Today’s guest post is by Giacomo Giammatteo. He is the author of the new release Murder Takes Time. Follow the link at the bottom to Pump Up Your Book for a chance to win an IPad or a Kindle Fire. Without further ado…
Selecting the Right Agent
If you are a writer, and assuming you’ve sent out enough queries, partials, and full manuscripts, you have, inevitably, gotten rejections. Lots of them. • ‘Writers need thick skins,’ the sage advice goes.• ‘Writers must learn to deal with rejection.’• Writers must do this and that, and yes, the other thing. No matter what the advice, no matter who says it, or how many times you get rejected—it stings, chafes, burns, even hurts…when someone tears your masterpiece apart.
Some people couch their critiques in honey—‘I loved the book, but…’?Okay, that doesn’t sting so much. We’ll categorize that as a honeybee sting. Others are not so tactful. ‘I thought the story started off good, but…’?Wasp sting.?And others… ‘The characters were one-dimensional.’ Full-blown African killer bee assault.
How to Deal With the Rejection
Back when I was searching for an agent, and I got those wonderful rejection letters, here is how I dealt with it.
I marched to my wife’s bookshelf and randomly selected a book. I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that whatever book I picked up I would not like. I’d get a few pages into it, fifteen or twenty at best, before the criticism began. Too much description. Too much emotion. That’s ridiculous, nobody would act that way. My adventure into reading my wife’s books ended the same. I’d close the book, gently place it back on the shelf, and think to myself, I can’t believe someone likes that.
So, why did I do this?
To remind myself that everyone has different tastes.
People don’t like the same foods, drive the same cars, wear the same clothes—or read the same books. My daughter reads only non-fiction. My two sons restrict themselves to magazines on nature or science, or health and fitness. My daughter-in-law has a lot of the same books I do, also a lot I couldn’t conceive of reading.
What’s the Point?
The point is, that agents and editors are no different than other people. They have specific tastes, likes and dislikes. Certain styles they like to read. Voices that appeal to them. Plots that keep them turning the pages.
You cannot write a book that will appeal to all readers. As a writer you know that. It stands to reason you cannot write a book that will appeal to all agents. Just because they are agents doesn’t mean they will recognize your masterpiece.
What’s the Answer?
You can increase your chance of success by customizing your query list. Put more effort into your research on which agents to query.
We will assume you have a solid query. If not, go to the many sites that offer advice and critiques and/or get some critique partners who can help you polish it. Janet Reid at Query Shark has a great site: and Rachelle Gardner always has wonderful advice:
Who to Query
* One of the biggest mistakes writers make is assuming that all agents want to see their book. They don’t.
* And don’t assume all agents who represent fiction want your particular genre. They don’t.
* Don’t assume that if they represent mystery authors they want yours. It might not be the case.
Some agents might love cozy mysteries but be appalled by your hard-core blood-and-guts detective who keeps one foot on the wrong side of the fence. And I’ve always found it odd that science fiction and fantasy are lumped together. I read a lot of fantasy, but seldom read science fiction. And the preferences go even deeper. There are hard-core science fiction people who want the intricate details of how a technology might work, and others who want a love story couched in a make-believe world of fantasy, or a futuristic setting on another world. Or a time traveler, and they don’t care one bit how this person travels in time.
In the mystery genre, there are readers who need the details of what forms a detective fills out when he/she arrives at the scene, what caliber of bullet killed the victim, and who touches what first at the scene. These readers worry about how much blood has pooled at the base of the victim’s spine and how congealed the blood on the floor is…you get my point.
There are other readers who simply need to know the person in the story is dead. Content that the corpse isn’t going to spring up with a ten-inch butcher knife in their hand and strike out at the detective, although that would put it in the horror category, two aisles over.
Researching Your Agents
Invest some time in researching your targets. The internet is a magnificent tool. Look up the agents on any number of query tracking sites, on the agency’s own website, Google them, check out Publisher’s Marketplace, anywhere that will give you a good idea of what this particular agent is representing, and what they are looking for.
I have found that Googling an agent will often turn up results of interviews that someone has done with an agent. Reading these interviews can be invaluable, providing detailed insight into the agent’s likes and dislikes, far more information than is available on the website for that agency. If the agent has a blog, follow it, read the archives, learn about them. The more you know about the agent before you send the query, the better your chances of getting a request.
It takes a long time to write a novel. Sometimes it takes even longer to find an agent. Help yourself out and spend a little extra time researching the agents before you send out that query. You’ll be glad you did.
About Murder Takes Time: A string of brutal murders has bodies piling up in Brooklyn, and Detective Frankie Donovan knows what is going on. Clues left at the crime scenes point to someone from the old neighborhood, and that isn’t good.
Frankie has taken two oaths in his life—the one he took to uphold the law when he became a cop, and the one he took with his two best friends when they were eight years old and inseparable.
Those relationships have forced Frankie into many tough decisions, but now he faces the toughest one of his life; he has five murders to solve and one of those two friends is responsible. If Frankie lets him go, he breaks the oath he took as a cop and risks losing his job. But if he tries to bring him in, he breaks the oath he kept for twenty-five years—and risks losing his life.
In the neighborhood where Frankie Donovan grew up, you never broke an oath.
About Giacomo Giammatteo: In his own words
I live in Texas now, but I grew up in Cleland Heights, a mixed ethnic neighborhood in Wilmington, Delaware that sat on the fringes of the Italian, Irish and Polish neighborhoods. The main characters of Murder Takes Time grew up in Cleland Heights and many of the scenes in the book were taken from real-life experiences. Somehow I survived the transition to adulthood, but when my kids were young I left the Northeast and settled in Texas, where my wife suggested we get a few animals. I should have known better; we now have a full-blown animal sanctuary with rescues from all over. At last count we had 41 animals—12 dogs, a horse, a three-legged cat and 26 pigs.
Oh, and one crazy—and very large—wild boar, who takes walks with me every day and happens to also be my best buddy.
Since this is a bio some of you might wonder what I do. By day I am a headhunter, scouring the country for top talent to fill jobs in the biotech and medical device industry. In the evening I help my wife tend the animals, and at night—late at night—I turn into a writer.
Go check out the website: www.giacomogiammatteo.com.
Join Giacomo Giammatteo as he tours the blogosphere June 18 – August 31,2012 with his mystery/suspense novel Murder Takes Time! Giacomo has agreed to give away an iPad 3, a Kindle Fire, and a $50 Gift Certificate (payable by Paypal). The iPad3 and Kindle Fire winners will be determined by Rafflecopter and the gift certificate will go to the person who comments the most during his 2 month tour. If there is a tie, the winner will be chosen through Random.org!
This contest begins June 18 and ends on August 17, 2012. This contest is open to U.S. and Canadian citizens only. Sorry international!
Visit the authors’ official tour page to gain entries and find out where else they will be appearing so you won’t miss out on a great opportunity to win the iPad 3, Kindle Fire and/or the $50 bonus.