Tuesday, August 16, 2005

BYPASSING THE SLUSH PILE

A REAL LIFE STORY.

SHAWN


An interesting thing happened to me while at RWA in Reno. I was made an
offer I couldn't refuse, and it's one that may impact favorably on many of
you.

A bit of back-story--I'm represented by Carolyn Grayson of the Ashley
Grayson Literary Agency. The agency is a member of AAR and is comprised of
4 agents and 1 intern. Each of the agents specializes in one or more genres
(romance, women's fiction/chick lit, mystery, children's lit, sci-fi, New
Age, non-fiction, etc.) The agency is well-respected within the AAR
community and is known for their negotiating and contract skills. They
receive over 125 queries/partials a week. They know they're rejecting
manuscripts they could sell if they had the time to work with the authors.
Trouble is, they don't have the time.

Several months ago the agency was involved in a project with several other
agents, editors, and one multi-published NYT author. I was asked to take
part in the project. Little did I know at the time, that I was being
tested. Apparently, I passed the test with flying colors, because I've been
invited to join the agency as an associate.

I will not be an agent, will not be pitching manuscripts to editors or
negotiating contracts. So I will not be in competition with any of the
authors I'll be working with. I don't want anyone to view this as a
conflict of interest. Carolyn Grayson will remain my agent. If you're
offered representation and decide to go with the agency, you will be working
directly with whichever agent handles your genre(s). My responsibilities
will be that of a talent scout/first reader/critiquer. I'll be sifting
through queries and reading partials. Like an agent, when I find a query
that shows promise, I'll request a partial. If the partial is wonderful,
I'll request a full. If the full is publishable, I'll pass it along with a
suggestion that the agency offer representation.

However, unlike an agent who often must reject if a manuscript isn't perfect
enough, when I see an author with promise, I'll be able to work with that
author to help her tweak the manuscript in the right direction. This is not
an editorial service. There is no charge. I won't be doing line editing,
but I will, when warranted, make suggestions and show examples of what needs
to be fixed and how to fix it. The author has the option of making the
revisions and resubmitting or not. If the revisions are made and the
manuscript is then publishable, I'll pass it along, again with the
suggestion that the agency offer representation.

Now, you may be asking why the opinion of someone who took 10 years to sell
a book should pull any weight. Well, it may have taken me 10 years to sell,
but as it turns out, I have an untapped talent for recognizing talent in
others and also helping people get sold. Over the past two years I've
tweaked several proposals for friends who went on to sell their work because
of the changes I suggested. That coupled with my participation in the
aforementioned project, leads the agency to believe that I would be an asset
to them.

We see this as a win/win situation. The agency won't be rejecting books
that show promise, and the authors won't be waiting forever, only to receive
a form rejection letter. If your book blows me away, you bypass the slush
pile and go straight to the agent's desk. If your manuscript shows the
potential for blowing me away after a bit of work, you'll have an advocate
who will help you polish it.

The agency will be sending me queries and partials they receive, but I've
also been given the go-ahead to have people submit to me directly. Please,
if you are interested in contacting me directly, remember that a rejection
is not necessarily a reflection of the quality of your work. The agency has
some specific thoughts as to the types of writing/books they believe they
have the best chance of selling. Yours, although well-written, may not fall
within those parameters. Both published authors and unpublished authors are
welcome to submit.

If you are interested in querying me directly, please do so off-loop at
winston72@verizon.net. The query should be in the body of the e-mail. No
attachments, please. If your book fits what the agency is looking for, I'll
let you know where to send your partial. I hope I'll have the pleasure of
helping many of you secure an agent and ultimately sell.
Lois

Lois Winston
www.loiswinston.com
*************************
RESURRECTING GERTIE, 1st runner-up American Title competition
coming from Dorchester Publishing, April '06

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