>Grabbing the agent’s attention – the first time. Something so hard to do, yet so many of us are striving to do so. I’m sure if I asked everyone to raise their hands if I asked ‘who all have queried a project way too early?’ – 99% of us would all raise our hands. Right?

Both of mine would be up! I’m in the process of querying for my current novel. I sent out queries WAY too early and lost the possibility of grabbing those agents I REALLY wanted to be interested – all because my query was horrible (I thought it was good … until I got to draft 9 of current query and realize I was oh so wrong!), my opening sucked and I just wasn’t ready.

I’ve learned a lesson in all this. The reason I don’t have an agent right now is because I wasn’t ready when I started to look. If I compare my novel RIGHT NOW to what it was with that first query – OUCH. When I started my writing journey, I really didn’t understand the concept of beta readers. BOY DO I UNDERSTAND NOW!

Right now my first 6000 pages are with a freelance editor. If you haven’t heard of Camy Tang from Story Sensei – please go now and look! The night before I left for the conference I emailed her in a panic – HELP ME WITH MY FIRST 2 PAGES PLEASE!!!!! She is such a sweetie. Not only did she help me – she ripped my first 2 pages apart and showed me how to make it better. Sometimes you need an extra set of eyes – not just beta’s – but someone who KNOWS what they are doing.

At the conference, Rachelle Gardner talked about this. She strongly recommended that for those of us who are unpublished – to run away from having our work professionally edited – the complete manuscript. Yes, it’s a huge temptation – to have someone go through my whole book and make it better for me – but then I’m not showing my agent and future editor my strengths and weaknesses as a writer. So if I do sign with an agent who then sells my book to a publisher – imagine their surprise when my second novel is ready and they see my weaknesses. Opps. Show them upfront – they already know there’s work to be done.

But … she did recommend getting a manuscript critique (thank goodness). On her blog are various freelance editors she recommends. When I mentioned Camy to her, she knew of her and told me I was in good hands (not those exact words). That critique is necessary I think. The editor will go through a section of your novel and show you, the writer the areas you need to work on, things to fix and areas to change. Then you take those suggestions for that ‘small’ bit and work it through your whole manuscript – because we all know if those problems are in the beginning, they might just be at the end too.

My novel is out with an agent right now and I have another agent looking over my first few pages. But if they both pass – I think I’m going to sit tight for a bit, wait for my critique from Camy Tang and then during March break when I’m home with the kids – tear that novel apart and fix it!

Then I think I’ll be ready. Man, I wish I had known this in the beginning!