We are not born with literary super strength or the ability to leap 120k word books in a single bound. We can't fly directly to an agent's desk and wow her with our manly (or womanly) physique and strong jawbone. Nope, no laser vision either (though I'm not sure why we would need that in the first place).
We do, however, have a f**king AWESOME utility belt. We have big brains and the drive to challenge the odds. We have grappling hooks to pull us out of the depths of depression or frustration. We don armor that makes us (mostly) bulletproof. Each of us has a team of Alfreds and Robins, advising us, encouraging us, protecting us, and fighting for us. Our talent isn't a product of genetics or selective breeding. We had to exercise our brains and work hard for our abilities.
And though a writer can still kick butt without a utility belt, I want to focus on the perks of having that belt, and the gadgets that I keep in mine.
- AgentQueryConnect: By far the best tool in my belt. AQC provides a community that a serious writer can't live without. From query crits to a shoulder to cry on when you make a stupid mistake, this is writer paradise.
- QueryTracker: Sending out queries takes A LOT of organization and research. QT brings almost all of the info to a single, well organized location. And to top it all off it Tracks the Queries you send...whoda thunk.
- Twitter: Following agents, agencies, and other writers on Twitter will guarantee you stay up to date on any and all writerly news. New agents, contests, agents closing/opening to submissions, agent wishlists, answers to FAQs, who sold what to where...all that and more can be found on Twitter.
- Reddit: Also known as the Front Page of the Internet, Reddit is a lesser known writing resource though it has some exceptional advice when it comes to writing, publishing, self-publishing, marketing, etc. Not only that, but there are numerous writer interviews (called Ask Me Anythings or AMAs), explaining writer's mistakes, successes, and everything in between. You DO have to dig a bit to find the info, but it's there. And here's proof, and more proof, and an AMA
- Absolute Write: Great info, great forums. Very helpful in doing research on the reputation of agents and agencies. Any time I'm researching an agent, this is the first place I check.
- Preditors and Editors: A very large list of agents, agencies, publishers, and even lawyers. They let you know whether they charge fees (always avoid these agents) or if there is/was any funny business going on in the past or present. The site gives you a very clear 'Not Recommended', 'Recommended', or 'Highly Recommended' next to most agent's names. Also, alphabetized.
If you have any more 'secret weapons' to add to the list, mention them in the comments below and I'll update the post. The above sites are just the sites in my
bookmark bar utility belt. :D