Sunday, January 6, 2019

A Week in Writing #228

Writing is a business, even though sometimes it feels like a non-profit. Nearly everyone who sits down at a computer to write poetry, screenplays, novels or whatever wants to do it for a living. I'm no different than anyone else when it comes to that. For many, like myself, the first step is to find an agent and that's what I'm in the process of doing for Broken People.

Of course, the first step is to finish the novel, which I've done. For fiction, I cannot emphasize enough how important that is. I have a friend who writes mostly non-fiction, who shared with me his desire to write a fiction novel. He talked about knowing some agents and thought he could write a few chapters and see if they would represent him. I tried to tell him then, and I'm saying it here again, that you need to complete the work first and not only complete it but rewrite/edit/tighten, etc., before he submits it. It may seem like an arduous undertaking, but it's something you have to do to be taken seriously.

I know there are other steps like writing a good query letter and a synopsis but I wanted to put together the agent list, which I felt would be a time-consuming activity. If you decide to go this route, I would suggest a spreadsheet to track your submissions. I've done this in the past, so I was already planning on doing one this time as well. An advantage I found was that I could use the VLookUp function in Excel to see if I had already queried a particular agent or agency about Killer Blog, which you may remember is another version of the story.

I started with a list off of Query Tracker, which I've used in the past. I remember scrapping the data to have been easier in the past, and it might be easier if I was a paid or premium member of the site. So, I began by filtering on agents that handle the mystery genre, copying and pasting what I could from that list into Excel and going from there. Something that I couldn't stop from copying, which I decided to keep, was the country of the agent, which is represented by a flag. While I don't have anything against Canada or the UK, I imagine agencies in those countries are more interested in helping writers from those countries, so I didn't delete them but put them into a different ranking.

So my list started with 327 agents. I'm in the process of ranking them from 1 to 6. Since there may be more than one agent at an agency, I figured I might have 1 through 3 that I might consider querying. I'm thinking in the case of an agent who is also the head of the agency I might consider querying another agent there. This sorting is still in progress. For the those who might be a good fit but are in other countries, I'd rank 4. Now there are 17 who are either in the UK or Canada.

If I've previously queried an agent I ranked them as 5. I'm thinking of also including those who only accept mailed queries. These would be second-tiered as they are sort of behind the times.

Those ranked 6 would be those who are not currently open to queries or who don't list mysteries in their online bios or in the genres that the agent/agency accepts. For 6, there are 175 agents so you can see the original list is quickly decreasing. I did add in one agent from the Writer's Digest Novel Writing Conference who wasn't in the Query Tracker's list but handles Mysteries, so that's one going the other way.

I'll continue with this list and update you as I do but I think I'm going to have a final starting list of between 80 and 90 agents/agencies. Then there'll be the harder work of coming up with a good query letter and a good synopsis. I'm thinking some of that can be used from the Killer Blog querying.

As far as actual writing, I did some more work on revising The Runaway. I'm up to page 100 and about 17,459 words. A little less than a 1000 words a day, but not too bad really.

This week in Powers Squared, there was more progress on Issues #9 and 10. Our artist sent us some more character sketches as well as thumbnails for pages 1-8. Rachel had some good ideas that we hadn't thought about. That's one thing that I enjoy about the collaboration is the sharing of ideas from both her and Nina. The goal is to make the comic book better so we're open to any ideas.

Nina sent us pages 13-16 from Issue #9 and Trevor sent us some updates for Issue #8, though I think we might not be done. Again we're all going back and forth to make sure we're happy with the end result.

Paul and I did our weekly vlog on our now rechristened YouTube page, Powers Squared Comic. This week, we talked about all the above as well as the origins of villains Dr. Horatio Atlas and Instructor Agnes Miller, who were first introduced in the first two issues. You can watch our latest post here. While you're there, please feel free to subscribe and ring the bell; your support is always appreciated.

This past week's poll on Powers Squared received its most votes, four. That might not seem like much but it is a huge improvement over 0 and 1 which have been more of the norm. This week's question, "Who would you rather be friends with Kirby, Steve or Don?" has received three votes, but the week is still early. You can vote, too, on the website.

All of the other things I wrote last week that I wanted to work on didn't happen so that's what goals are for.

With the end of the Christmas season, I went through all the social media platforms and updated the avatars and homepage images that had once been adorned with Marty and Eli in Santa Hats back to just Marty and Eli. For some reason, I had issues with changing Tumblr and went around and around trying to update the image. I followed all the steps but when I hit Save, the image would revert back to Santa Hats. I even wrote to Tumblr help to find out what I was doing wrong. After that, I asked Paul if he would let me show him what I was doing. Same steps but this time the image updated, so in case Tumblr is seeing this, I no longer need your help, but thanks.

Last, but not forgotten, completed and posted a review for Way Out West for Trophy Unlocked. We watched this film a week ago in prep for watching Stan & Ollie, which came out late last year. We saw the film just this morning so there will most likely be a review next week.

So plenty to work on in the week of writing ahead. See you next week.

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