When San Diego author Matt Coyle spoke to the San Joaquin Sisters-in-Crime last weekend, he confided that his path to publication took 13 years to accomplish. He dreamed of being a writer since age 12 but his epiphany was “to write a book you actually have to write.” He explained his Irish heritage of guilt, regret and unfulfilled potential finally propelled him to try his hand at a novel. The game plan was to write a book, sell it, get a home in La Jolla and become famous. The book was done in five months.
What he didn’t realize, as he explained to the group, is that 80% of agents will ignore a budding author. He discovered there was much negativity in the publishing world. Maybe taking a writing class would help. Under the tutelage of mystery author Carolyn Wheat, Coyle took 3 years to revise. He received “a very close rejection.” Wheat gave him 12 single-spaced pages of “suggestions” and it took a few more years to polish the manuscript.
Persistence paid off as “Yesterday’s Echo” went on to win the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, the Ben Franklin Silver Award and the San Diego Book Award. He scored high praise for his second book, “Night Tremors” from mystery masters Robert Crais and T. Jefferson Parker.
Coyle had excellent advice for the group. He suggested signing up for writers’ conferences where agents attend and, with a fee of about $50, five pages can be submitted for their input and interest. One-on-one sessions last approximately 15 minutes. While in the past agents were willing to work with an author, now they expect the manuscript to be polished and ready to go. Do your research before going to a conference and before meeting authors. By attending book signings and conferences, published authors will start recognizing you and perhaps start talking with you.
It’s all about networking and it can make a difference!
This is great advice.