An Agent Requested My Manuscript. Now What?

An Agent Requested My Manuscript. Now What?

An Agent Requested My Manuscript. Now What?

One of the questions writers often ask me, especially at writers conferences or after they’ve done a pitch slam, is:

 “I’ve gotten a request for a manuscript, but I’m not quite sure if my manuscript is a hundred percent ready, because it either needs a content edit or a copy edit. What should I do?”

This is a great question, and this is my response:

When an agent requests your manuscript at a conference, keep in mind what’s happening from the agent’s point of view.

This agent is meeting with probably up to a hundred writers, some of whom he or she has requested pages, and they’re not going to remember every person. At the end of a whirlwind day, the agent may remember a couple of key moments.

This means if he or she requested pages, and you don’t submit those pages to that agent until three months later or a year later, the agent is not going to notice.

First of all, we as writers hold ourselves accountable, right? We’re like, “Oh my gosh, the agent asked for those pages, what am I going to do? I don’t have the pages ready, and they’re expecting them.” We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

Stop, pause, and take a deep breath.

The agent doesn’t remember who you are.

If he or she does, that’s great for you! I hope they reach out and ask for your manuscript. Likely, the agent has talked to a lot of people and forgotten some.

It’s more important that you have a quality product you can stand behind.

A product that makes that agent jump up and down. A product that’s ready to send to the publishing house.

This is the paramount element of this experience: the polished manuscript gets to the agent right away.

If you’re debating between “send now though it’s not quite ready” or “send later when it looks much better,” I always recommend “send later when it looks much better.” Why? Because the chances the agent will reject any given manuscript are always high.

The goal is to give that agent fewer reasons to reject a manuscript. 

I’m glad to be working on the revisions of so many of those manuscripts with members in the Writing Gym. If you’re looking to pitch to agents, and you want to make sure that you have a high quality product, I’d be happy to talk to you about what that looks like for you.

You can put yourself right into my calendar. We can talk about where you are ready to go and how you can get there.

Until next time, happy writing.

Five Fast Facts About the Writing Gym

Five Fast Facts About the Writing Gym

Five Fast Facts About the Writing Gym

Have you ever considered joining a writing program, but you’re not sure what it’s really like?

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the things that happen in our program, the Writing Gym:

      1. One of the first writers to publish through the Writing Gym now offers retreats based on her book of inspirational poems.
      2. Writing Gym members get access to frequent guest sessions with NYT bestselling authors, top editors, and literary agents.
      3. We’ve had members from the US, India, Australia, and England.
      4. Each May, our writers attend a writing-intensive retreat to a manor house on the coast of England. This year we had an amazing virtual retreat!
      5. One of our writers has received two full manuscript requests from two of the top agencies, including an undisclosed Hollywood opportunity. 

Here’s what some of our writers have to say about the Writing Gym:

Lauren:

“The Writing Gym provides authors with knowledgeable, insider industry information, knowledgeable feedback and a true understanding of how the writing process works so that you can be your best writer.”

Jeanne:

“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.”

Barbara:

“[The Writing Gym] made me believe that I could be a novelist, and actually complete a book which I hadn’t done in the past.” 

Our writers love the Writing Gym and have found great success. Will you be next?

If you’re serious about publishing in 2020, let’s chat. Drop yourself into our calendar here to talk to a member of our team and learn more about our program. 

Until next time. Happy writing.

How To Overcome Self Doubt and Get Published

How To Overcome Self Doubt and Get Published

How to Overcome Self Doubt and Get Published

 

Today, I want to talk about an extraordinary Writing Gym member, Lauren.

I met Lauren at a writing conference. She had been working on a novel for years, but was caught in destructive circles of doubt that prevented her from finishing. At times, these negative feelings were so overwhelming, sitting down at the keyboard felt impossible. 

Weeks would go by where Lauren didn’t touch her writing at all.

“I was afraid of my own writing at times,” she told me. “I felt like I was walking down a dark hallway without a flashlight. I had this story that I wanted to tell really, really badly, but I didn’t know how to do it. And I was scared of doing it wrong.”

Like many serious writers, Lauren was determined to overcome this fear so she could pursue her writing career. She tried various DIY solutions: she read what felt like a zillion articles and books on writing, and even tried a different writing program, but nothing seemed to reach the core of the problem. She received conflicting feedback, which left her more confused.

As you can imagine, this led to more negative emotions, which inhibited her writing even further.

“I was worrying myself to death, I was really getting in my own way and was really frustrated.”

Lauren and I touched base a few times in the years after that conference. Every time we did, she would tell me about her latest efforts: writing classes, books on writing, writing conferences. Each time, she hoped to find a solution to her writing problems. Yet months later, on our next call, Lauren was still stuck.

All that changed when Lauren decided to enroll in the Writing Gym

She began working through our instructive modules, which armed her with a new arsenal of writing techniques. She met weekly with our personal trainer, Gretchen, who helped Lauren restructure her mental approach towards writing. I met with her weekly, took a close look at her writing, and gave her personalized feedback.

That wasn’t the only support she got. The weekly salons in the Writing Gym “transformed my writing,” Lauren says.

Salons are weekly writing workshops we hold among our Gym Rats, in which we spend an hour writing together in a supportive, fun, productive environment. Using neuroscientific principles, this activity rewires the brain to overcome the inner critic, and fall into creative flow.

 

Lauren’s summary of the value of her experience in the Writing Gym:

“The Writing Gym provides authors with knowledgeable, insider industry information, knowledgeable feedback and a true understanding of how the writing process works so that you can be your best writer.”

The secret to Lauren’s final breakthrough was the robust combination of encouragement and the means to discover HER best writer. She quickly transformed from a reluctant, self-doubting writer to a prolific and confident author.

After a few months, Lauren said: 

“I didn’t realize the Writing Gym was going to so thoroughly revolutionize the way that I write. I don’t want to say that I didn’t love writing already, but the Writing Gym has made it so much more enjoyable to write. I didn’t expect that. I thought that writing is always scary and it’s always going to be scary. I had no idea that the Writing Gym would help me to get really, truly excited about writing again.” 

Lauren’s new attitude and approach to writing brought quick success. With her true creativity unlocked, she began to produce original, inspired work, and publishers took notice. Here are the results she began to see:

  • Lauren had a short story published in an anthology just months after joining the Writing Gym.
  • Lauren won a writing contest and her story is now featured on Alexa device.

Like many writers, Lauren had always had talent and originality, but it was buried under her own limiting beliefs. Tragically, many writers don’t take the steps Lauren did to shed these beliefs, and unlock their greatest writer. Neither themselves, nor the world, will get to witness their full creative potential.

Lauren says her only regret is not joining the Writing Gym sooner.

 

“If there was a way for me to tiptoe back in time to when I met you two years ago, I would show myself the reel of all the needless trouble I put myself through. That’s what it was–two years of pointless turmoil, when what I really needed was already right there. I just didn’t realize it. I wish I could condense the two years between then and now.”

If you resonate with Lauren’s story, and you know that you possess deep creative potential, we can help you bring it to the surface.

A word of caution: this is only for serious writers, writers who are tired of solutions that don’t get them where they want to be, and are ready for change NOW.

To go through the Writing Gym process, you need to be ready and determined to publish your work.

 

If that sounds like you, book a call with our team so we can talk about how to unleash your best writer, and help you finally reach your publishing goals.

 

Until next time. Happy writing.

 
Build Your Confidence as a Writer and Push that Fear Away

Build Your Confidence as a Writer and Push that Fear Away

Build Your Confidence as a Writer and Push that Fear Away

Today, it’s an absolutely gorgeous day in New England. There’s so much beautiful foliage, and I’ve been out here walking with my dog, Mia.  

I find that walks are really a great time to think through what you’re writing.

I spoke with one of the writers in the Writing Gym this morning, and we talked about shower moments or walk moments.

These are the moments when you’re doing something else, and you suddenly solve a problem in your novel.

Often in the group, I talk about the work we’re doing in the Writing Gym and other people’s novels, but today I wanted to share thoughts about my own novel, as I’ve been working on some revisions.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with knitting (I’m not a huge knitter), but I have tried to make some scarves before, and in knitting, if you drop a stitch, you have to like take the whole thing apart and go through all the rows. It’s a scary experience, because if you pick up the wrong thing or you drop one stitch, you have to start all over.

It feels like I tore my whole novel apart, but the cool thing about it is there was a time in my early writing life when that would have terrified me. 

I’m truly a beginner when it comes to knitting, but I’m an expert enough in writing now that I can see where all of my rows and stitches are. It’s still a daunting task, but no longer scary or overwhelming.

I share this because you know there are a lot of writing classes, programs, and workshops, but as I was thinking about the work I do with our brave writers in the Writing Gym, it occurred to me that we are open about our fears.

We say, “It’s scary to pull apart your novel,” “This is how I feel about this,” “I’m not sure if I can do this well.” In the Writing Gym, we talk through these fears and give people strategies to work with. 

Even my friends, who are multiple times New York Times bestselling authors, will often say when starting a new book,  “I’m terrified. I don’t know what I’m going to write,” “Maybe my editor’s wrong.”

Fear is just part of the process, and in the Writing Gym, we’re helping people through those fears by talking about them and giving strategies. 

I don’t know how much you’ve been paying attention to what’s going on here in the group and in the Writing Gym, but I’ve lost count of how many publishing contracts we’ve gotten this year. It’s at least a dozen for people over in the Writing Gym, and that’s exciting. That’s results.

Those results are important, because people come to us and say, “I want to live the author lifestyle,” “I want to publish books.” It’s wonderful, and I’m happy for these writers.

I can tell those people are more confident than they were when they started. 

  • They love what they’re doing.
  • They’ve found joy in writing again.
  • They’re publishing.

But, the skills to live the author lifestyle, to have that confidence, to take apart the novel and say:

“You know, this is a little overwhelming,”

“But I know what I’m doing I can see where my rows are.”

“I’m not going to drop any stitches. I know how to do this.”

“I got it.”

That to me is the most amazing thing that happens in the Writing Gym.

So talk to me. What’s writing like for you these days? What are you afraid of? What’s coming up for you? What fears do you have, and what would it be like to have that kind of confidence?

Tell me your story, let’s chat.

Until next time, happy writing.

Don’t Waste Any More Time. Finish That Book Today.

Don’t Waste Any More Time. Finish That Book Today.

Don’t Waste Any More Time. Finish That Book Today.

Today, I’m focusing on Steve Cummins, a member of the Writing Gym. 

He has just completed the VIP Program where writers finish their novels, and I’m excited to share some of his amazing celebrations.

Steve is working on a character-driven medieval fantasy novel. The book touches on themes of sexual inequality and racial inequality, both of which are very relevant today. 

Now 48, Steve began his journey with this book when he was 22. He couldn’t sit long enough to write, and the novel sat neglected for a good decade before he picked it up again in his 30s. 

He got halfway through, and then set it aside for 5 more years.

Until he and I started talking.

Steve is obviously passionate about his novel. So why did it take him so long to finish?

Time and fear. 

Steve was frustrated with his writing experience. He spent hours trying to reacquaint himself with the characters and what they were doing in a particular section, resulting in only getting 45 minutes of writing done.

 Setting aside time to write is hard, folks. You have a lot more free time in your 20s, and then you start to make bigger commitments as you move into your late 20s and 30s. By the time we get to a certain age, we have a lot of commitments.

Despite all his commitments, Steve found the time to write—which is a huge celebration. I want to commend him on that.

How did he find the time? 

Steve’s personal life was so busy, and the friends he talked to about his novel would say, ”Please, you’re never going to finish.” His parents knew he had dreams of being an author, but they probably thought, “Okay, we’re going to die without seeing that happen.”

 

So, he just had to commit. In terms of finding the time to write, Steve told himself, “I’m going to write in the mornings,” especially because his brain is clear in the mornings.

 

What Steve found was that if he didn’t get an hour every morning like he wanted, he found 45 minutes in the evening to continue working. He gave himself a weekly goal, and if he missed a day, he carried that hour over to the next day. 

What Steve utilized was the power of decision.

We are going to have moments where things are happening- recessions, natural disasters, and other events out of our control. I mean, we’re in a pandemic. It is a unique time.

Taking the power to decide to write and standing with that power is so important.

 

 

I asked Steve, “What are some of your experiences in the celebrations you have, things that you were able to see that you hadn’t ever thought of before?”

He said there is a theme with the mindset, both relinquishing control and taking control. There are circumstances where your best-laid plans won’t go the way you want, because life gets in the way. 

Instead of letting circumstances defeat him, Steve tries to recognize the parts that can’t be controlled and remember that it’s okay. 

“Instead, I focus on how I am I going to respond and what I’m going to do? I think about it, and then I move on and focus on what I’m going to do in the present.”  

“It’s about getting rid of the resentment for the things that happened outside of my control, and focusing on what I can control for my next steps.” Such an amazing philosophy.

Through joining the Writing Gym, Steve rediscovered the fun of writing, and also realized his dream of writing a book was not something he gave up on 15 years ago, but a dream he could actually fulfill.

What else did Steve get out of the Writing Gym? He got a community and the personalized help he needed to fully commit to writing his novel.

Writing is a solitary endeavor, but as an extrovert, Steve had a hard time on his writing journey alone. Through the Writing Gym Facebook page, he was able to see all the different celebrations on the page and feel a sense of camaraderie with his fellow writers.

Our Writing Gym coaches, Gretchen and Jill, allowed Steve to share his thoughts and ideas with other writers, and get personalized comments on his writing while also creating room to build his creativity.

Steve loves the Writing Gym, and would recommend joining as a solution to any writers out there who feel stuck. 

Why is the Writing Gym so helpful?

  1. It creates commitment to make the time to write, instead of using the excuse of “I don’t have enough time.”
  2. The neuroscience behind the writing process helps writers remove fear from their writing and embrace creativity
  3. Weekly writing sessions focus on building creativity, and receiving personalized help on whatever writers are working on.
  4. There is a sense of community

All these reasons help Writing Gym members speed up the writing process to get you to publishable- fast. 

Steve has grown so much as a writer during his time in the Writing Gym, and I can’t wait to continue working with him and help realize his dreams of becoming a published author. 

Don’t put your writing dreams on hold. Let’s work together to get to publishable. If you’re interested, let’s chat. I’m happy to help. 

Until next time, happy writing.

 

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How Do You Know if Your Pitch is Any Good?

How Do You Know if Your Pitch is Any Good?

How Do You Know if Your Pitch is Any Good? Get Feedback From a Real Literary Agent 

Many of you know I speak to lots of writers all over the world. One of the things writers talk about is not knowing why their novel was rejected.

”Why me? Why did this happen to me?”

The problem is a lot of the feedback you get from an agent is cookie-cutter. It’s the same letter from every single agent. “Not for me. Thanks, but don’t worry. My opinion is subjective.”Those are pretty frequently-seen terms in a rejection letter from an agent.

So, how do you know which part of your submission is the part that’s not working?

Is it the actual manuscript? Your query? The synopsis? Something else? There’s never been a real way to know- until now.

What we’ve been doing over in the Writing Gym, since our in-person retreats have been postponed due to the Coronavirus, are amazing online experiences and we’re hosing a three-day retreat.

We get together on Zoom, and the online experience is as intimate, fun, and amazing as our in-person experiences have been (minus the amazing food that we usually have when we’re at manor houses).

 

There are opportunities for you to meet with agents in person and to pitch your idea. Not only could you potentially get representation, but more importantly you could get feedback on that pitch.

Imagine getting personalized feedback from someone who’s an actual literary agent in the field. That’s one of the many perks that we’ve got

 

We’ve got writing salons and craft intensives. In the past, we’ve had New York Times Bestselling Author Kel Kade to speak with us about how she got published with a 6-figure advance, and what it’s like to work with a publishing house.

Writing Gym Members and Writing Gym Alumni are prioritized for registration, and if slots are left, we will open it up to the general public.

Be on the lookout for our next retreat! If you’re interested in becoming a Writing Gym member, let’s chat.

In the meanwhile, check out our upcoming events here

But  if you can’t wait any longer and you’re itching to write, enrollment is currently open for salon!

What is salon? Salon is a group writing experience that gives feedback based on neuroscience and designed to optimize your creativity. It is a powerful brain-based experience for writers at all levels in all genres. To sign up for the October 20, 2020 salon, click here.

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