Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Meeting agent Kathryn Beaumont

Luck was on my side the week before Memorial Day as I learned of a writers conference right in my backyard. Well, two hours south of the six acres, but still! I was hoping that I could have a 30-minute consult with the great Kathryn Beaumont from Kneerim & Williams. I have been following her on twitter, have read up on her achievements (nothing small about them), love her personality, and adore her style. I was so glad when the coordinator of the conference emailed me to let me know there was indeed time for me on Kathryn's consult schedule. YEAH! I was so excited! A real live agent! I sent my first 7,000 words to the coordinator to send along to Kathryn for review. I have not been crazy about the first chapter, so I wanted her to give me suggestions that would give me an edge when I start to query agents. First of all, she was just like I expected: warm, funny, nice, and intelligent. My kind of person. Once we sat down she said is, "How can I best help you?" I told her, "I am ready for an agent for my memoir, White Bees." Here is the summary of her advice:
  1. "Memoirs are the hardest kind of book to sell to publishers. To increase your chances of being picked up, write your memoir like a novel."
  2. "Hit me over the head with the issue of your book right up front." (My first chapter danced around the "issue" but nothing substantial.)
  3. Make the memoir universal. Relate it to the masses. "If I am selling this book to Random House, everyone on the editorial board must want to read your book. You need to think about that."
  4. She recommended reading, Wild, to gather ideas for my own book.
  5. "Don't start a book with a flashback." Oops.
  6. She also said when querying agents you don't always have to send the first ten pages (as typically requested)—instead, you can send your BEST ten pages.
  7. The most welcome news was her encouragement to me that I am a "very good writer" and "this story could help so many people."
As luck would have it (again) she asked me to send her the full manuscript in a query (but not for at least two months - don't rush it! Fix the first chapter! Make it universal!). I was blown away by her generous advice, candid feedback, and spark of interest in my book. What a pleasure to meet someone who truly is an advocate for the writer. Can't wait to finish my new beginning (and get it right)!