Whether you are an aspiring writer or an accomplished author, there is so much to be aware of in this industry. You should take classes to keep your skills honed (like the ones offered here by the fabulous Children's Book Academy), read newsletters and blogs to find out what's going on, review award- winning books to see what's HOT, not to mention just keeping up with your own social media by tweeting, making facebook comments, etc. Whew! That's A LOT of stuff!
The one question that many aspiring writers have, is "how do I get an agent?" Until now, I couldn't really answer that question. Like many of you, I sent a bazillion queries to agents for many different projects. All were rejected. Oh, I got close with a few. Instead of the form rejection, I had graduated to the "It's fun, I like it, blah, blah... BUT It's just not for me" or "I just didn't connect with it." It was soo frustrating.
Then I found a place where agents tell you what they want. I mean they put it right out there -- in 150 characters or less-- what they are looking for. Suddenly, this whole process got a LOT easier.
What am I talking about? It's called the Manuscript Wish List on Twitter or #MSWL for short. You can access it by searching Twitter with the #MSWL hashtag or they have it on a handy dandy website now:
What is it? A list of manuscripts that agents and editors would like to see. How cool is that?
How do you use it?
1) It's searchable. If you go to the website, on the left side of the page you can search by agent, editor, genre, or age range.
2) You scroll down to see what everyone has there
3) The idea is NOT to use this to write specifically what they are asking for, although if you are searching for ideas that would be marketable, this is the place to go.
4) Use this to find the agent that is looking for the manuscript or proposal that you have ready.
5) When you find an agent, be sure to go to their agency website to check out their submission guidelines.
A few things to remember:
When you submit, follow the agency guidelines exactly. In doing so, you have shown the agent that you know how to follow directions.
But also put the #MSWL hashtag in the subject line. Some agents have set it up so that these queries get reviewed faster than the rest in the query slush pile.
Why? Because you took the time to give them what they wanted. This is a HUGE plus!!
I have been watching the #MSWL ever since it came out and I've seen alot of agent success stories through this. I'm proud to say that I am now one of them!!
I used #MSWL to get my agent Clelia Gore, with Martin Literary Management. It happened so fast, too. I sent my #MSWL query and in less than an hour she had responded saying she'd like to talk to me about my manuscript. Was it "the talk?" It turned out to be so.
The funny thing was I sent emails to two other agents through #MSWL and both were interested, one offered and the other one might have but she got back to me too late.
Will this happen all the time? Unfortunately, No. But using #MSWL is like having a crystal ball to peek into the minds of the agents to see what they want. It's a whole lot easier than just closing your eyes and throwing a dart and hoping you hit a moving bullseye (which is what querying felt like before.).
Good luck to everyone querying. And remember-- Do you #MSWL? You should!
A self-professed science geek, Jennifer is the author of over twenty nonfiction and fiction books. She has 3 books coming out with National Geographic Kids (2015 & 2016) and one with Charlesbridge (2016). She is now proudly represented by agent Clelia Gore of Martin Literary Management .
You can find Jennifer at www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com
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