Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What Agents Wish You Knew - Or Why You Should Wait Until Your Book Is REALLY Ready To Query!

When I was just a fresh-faced Midwesterner, brand new to LA, I thought, hey, I'm in LA, maybe I should be an actor! (Because, you know, everyone was doing it.) So I started going to these Casting Director (*Casting Directors are the ones who go out and find actors, and audition them for roles in movies) workshops where actors would get a chance to hear a Casting Director speak about what they're casting, and give out some acting advice. One of the things I heard over and over from Casting Directors was "We want you to be good."

No one believed them.

The veteran actors who had been auditioning for years were sure that it was just some line they used to make them sound good, (because Casting Directors only wanted already famous people, anyway). And newbie actors thought, why would that famous casting director care about me? I'm nobody, there's no way they'd ever cast me.

It wasn't until I became a Casting Director myself and was faced with casting 6 major roles in my own film that I understood. It's true, Casting Directors are praying that every single actor that walks through the door is so amazing that they're THE ONE. They get excited by each new face they see. They really truly want actors to be good.

Here's why:

1. Auditioning actors is very time-consuming.
- First they have to sort through hundreds (literally) of headshots to find the ones who look most like what the role requires.
- Then they have to schedule auditions for all those with the right look (that might be a hundred again).
- Then they have to sit down with each one of those actors and have them read through the scene, narrow down the good ones, and do it all over again until they have 5 or 6 of the best that they can take to the director and producers.

If an actor comes in who is so amazing that they get immediately skip ahead to the meeting directors and producers stage, think of all the time the Casting Director has saved!

2. When a Casting Director finds the perfect actor for a role, that actor and film can win awards, which means more recognition and more money for the Casting Director. It's not in their best interest to cast their Uncle's cousin's best friend's kid. It just isn't.

Hmm... Does any of this sound familiar?

If you substitute Writer for Actor, Agent for Casting Director, and Editor and Publishers for Director and Producers, (and okay, obviously, books for movies) it sounds a lot like the publishing world, doesn't it?

So this is what I want you to know:


Before they click open your email they probably say a silent prayer like, Please God let this one be THE ONE!

Even though they might complain about their overflowing inboxes, they secretly thrill at all of those potential bestsellers just waiting for them.

How You Can Take Advantage Of This Knowledge:

Then, write a query letter that SHOWS your book is THE ONE. (Don't write "This is the book you've been waiting for!" Just. Don't.)

Don't let yourself think, It doesn't matter anyway, it's not like that agent will ever really rep me, I'll just send my query/partial/full and get the rejection over with. (WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?? WHY WOULDN'T YOU WAIT AND SEND SOMETHING YOU BELIEVED IN 100%?)

Because trust me, that agent isn't looking at their inbox thinking I can't wait to reject all of these losers today! They're thinking, PLEASE let this next one be THE ONE!


Melissa said...

Excellent advice. I think too many people send out their work when it's not ready.

Candyland said...

You're so right. Now it's just making sure what we've written is at the level to make them see the "one"

Cindy said...

This really hits home with me. I'm working on my first novel and everyday I'm telling myself that it has to be perfect. It has to be exactly what I think it can be. Then, I tell myself I have to BELIEVE in myself. I think that's the hardest part. It's so easy to think no one will want to read what you have to say.

Thank you for this post. I loved it!

middle grade ninja said...

That's a great way of looking at things. Thanks for sharing!

Lynnette Labelle said...

Nice post. I love the analogy.

Lynnette Labelle

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Great post! I loved hearing about the casting director side of things. Great analogy.

Becca C. said...

Awesome, awesome, awesome. Really hits home with me. Why is it so difficult to make something the best it can be?! It's funny that it's so hard.

Allison said...

Awesome analogy and advice! I never really thought of things quite in this way before.

Jen said...

Excellent advice! Your blog is great! I know that I'm not even close to the query stage but it is smart to know that it has to be ready to send out, it has to be as perfect as you can make it. They have to WANT your book... really WANT your book!!

Ha we are close to the same... both just reached 500 followers! Congratulatoins!!

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