Warning: Hacks for Hacks tips may have harmful side effects on your writing career, and should not be used by minors, adults, writers, poets, scribes, scriveners, journalists, or anybody.
You’re halfway through National Novel Writing Month, which means you’re 35 percent finished with your novel. What better time than now to start thinking about getting it published? I’ve got all the tips you need right here:
The month after National Novel Writing Month — non-writers call it “December” — is the busiest submissions period of the year. You don’t want to get left in the dust, do you? DO YOU?!? You may have heard a few editors and literary agents complain about the volume of NaNoWriMo submissions–they’d like you to think they dread December the way peasants living in the shadow of Dracula’s castle fear sunset. These agents aren’t talking to YOU, my special little snowflake. Those OTHER manuscripts have two things in common: They’re junk, and they’re not YOUR manuscript. Like the dairy-fresh chocolate-chip-cookie-dough ice cream hiding behind the fourteen tubs of freezer-burned vanilla in my icebox, your brilliance will never stand out more than when it’s submitted next to these wannabes. Don’t wait around for an agent to ask for more, send ’em the whole damn thing. If they don’t reply, assume it’s because they dropped dead in awe of your work.
When the dopamine rush of completing a novel fades away, many authors enter their dark night of the soul as they contemplate polishing the hot mess they just put to paper. Avoid all that heartache using an amazing new piece of technology called a spell checker ™. I just found out about these things, folks, and believe me, they’re something else! Editing a novel used to last months and cost me at least three friendships, but with a spell checker, you can fix all your novel’s problems in less than an hour! And if it can’t be fixed by spell checker, it’s not worth worrying about.
Like the dairy-fresh chocolate-chip-cookie-dough ice cream hiding behind the fourteen tubs of freezer-burned vanilla in my icebox, your brilliance will never stand out more than when it’s submitted next to these wannabes.
Write a Dynamite Query Letter
Your query letter is like the parachute that ensures your manuscript has a soft landing in the slush pile. All you have to do is sum up hundreds of pages and a lifetime’s worth of artistic vision into a single page. It’s not as daunting as it sounds–if you can write a 50,000-word novel in thirty days, a one-page query letter should take you about forty-five minutes.
Show Them the Money
A query letter isn’t just about plot and character. Whether you’re submitting to a publisher or an agent, one thing they both want to do is make a lot of money. Show them you can make them a lot of money by comparing your book to other famous works–and then noting how much better yours is. For example: “My book about a funeral home for pets will be bigger than Pet Sematary!” Or, “My book, which deals with sacrifice, the horrors of war, and the struggles of a family in turmoil, is sure to be the next The Bible.”
The Personal Touch
Agents and editors will be more receptive to submissions from writers they already know. You’ve got almost two weeks to kindle a relationship with your dream agent. See if you can meet them at a writers conference. Mail them some cookies a few weeks in advance of your submission. Send her a singing telegram on her birthday. The important thing is that they remember you. “Dear Agent: A few weeks ago you blocked me on Twitter after I sent you fourteen @-replies in an hour. I think you’re the perfect agent to represent my animal time-travel crime thriller.”
That pretty much covers it. The only step left, really is:
Cash Your Big, Fat Advance Check
I expect a thank-you in your novel’s acknowledgements section.
Let’s get to work on those submissions, people. Post your new, Bill-Ferris-inspired queries in the comments and I’ll give you some personalized feedback.