go back-and-forth with another manuscript). The fact that I'll always have something that I could be doing, writing-wise, is kind of a given. But what is an agented author meant to do, apart from that, to try to improve their chances of making writing their career?
This is what I came up with...
Rachel Horwitz wrote a great guest post about why authors should blog, and I absolutely agree with her. It helps you practise your craft, and gets people interested in you and your work.
Get involved in agent contests
Then I got together with Summer Heacock and Dee Romito to set up our own contest - Hook, Line and Sinker. It opens to submissions on 13th October, and you can read the rules here.
I also ran a mini pitch workshop over 4 days to give folks a chance to polish up their 60-word pitches before the contest, and that, too, has been loads of fun, and really exciting to see the kind of entries we're hopefully going to get!
Research, research, research
This is going to sound really, really dumb (because it is), but I never really looked into different publishing houses before I got my agent. I was vaguely aware of which were the biggest, but I had no idea about the different imprints, and no clue whatsoever which editors specialised in my genre. This kind of thing is really useful to know, and I'm in research-mode right now.
Be a good CP again
I took a reading hiatus of about a month, which included my CPs' manuscripts, because I'd hit a brick wall with my writing. After all the excitement of MS revisions, signing with Molly, further polishing, and all the other stuff I was doing, my WIP had come to a standstill. And it wasn't that I simply had little time to write (which is generally true), I was just having a case of Brain Overload.
I needed a break from anything which would distract from my WIP, so I took myself out of my CP reading pool for a few weeks, then booked a week off the day job to WRITE. And it worked. I wrote around 27k in a week, and felt like I could breathe again. So I'm back to reading and critiquing for my CPs, as well as doing the contest pitch critiques, and I feel like I'm on my way back to being a good CP again.
I'm not quite there yet with this one, and I think I'll save it for if/when I get a publishing contract. The idea of vlogging makes sense - I watch other writers' vlogs, and I love the idea that your favourite authors become real people and seem more accessible because you can watch them talk about the things they love. But being in front of the camera isn't something I'm used to, and I'll have to work up to it. **I reserve the right to pike out of this, purely because I'm chicken.
Megan Whitmer and Suzanne Gale are 2 of my favourite vlogger pals - go and check them out and see how it's done.
I'm sure I've missed some pretty key things an author should be doing after signing with an agent - I'd love to hear your suggestions and comments!
Kat out x