Setting Yourself Apart

by Tamela Hancock Murray, Steve Laube Literary Agency

Tamela Hancock Murray
Tamela Hancock Murray

I’m excited about being on faculty at the Oregon Christian Writers conference this summer —and especially about meeting many talented authors! Participating in a writers’ conference is one way to set yourself apart from other writers since you’ll be able to meet agents and make connections.

Unfortunately, even though I’d love to represent each writer I’m fond of and enjoy hanging out with, I can’t represent everyone for a variety of reasons. That’s okay. CBA has many agents and authors, and God has a plan for all of us.

But let’s say you hope your proposal rises to the top of my stack. Here are a few tips when submitting:

1.) Please follow our guidelines: http://www.stevelaube.com/guidelines/.

2.) Please check over your work to avoid gaffes such as telling us you “have wrote a fiction novel where it’s heroe and heroin fall in love at first site while running frum a bare.” Seriously, read your work. As you can see from this example, you will not fair well with spellchecker hear.

3.) Let us know if you have won or placed in a contest such as the Cascade Writing Contest. This tells us that industry professionals have evaluated your work favorably against other authors who are writing, marketing, and submitting in your genre.

4.) Tell us about all of your activity on social media. Give us numbers. Don’t be afraid. If for instance, you opened your Twitter account yesterday so you could write your proposal today, that’s fine. Tell us your Twitter handle and let us know you are building your following. You are certain to increase your following by the time we begin marketing your proposal to editors. But do engage in social media as soon as possible and stay active.

5.) Be honest about your past publishing history. All of it. That includes the novel you put on Amazon in 2008 that sold 72 copies that you wish would go away. Why? Because we, and every editor we know, will find it. That’s okay. Just tell us about it.

6.) If you need to hire an editor to make your work sparkle, do so. Our agency lists editorial services here: http://www.stevelaube.com/resources/freelance-editorial-services/. Sending us a letter saying, “I know this needs editing” won’t help you with us. And, yes, we seem to receive letters with this phrase at least once a week.

7.) Study the market and make sure you are following the rules of your genre. It is fine to write experimental fiction, but don’t pitch it to any agent as appropriate for Love Inspired.

8.) Last and most definitely not least: Write the best first five pages you possibly can. Make us keep reading. This will assure that you stay on top of the slush pile long enough to get a fuller read.

Now, it is up to you to write a fantastic complete manuscript so you can stay there.

Wishing you God’s best as you plan for the conference. See you there!

~Tamela

Agent Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Literary Agency will review through the Manuscript Submission Program at the 2015 OCW Summer Conference. Tamela will also be teaching a workshop with one of her author clients, Gail Sattler, entitled “To Market, to Market.”

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