You'll find a link to agent Jonathan Lyons' blog here. Jonathan owns the Lyons Literary Agency in New York and has been blogging for about three months now.
He had a short post on Thursday that made me smile. Here it is in its entirety:
Some things that immediately set off alarm bells (for me, at least):
- 100,000 words or more, and it's not historical fiction
- multi-general (sic) sagas from debut novelists
- bad mouthing a successful writer
- sent from jail
- hints that the sole purpose of the book is to obtain vengeance against a former spouse/family member
- telling me you should be on Oprah
Of the issues Jonathan brings up, the one I see most often, is the first one.
Newbie writers often work in a vacuum. I know I did. I was so focused on completing my first novel that I didn't reach out, or try to network until it was finally finished.
That was probably the biggest mistake I made as a newbie, and I lost almost a year because of it. When I finished my first novel, it took months to then get up to speed on learning the ropes of the publishing industry. I'd encourage other writers not to make the same mistake I did. Start early learning as much as you can about the industry. Network every chance you get.
Back to Jonathan's list. An inflated word count is almost the hallmark of a newbie. I get emails all the time from writers wanting suggestions for agents to query for a 150K or 200K word novel.
Jonathan is halfway right on the word count. The only two genres that are more flexible when it comes to books over 100K words are historical fiction AND sci-fi. In his comment stream, he acknowledges that he doesn't represent sci-fi and so didn't mention it when writing that post.
Check out Jonathan's blog. He did a great post on copyright in May.