It's the moment you've all be waiting for! THE announcement you've been hankering for. Yep, today is the day we announce the first MAJOR contest from Novel Matters.
Audience with an Agent Contest 2009!
Let's all take a deep breath, and steady ourselves. It doesn't get more exciting than this!
You could win an Audience with an Agent!
Who can enter? Novelists in North America.
How does it work? We will post full contest rules in the "Promotions" section of the blog so you can refer back to them whenever you need to - or print them out.
Who is the agent? None other than the amazing uber agent: Wendy Lawton of Books & Such Literary Agency.
There are two stages to the Audience with an Agent Contest:
Stage one: Submit as an attachment a sample chapter of your completed novel along with a one page synopsis to us at firstname.lastname@example.org by July 31, 2009. (This means you will have until that time to finish your novel if it isn't yet complete, but it is important that your book be finished when you submit your chapter and synopsis. Details of what is expected in a sample chapter and synopsis is posted in the "Promotions" section of the blog).
Stage two: If your manuscript is chosen, it will land on the desk of Wendy Lawton in October, 2009. Wendy will read the sample chapter and synopsis. There will be a total of six manuscripts that will make it to this stage. At that point, it is possible that Wendy will contact one or more of six authors and ask to see a full manuscript. It is completely up to Wendy Lawton's discretion to seek out more information from a writer.
What? Only ONE Chapter?
Yes. Just one.
Latayne shared this story with us one evening: "Once I interviewed several prominent editors from Christian publishing houses for an article I was writing for Christian Retailing magazine, for an article entitled, "What Makes a Bestseller?" One very prominent editor told me of the importance of the first few lines of a manuscript. She said that if the writing didn't "grab" her on the first page -- or conversely, turned her off in those first few lines -- she didn't read further.
All the editors I talked to said that they read manuscripts, proposals, query letters etc. trying to find a reason to reject them. Now, they may not have said it so baldly, but that's what they meant. That's because everyone is inundated with writing. They simply don't have the time to keep reading through boring/illiterate/inappropriately-pitched materials to find something good later on.
When I conducted the interview with this editor, she told of hiring kids from her church youth group to come to her corporate office on Saturdays once a month. She would pay them and buy them pizza just to stuff manuscripts and proposals back into SASEs with form-letter rejection slips. She pictured mountains of materials that deserved a response -- but did not deserve to be published.
Now, that was a decade ago when major publishing houses were all still accepting manuscripts directly from authors; and in the early days of electronic submissions. But I would imagine the story is even more overt today: The ease of electronic submission has made it even easier for increasing numbers of people to send off their projects. Now, if a synopsis or first chapter doesn't compel an agent or editor to read further than the first computer monitor screenful, why would they?"
Some writers ask, "How can an agent or editor really know if they want my book based only on the first chapter and a synopsis?"
The answer is that while you probably won't be offered a contract from a first reading, there is more than enough information in the first chapter and synopsis to let an agent or editor know she wants more. It shows you've got the chops for writing. And it leads to the next step.
Get your submissions ready to send in. We look forward to hearing from you.