Want to Get Published? Get an Agent? Here’s How.

Want to Get Published? Get an Agent? Here’s How.

Want to Get Published? Get an Agent? Here’s How.

Hey there writers and muse daters. I’m super excited to be here today with one of our members from the Writing Gym. You’ve seen her before and we’re really happy to welcome back Jeanne.

Recently, as a result of her hard work through the Writing Gym, Jeanne has received two full manuscript requests, from two of the top agencies including an undisclosed Hollywood opportunity. 

Today, I’ll be sharing some of Jeanne’s advice and her experience in the Writing Gym, and how the Writing Gym helped her (and could help you) achieve the author lifestyle. 

Jeanne told us the Writing Gym helped her in the following ways: 

1. Help that was tailored to Jeanne’s specific needs

Jeanne came in as a script writer, and her producer had challenged her to novelize one of her scripts. She said “script writing and prose writing are two very different things, with script being very visual.” 

Jeanne already had a script ready, but she had been struggling with editing that script. Despite going to many different editors to get help with her writing, no one really knew exactly how to help. Eventually, someone pointed her to me. 

“You were able to tell me how my thinking was in line with novel writing, and what I needed to do to change the way I looked at novel writing.” 

No matter where you are in the writing process, whether you have a work in progress, finished a manuscript, or want to begin a new work, the Writing Gym is here to help.

2. Revising to publishable 

After meeting with me, Jeanne entered the Writing Gym to polish her script. She entered the reading period, where I take your script and read it front to back. 

“You had read my script, dissected it, figured out what my strengths and weaknesses were, and then we started working one on one together. We did some overall work first, and then we started line by line, page by page, till we got to where the document should be.”

Through the Writing Gym, you can accelerate your progress, and get to the front of the line because your work has already gone through the editing process. 

Afterwards, Jeanne entered the Publishing Bootcamp in the Publishing Mastermind program, where I taught her skills on how to pitch her novel and how to write a bang-up query. She began getting responses. 

Here at Date with the Muse, we have programs for people at any stage of their journey to help them achieve the author lifestyle.

3. The Writing Gym community

Another thing Jeanne loves about the Writing Gym is the community we offer. 

Inevitably, writing comes with rejections. But here at the Writing Gym, we celebrate rejections together. Jeanne says that one of the nice things about dealing with the rejection in the Writing Gym is you’re not the only one who’s sending out queries, you’re not the only one who’s going through the process.

“Having a group of people to work with, sometimes feels like a competition. Like, ‘How many people got the most rejection letters today?’ We joke about these things and it helps to take the sting out of our own personal rejections.”

“Especially because you know your fellow Writing Gym members are so talented, so it really helps to know you’re going through the same things as other very good writers.”

Writing is seen as this solitary journey, but it doesn’t have to be. The Writing Gym offers the community to show that you’re not in this alone.

 Jeanne went from struggling with revising her work as a scriptwriter, to landing two major deals after she began working with the Writing Gym.

No matter where you are in your writing journey, the Writing Gym has different options to help you get to publication. 

 If anything here resonates with you, I’d be happy to chat with you. 

Until next time, happy writing.

Little Known Ways to Grab the Attention of a Literary Agent

Little Known Ways to Grab the Attention of a Literary Agent

Little Known Ways to Grab the Attention of a Literary Agent 

Many of you know that I spend a lot of time speaking with literary agents back in the day, before COVID. We used to have lunch or coffee. Nowadays, we do those virtually. 

One of the things that I can tell you across the board is: Yes, they still want an engaging story and yes, your piece still needs to have a marketability aspect. 

But what are agents acquiring these days? What kind of author really gets their attention? One of the things that they’re looking for when they are looking at the author is if they are part of the industry. 

What does that mean? 

Literary agents want to see if you are actively putting out your writing. Have you published recently? Have you been publishing poetry? Are you keeping a regular blog? 

They want to see if you are active in your writing life. 

Here’s a really big hint that you might not know: literary agents are taking a gamble on you when they take you on as a client. See, you’re not paying the literary agent. They’re earning money by what they negotiate with the publishing house on your behalf. 

So, they want a long-term relationship and not just a one-time client. They want to help you, as we do here in the Writing Gym, to create the author lifestyle and have a long-term career. 

Where do you start before querying? Or, if you’ve already started querying, have you already submitted short stories, poems, personal essays, and the like to smaller publications?

You need to be publishing and creating that nest for yourself that says you’re serious about writing and that you want to be a part of a writing community. 

What have I been doing to help authors’ visibility, to help them find literary agents that are interested in their writing? 

One of the things that I do is I send out weekly publishing opportunities. I found that these are hard to find. If you google “publishing opportunities” or something along those lines, you are likely to be directed to expired contests, contests in which you are not eligible for, contests that are in another country, and scams that are disguised as contests. 

All of these are just a whole bunch of nonsense. So, what we do over in the Writing Gym is we vet these publications so we know that they are legitimate. 

We send these newsletters out every week. If you are serious about publishing and creating that author lifestyle, I strongly suggest that you get on our list of vetted publishing opportunities. 

Drop your email in this form and we’ll send you the list right away. 

Keep up the good work and until next time. Happy writing.

How to Land your Ideal Literary Agent with Jeanne Covert

How to Land your Ideal Literary Agent with Jeanne Covert

How to Land your Ideal Literary Agent with Jeanne Covert

Today’s podcast episode features Jeanne Covert, a screenwriter and a member of the Writing Gym. Jeanne came to us with a finished novel–a script that she novelized–after hearing conflicting information from different editors. 

Jeanne Covert

“A lot of the information that they were giving me kind of conflicted with a lot of things that we do in film. And especially when it came to the suspense and the pace. I was used to a very, very fast pace.”     

I took a brief look at her manuscript and, in her words, I told her what exactly she was doing wrong and how to correct the situation. 

“And [coming to Annalisa] was the very best decision I’ve ever made. After working with [her], I saw what the editors were trying to tell me, but they didn’t know how to tell me because they didn’t understand screenwriting. But [Annalisa] did. It was eye opening the way she explained how elements in screenwriting translates over to the manuscript.” 

And [coming to Annalisa] was the very best decision I’ve ever made. 

Before the Writing Gym, Jeanne experienced a lot of frustration from the conflicting messages she’s received from different editors. But with the Writing Gym, she experiences a change. 

“Now I feel like I know what I’m doing. I feel like I understand the craft.” 

As a screenwriter, Jeanne worked more with the visuals. She enjoyed the pace, the action, and the internal development of her characters involved in films and writing for film. But at the Writing Gym, she also developed a love for writing novels. “Now, I’m beginning to grow in love with the words, not just the visuals.” 

She’s also noticed an improvement in her screenwriting and writing and marketing materials for a film. “No matter what kind of writing I’m doing, I can tell there’s been a huge increase in my skill.” 

As far as I can tell, this is a pretty good bang-for-your-back. She fell in love with writing and experienced a huge increase in skill and confidence. Besides these other accomplishments, we are celebrating two very exciting things for Jeanne. 

First, I just got off a meeting with her top-pick agent–who requested a script from her. 

“There was a manuscript request involved, which was extremely exciting to me because he is closed to queries at this point in time. So, even though he would be my top-pick agent, he’s not accepting unsolicited queries. It was off-limits until [Annalisa] was able to talk to him.”

Second, Jeanne received another manuscript request from a different agent–from a top agency, William Morris

“Because William Morris represents more media than just a novel writing,” Jeanne started, “I wanted them to represent me. I thought they would be a good fit for me. And it’s very exciting for me because you usually have to be recommended to that agency in order to get an agent to read your manuscript.” 

Well, then. How does it feel to get two manuscript requests from two top agencies? 

“It is absolutely very, very exciting because as a scriptwriter and as a reader for a producer, I read a lot of scripts. I know what it’s like to be inundated with submissions. It’s exciting for me to have the scripts requested because that means it’s not just in that pile that piles up on their digital desk. I’m very excited that at the same time it’s like, is this really happening?”

It is exciting, indeed, and such a huge accomplishment. We asked Jeanne if she had any word of advice for the people at our Facebook group, Write to Publish

“There’s so much I’ve learned. But one of the things that I really value that we do in the Writing Gym is how we work on our mindset. What many people may not know is that I have a dissociative identity disorder. And so one of the things that I have been working on for years is rewiring my brain. The way that the Writing Gym is conducted and the way that Annalisa works with us helps with that. We are constantly doing things to rewire our brains so that we’re more creative.” 

“I’ve been doing all of these things for years, so it’s not like they were new to me, but all of a sudden I’m doing this with a group of people and we’re kind of all in the same place and we’re all supporting each other and we’re all doing these things. I was shooting light years ahead on my mind work. And I just, I can’t express how wonderful that is. ”

It is so great to hear that Jeanne has found this kind of value in the work that we do at the Writing Gym. We asked her, then, what she would say to anyone thinking of joining our Writing Gym.

“I would say join,” she stated. “A lot of people don’t realize it takes a lot of work and effort to be at the professional level.” And she’s right. Even people who have master’s degrees are not at the level where they can be professionally published. “You don’t necessarily have to have a degree, but you have to have the knowledge. And this is one of the things I really discovered with the Writing Gym.” 

“If I was going to spend the money getting my MFA (Masters of Fine Arts) or spend the money on the Writing Gym, there is no question that I’d put that MFA money into the Writing Gym. The MFA may or may not get you where you want to be. But the Writing Gym, the work we do in the Writing Gym, gets us to where we want to be.” 

“I’ve had other writing coaches in screenwriting and whatever, but [Annalisa] bats for us harder, stronger, more than any other writing coach I have ever worked with.”

Thank you Jeanne for your kind words and for celebrating with us. 

Until next time, happy writing. 

The Behind the Scenes Scoop on How to Publish Traditionally

The Behind the Scenes Scoop on How to Publish Traditionally

The Behind the Scenes Scoop on How to Publish Traditionally

One of the questions that writers ask me a whole lot is: “What does it take to get published?” or “How do I do this thing called publishing?”

Some of you have heard about the work that we do over in the Writing Gym and the results that we are getting over there. Today, I’m really excited because I get to celebrate two of our amazing Writing Gym Rats–we call them that. It doesn’t sound very nice, but, you know, they’re Gym Rats. They’re working out. They’re working their writing toward publishing, and I’m super excited about this!

First, I want to tell you first about my work with Jim. Jim has been writing this great book. We finished working on it six–or maybe eight– months ago. He’s been working on putting together his package and querying, and we are in negotiations with an agent. I’m super excited!

We’ve gotten some great feedback from this agent, and we’ve gone back and forth a couple of times with revisions on that piece. You may not know this, but sometimes an agent will like a piece of work but will want some changes made. They might say, “I want to represent this, but I need to see a version where Chapter 3 happens before Chapter 1.” And so, in Jim’s case, he has moved some of his chapters around, moved some of his content, and now it’s back in the agent’s hands, which is super exciting! Congratulations, Jim!

While I’m at it, I also want to make a shout-out to Vivian. I’m super excited about this one. Vivian just had–I mean, I can’t even believe I get to announce this–but Vivian just had THREE requests for full manuscripts!

Many of you know that agents will typically ask for five pages, ten pages, fifty pages, a hundred pages. They’re putting their toes in the water, thinking, “Am I interested enough to read the whole thing? Because I don’t want to waste my time.” When you get asked for a full, it’s kind of like going from dating to being engaged. It’s a switch in the investment that the agent has on you. This is an agent saying, “This is interesting enough to me that I’d like to see the whole thing.” And to get THREE requests for a full manuscript within the course of a week or two is just amazing!

It means that Vivian is rocking her querying and her submissions. She and I worked really hard on those submission materials. So, I’m super excited for her.

Not only that, but yesterday, I was chatting with a publisher. As you know, I speak with publishing industry professionals every week, all week. I’m always chatting with someone about what’s going on in the publishing industry. She and I were having a chat about negotiating audiobook contracts: how audiobooks become part of the book deal that you get when you publish and how we can work toward getting better publishing contracts for the people who are in the Writing Gym–those Writing Gym Rats. And over the course of the conversation, she said, “I would love to see some pieces from your writers.”

This happens pretty frequently when I’m speaking with publishers and editors and agents because in the industry, I’m a known entity. People know that the writing that comes out of the Writing Gym is going to be high quality. It’s already going to be ready to go. That doesn’t mean, as we saw in Jim’s case, that they don’t have some changes that they want to make. But it’s going to be polished. It’s going to be ready. It’s not going to be something that someone typed up during NaNoWriMo and decided to send in. It’s going to be way beyond that. It’s going to be ready to be published.

So, anyway, as I was speaking to this woman, she said, “I’d love to see some of the writing that comes out of the Writing Gym,” and I asked her what kinds of pieces are really interesting to her these days. She said, “I’m really interested in environmental pieces these days.” And I said, “Well, I’ve got a story to tell you.”

I told her about the novel that Vivian has been working on and she said, “That sounds amazing! I absolutely love that concept.” I asked, “Can I send you a query and a synopsis?” And she said “I absolutely want to see that.”

So, that’s how things happen in the Writing Gym. It’s sort of like having a matchmaker to find you your mate. Having somebody to help pair you with the right person can be absolutely essential.

Now, look. You can do it on your own. You can go out and write your book and try to revise your book on your own and try to find an agent, but I spend some time trolling around in other people’s groups and listening to the kinds of things that writers are saying, and the things that I hear are: “Agents are jerks.” “Why is it so hard to publish?” “They keep rejecting me. What’s the deal?” “Why are they so snobby?”

I hear all kinds of things like that, and I understand the frustration of trying and trying without positive results. That can be really frustrating, and you might think that the people to whom you’re submitting time and time again are just jerks. You can try to do it on your own. Or you can stop running on that constant treadmill of frustration and find a solution that works.

I’m sure Jim and Vivian would tell you that it feels a whole lot better to alleviate the stress. That it felt a whole lot better to submit and manuscript that they knew was ready to go, with a query that was in tip-top shape, and a good, interesting synopsis. That all the pieces that they needed were in order, and that I could pick up the phone and call these people, that I could talk to them, that I could ask them: “You want to see this synopsis? Would you like to see that query? Are you interested in this book?”

That’s what happens for people who invest in themselves, and in their future.

I want to be really clear here: There are no guarantees. I do not have a magic wand where I can make the people in the publishing industry do what I want them to do. But I am part of the publishing industry, and that makes a huge difference.

Think about the people in your community, whether it’s the fellow parents who drop their kids off to school with you or maybe people your church or your temple or your Rotary Club. Those are the people you know. They are the folks you can call when you need something. They are your people. You want to work with someone who has people she can call.

Now, this isn’t for everyone. This isn’t a magic pill. I’m not going to give you some magic thing that’s going to get your novel to publishable. This is for people who are looking to become the kind of writer who can publish time and time again, who want that publishing career and are committed to doing the work and putting in the time, making the investment in themselves to make that happen.

If that sounds like you, I’d love to have a chat with you. Let’s talk about where you are, where you’d like to go, and how you can get there. Until next time, Happy Writing!

What are Literary Agents REALLY Looking for in a Manuscript?

What are Literary Agents REALLY Looking for in a Manuscript?

What are Literary Agents REALLY Looking for in a Manuscript?

Hey there, writers and muse daters! I’d like to talk to you today about what agents are looking for. One of the questions that I frequently get asked—whether it’s on Facebook or other social media or when I’m speaking at a conference—is “What are agents really looking for? What is it that they want? Why do I keep getting rejected?”

So, what are agents looking for?

If you’ve watched any of my videos in the Facebook group, you know I’m on the phone with agents every day, asking questions about the industry. Of course, I ask agents what they’re looking for, but another question I ask is, “What trends are you seeing in the marketplace?” Because like any marketplace, it’s volatile. Things change from day to day, right?

There was a book, “American Dirt,” that came out about a month ago that really influenced the publishing industry. The London Book Fair was cancelled because of this virus that we’re all dealing with. That impacts the industry.

So, things are always changing in the industry and knowing what the trends are, what’s impacting the industry, and what kind of books are getting published are important things to know.

I recently had a conversation with an agent friend, and one of the interesting things we talked about was a recent trend in the publishing industry. There is a change taking place, an evolution, from looking at the book as the product to looking at the author as the product.

So, what does that mean for you?

Well, it means that you better know how to create a product that is viable in the traditional publishing marketplace, and that’s exactly why we do things the way that we do them in the Writing Gym.

First and foremost: we get our information straight from the horse’s mouth.

I’m meeting with industry professionals every single week so I can bring that information to the writers in the Writing Gym to say: “Okay, here are the things that we want to target. How does your book fit into that?”

The second thing is that the Writing Gym is a comprehensive program. If you got an MFA (a Master’s in Fine Arts), you might learn how to write, which is pretty important.

But that’s about all you’d learn. In the Writing Gym VIP Program, we start by teaching you to write a quality draft that is movable quickly into revision for publication.

People who go from the VIP into the Publishing Mastermind—those who are accepted—are doing the market research, we’re talking about what agents are looking for, they’ve gone to presentations where I presented an agent to them and were asking questions in real time to a publicist from a publishing house and they’re able to ask their questions in real time and get them answered. They are gaining an understanding of the industry, which is very important.

During that time, I’m also reading their manuscript. Not once but twice, sometimes three times and I’m getting on the phone to agents and saying: “Hey, I’ve got this manuscript about, say, cows. What do you think?” And we’re having that conversation about that particular author. Now, frequently, that conversation leads to: “Hey, when it’s done I want to see it.” That doesn’t always happen, but it happens pretty frequently.

So we go from writing the novel in the VIP to the market research in the Publishing Mastermind. I’m creating the foundation for their platform. Then we move into the revision phase. This is really important, because they’re getting the right kind of feedback, learning who they are as writers, gaining confidence, and revising a novel to publishable. They moving on to the Publishing Bootcamp, where they’re submitting  their manuscripts and I’m making introductions to editors, publishers, and agents on their behalf.

Here’s the part that I really want to talk about today. There are two ending programs that happen after the book is finished: Paths to Pulitzer, where writers are improving their craft; and Novel Selling U, where they’re creating their author platform.

If the product isn’t just the book, if the product is the author, then it’s awfully darn important to know how to package yourself. I’m sorry to put it that way, but publishing is a business and if you don’t know how to address it as a business, if you’re thinking of your book as an art and you as an artist, then you’re missing out on what what can happen and the potential of what your book can become. Because this is what agents are looking for.

They may love your book and love your writing.

They may love your concept and they love your protagonist.

But if they don’t have a package that they can pitch as saleable to the Publishing House…you ain’t going nowhere. And that was the confirmation that I got this week in that conversation with my agent friend.

With the emergence of audiobooks and with Alexa devices and all of the changes that we see happening in the publishing industry, we’re at a turning point right now. So, if you don’t know how to market yourself, if you don’t know how to package yourself, you’re going to be lost. It’s no longer about writing just a good book; it’s also about knowing how to place yourself in the market.

If you’re ready for real results, I would love to chat with you.

But this isn’t for everybody. It’s just for people who are serious about having a publishing career.

You can probably understand as I talk about the scope of work that we do with authors.This isn’t something that happens in a week or a month or even sometimes six months.

This is a long-term process to build a career, because that’s what we’re doing over in the Writing Gym. If that sounds like something that you want, and you’re ready to stop spinning your wheels and to get real results, I’d love to talk with you about where you are, where you’d like to go, and how you can get there. You can put yourself right into my calendar and we can chat sometime in the next week or so.

Until next time, Happy Writing!

Want to Get Rid of the “Not for me, thanks” Type of Responses from Agents?

Want to Get Rid of the “Not for me, thanks” Type of Responses from Agents?

Want to Get Rid of the “Not for me, thanks” Type of Responses from Agents? 

Hey there, writers and muse daters! One of the most common problems that people come to me with at writers’ conferences and events is: “How do I find an agent? Why is finding an agent so hard? I’m getting a lot of rejection, I’m not sure why. Is the publishing industry like all other industries out there in that it’s all about who you know?”

These are questions that I get asked a whole lot, and one of the things that writers complain about when it comes to agents is the lack of response, or the brevity of the response. They keep getting the typical four-word email: “Not for me. Thanks.” You may have seen some of those in your inbox as you’ve been querying agents. The problem with such a brief response—and this is something that writers talk about a lot—is you’re wondering, “Was it my query? Was it my manuscript? Was it my synopsis? Was it my hair?” You don’t really know.

There’s no feedback to help you try to improve or to change, and that’s really frustrating for a lot of writers because they don’t have the connections. They can’t just call up an agent and say “Hey, what was wrong with my submission?” And I understand that this is frustrating. But the real problem here is that so many writers treat publication like a do-it-yourself project. Basically, writers who do this are trying to play in the major leagues with little league equipment.

You wouldn’t try to be an NBA basketball player and show up wearing tennis shoes. You wouldn’t show up to an NHL tryout wearing figure skates, right? You don’t have the right equipment. You don’t have the means to play at that high of a level if you’ve got the wrong equipment.

Maybe you think you can get by with those figure skates. Or just any kind of sneaker. But the professionals – the coaches and the players, they all know what the right equipment is. You’re not going to fool them by showing up with the wrong equipment and trying to fake it. Writers who think that publishing is a do-it-yourself project are showing up without the right equipment, and I can tell you right now that the professionals are not fooled, the agents are not fooled. They know what they’re looking for. They know what it means to play at the professional level.

And the result is that you look foolish when you submit like that. You exasperate the agents and your submission goes straight over to the slush pile, rejected.

Now, I don’t know what your profession is, but if a bunch of people were submitting subpar materials to you—if they showed up to NHL tryouts wearing figure skates— you might start to send these “Not for me, thanks” emails.

So, what’s different about the Writing Gym? Well, over in the Writing Gym we believe in real solutions and we’re getting real results. How do we get to the front of the line over in the Writing Gym? Well, I can tell you that just this last week and agent called me and she said, “Annalisa, I’ve got to tell you this is the best query letter I have ever received.”

Best query letter I’ve ever received. From one of our clients over in the Writing Gym! Can you imagine that?

Another Writing Gym member received a full manuscript request within five minutes of sending the query! If you ever queried, you know how rare it is to receive a full manuscript request. Last week, another member got a full manuscript request within 20 minutes. We’ve had many full manuscript requests. I don’t know how many—I’ve lost count just this year—over in the Writing Gym.

These are the kind of results that we’re getting, and it’s because we’re all about real solutions and real results. We’re about knowing what the market is and knowing what an agent is looking for, and we are delivering.

Now, before you go getting any big ideas, the Writing Gym isn’t for everyone. This level of success is a process. It doesn’t just magically happen; it’s a process.

So, if you’re tired of dead ends and rejections with no cause mentioned whatsoever, and you’re willing to put in the work to go through the process that creates publishable manuscripts, let’s chat. Just click here, and you can drop yourself directly into my team’s calendar and you’ll get on the phone for about an hour and talk about where you are, where you’d like to go, and how you can get there.

Until next time, Happy Writing

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