When image consultant Allison Campbell attends an award ceremony to honor a designer friend, she’s thrust into a murder investigation. Only this time, it’s personal.
A former boyfriend is dead, slain on the streets of Philadelphia. His widow claims he was meeting with Allison, yet Allison hadn’t spoken to him in years. Nothing about his death—or life—makes sense. When compromising photos from their past arrive at Allison’s office, they raise more questions than they answer.
Driven to find justice, Allison deconstructs the image her ex had created for himself, looking for clues about the man he’d become. As her hunt for the truth unveils secrets, Allison’s past and present collide—with deadly results.
Books in the Allison Campbell Mystery Series:
KILLER IMAGE (#1)
DEADLY ASSETS (#2)
DYING BRAND (#3)
Five Mistakes Writers Make When Approaching Agents
You’ve just completed that first draft of your romantic suspense novel. It took you three years, but you finally wrote “The End” on page 425, right after the climactic closing scene. You’re excited to get your book out into the world. Now what? It’s time to send it out to agents…right?
In February, I had the good fortune of speaking at a fabulous book festival in Florida. The number one question I heard from aspiring authors was “how do I find an agent?”—often followed by an explanation of the lengths the author had gone to in order to find representation. Surrounding almost every conversation was a heavy cloud of frustration. “Finding an agent is harder than getting published,” one author bemoaned. “I’m ready to give up.” I understand. I have far more rejection slips from agents than publishers and there were definitely times I, too, felt like finding an agent was the hardest part of the journey. But frustration wasn’t the only common thread among authors. I also heard a few of the same mistakes repeated time and time again—some of which I had made, too.
So if you’ve finished that first draft of a novel and have decided representation by a literary agent is right for you, here are five mistakes to avoid:
1. Sending out an unpolished manuscript. No matter how tempting it is to type “The End” and start querying agents, resist the urge. Make sure your manuscript has been edited, first for substance and then for typos and formatting errors, and if you can have a few trusted beta readers review it, too, even better. You may only have one shot to make a good impression, and sending your dream rep an unfinished or unprofessional “final” product won’t help you win their interest.
2. Not doing your research. Every literary agent doesn’t represent every genre. It’s important to find someone who sells what you write. Acquaint yourself with legitimate literary agents who sell books similar to yours. This means you need to understand what you write—Is it romantic suspense or is it straight romance?—and then you need to identify a list of agents who focus on that genre. How can you do that? There are many resources available, from Publishers Marketplace (a paid online subscription service) to free online databases like AgentQuery.com. You can also read the Acknowledgments section of your favorite novels, books similar to yours, to see whom those authors thank—often their agents are mentioned.
3. Writing a rambling query letter or one that’s full of grammatical errors. Your query letter is your calling card. Make sure it’s tightly written and enticing. Some agents only want to see a query letter, and from there they will decide whether to request a partial or full manuscript, so that one-page note may be the only thing standing between you and your dream agent. If you search online, you can find many sample query letters. Your query should include a hook, a short summary of your book, a bio, and a description of what materials are available. And it doesn’t hurt to tell agents what you want to accomplish. I started every query letter by saying I would like that agent to represent me and why.
4. Relying on mass correspondence. One word: personalize. Agents are people, and they want to be treated with dignity and respect. It’s easy to fall into the convenience trap and send one email (or form letter) to a hundred agents at once. Don’t do it. Take the time to personalize your queries. At the very least, get a prospective agent’s name right. But if you can, add something else to personalize your note: mention another author they represent who writes books similar to yours, or if you’ve met this agent at a conference, say that in your query.
5. Being a renegade. I asked several agents what drives them crazy and they all mentioned the same thing: authors who don’t follow the rules. It may be tempting to be the rebel and overnight your manuscript with a box of chocolates, or call your dream agent every morning at the same time to ask whether they received your query—you’ll stand out, right? But for every author for whom these tactics worked, there are probably hundreds who found themselves rejected—before their manuscript was even considered. Good literary agents receive many queries each week. They want quality writing and a story that will hold their attention, not antics. So read their guidelines carefully—they should be posted on their websites—and follow them. If they only accept queries during certain days, only send them on those days. If they prefer a query, not an attached manuscript, don’t email them your entire book. While it’s possible they’ll take notice of you if you buck the system, it may not be in the way you would like. Instead, be polite. Put that energy into your submission package and create the most polished, professional materials possible.
About the Author
Wendy Tyson is an author, lawyer and former therapist whose background has inspired her mysteries and thrillers. Her latest novel, DEADLY ASSETS, the second in the Allison Campbell mystery series, was released on July 22. The first Campbell novel, KILLER IMAGE, was named a best mystery for book clubs in 2014 by Examiner.com and the third Campbell installment, DYING BRAND, is due to be released on May 26. Wendy lives on a micro-farm near Philadelphia with her husband, three sons and two muses, dogs Molly and Driggs.