Well, I am just about to find out myself. I have started about a month ago and not had success yet.
I have learned that the main thing, apart from obviously having written a book, is that you have a very good query letter to send to agencies. It has to be that good and irresistible that, one day, an agent will fall in love with it. I have spent a lot of time on the internet doing research, in order to find as much information as possible, and it’s turned out to be THE thing to get through to an agent who will then ask for more material if the query letter has been the only thing they have asked for.
They say it is just as important to put the same amount of care and attention into your query letter as you have done for your book. You’ve got to sell your project, explain why you write to a particular agent, briefly summarize your plot/story, explain why YOU are the best person to have written your book and mention your platform if you have one (this is why I have started this website).
I have had some coaching on how to write a query letter which has made me change my original version completely. I might keep changing it until I will have had success and then maybe publish the one that got me through to an agent as an example for other people to see, here on my website.
I can only tell about (general) fiction as that is my genre: I have learned that it is not the pages that agents/publishers are interested in, to start with, but the word count. If you are J.K. Rowling, you can throw away all rules and just write as long as you fancy, I suppose :-). However, before she was famous, her first Harry Potter book only consisted of 76,944 words! Her longest Harry Potter book has 257,045 words.
If you aren’t J.K. Rowling, then, like me, you have to stick with the rules, particularly if you are a non-published author. I’ve learned that, usually, books are 80,000 – 95,000 words long (absolute max. 110,000). Anything above that will most likely cause immediate rejection by an agent. My book, when I had first called it ‘finished’ consisted of 269,000 words – OUCH! I understood it was too long, even before getting coaching advice, and cut it down to 178,000 words. And I learned that it was still too long. What I have done, since, is cut the book down further and kept different versions. I have versions between 110,000 and 128,000 words, with the 128,000-one being my personal favorite. Depending on public interest here on my website, I am hoping for being able to convince a future literary agent to accept and represent me for my 128,000-version of One Of Us Has To Go :-).
1) I had no money and needed to think of a way to make some.
2) I had the desire to tell my life story from my point of view, in order to ‘challenge’ the view of some people who think their view about me is the only correct one.
3) I'd like to help raise awareness about OCD in general.
4) The desire to grow and gain confidence.
Some people can write quickly and some take more time. Some say it’s good to write under time pressure (deadline), some might say it’s bad for the quality of the story. I’ve heard that six months count as relatively quick. My 2.5 years are rather a long time. But, as this has been my first novel and I have learned quite a bit, I believe I could write a future book faster.
I don’t know yet. I have read and heard, while investigating some writing coaching, that coaches’ clients have been offered a six digits sum as a book deal. If that is true or not, I can’t say. When/If I’ll get a deal, I might give some information about it here on my site.
Currently not for me but some people like it. I think one needs to be careful about whom to go for when using a self-publishing service. It can be a big rip-off! I’d rather like to find a traditional publisher who wants to publish my book than go for the vanity version.
I think it’s a good thing because a lot of literary agents are looking to build long term relationships with their authors. This sounds plausible to me as it takes investment for an agency/publisher to represent somebody. I personally already have my plans for my next novel, Living Lies, which will be of the same genre as One Of Us Has To Go (fiction), based on a true story (again). It is said to be a good idea to keep writing in the same genre for a while, before trying out something different (depending on success).