There is an Internet initiative called the Boundless Living Challenge. The aim of the challenge is to take 45 days to change an aspect of your life. You blog on the BLC forum and get encouragement and support from the Internet community. Your goal can be as small or as large as you want, and the challenge is to help people make their life better within a support network of friends.
Very few things can be changed in 45 days, especially life long ingrained behaviours, but it is a long enough period of time to take those first steps towards making the difference.
I signed up for the first challenge, full of enthusiasm, but unfortunately when the start date came around I felt too over whelmed to take part. However, I did not forget about the idea and I started planning what I would do for my 45 day challenge. The fact that it would be writing related was foremost in my mind. The light bulb went on over my head without much thought.
'I know,' I said. 'I'll get a literary agent.'
My plan involved writing a new killer book and getting an agent to represent it within the 45 days. How could I manage to achieve this in 45 days when I haven't in the last two years, you may ask? Well, as I said I didn't put much thought into it and I thought if I was going to do the challenge I might as well aim big.
With my initial idea in hand, I went on line to do some research. Exactly HOW plausible was it to get representation in 45 days without a completed manuscript to hand?
'Wait, Inkpot,' I hear you say. 'I can tell you the answer to that already, there is no need to do endless searching.'
As you tried to tell me, the answer was not very likely at all. There was light at the end of my research tunnel, however. I came across this very friendly and informative post on Neil Gaiman's blog (one of my favourite writers). This in turn led me to the SFWA writer's beware blog, another invaluable resource, and from there to numerous other blogs and sites, the subject of which is for another post.
This long preamble leads to these rather brief set of rules (sort of) which I believe will lead me to be successful in my (not quite) 45 day challenge to get a literary agent : -
1. Forget about the agent, you aren’t going to get one without an offer of publication from a publishing house.
2. Before you write, do market research into publishers to find out who is publishing what.
3. Write a book that is GOOD, brings something original and new to the market and hasn’t been seen before (I know, common sense but easier said than done).
4. Get as many short stories published as possible in professional magazines. What do I mean by professional magazines? One that pays at least 5c per word, has a circulation of over 1000 readers and has been published consistently for at least a year. The SFWA gives a list of publications it considers professional on its website, which is great for genre writers.
5. Once you have completed points 1 - 4 it is time to look up the guidelines for publishers on the sfwa website of qualifying houses and submit your killer submission package to compatible publishers.
That is my current game plan. I must do some more research to see exactly how you get the literary agent after receiving an offer of publication, and whether they are really worth it.
What do you think? Have I missed out on any valuable points? Let me know!