where the writers are
Romancing the Book Industry

Today, I received an e-mail from a major literary agency - a genteel turn-down for a historical fiction novel. I'm not keeping count, but this is something in the range of 70-80 turndowns I've received without an opportunity to have an agent or editor read the complete manuscript.

Is my query letter the problem? Not that I can tell - I've spent a goodly amount of time composing it: a teaser sentence, then a bit about the manuscript from my personal frame of reference, and a brief listing of my credentials. 

This is the best writing I've done, and it's been well-vetted, so I'm not worried there.

The manuscript's subject matter may be a problem: it's about a Luftwaffe pilot during the WWII conflict on the eastern front. The man, Germany's most highly decorated warfighter during that conflict, had an interesting history - public and personal - but it may be that merely mentioning a member of Germany's Wehrmacht would take me out of contention publishing-wise. 

 

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One problem I realize I'm having is a lack of contacts. I live in the North Carolina mountains, thus few name writers are available to me on a face to face basis. Oh, I've milked that resource locally for what I can get, but it's not been enough to attract an agent to me.

The latest copy of Poets and Writers magazine focuses on romancing the industry, and while agents do occasionally plumb the slush for good manuscripts, it's clear that personal contact, no matter how random and incidental, is more valuable than a hundred well placed, well-written queries.

So...what to do? I'm going to have to ferret these people out, buy 'em a beer - at least give 'em a card, maybe hook 'em up to this blog, if that matter to them. If anyone out there knows an inventive way to find these book industry people, meet and greet 'em, let me know.