I have just finished writing an art crime mystery/romantic comedy novel, “The Artful Dodgers and the Cupcake Cop.”

Lots of people are congratulating me and asking where they can get a copy. Thank you so much for that encouragement, but now is a good time to let everyone know what work follows between the blood, sweat, tears, joy, laughter, and sense of fulfillment of typing the last word of a novel and having the novel available to readers.

As singer/songwriter Paul Williams wrote, “We’ve Only Just Begun,” and this applies to our journey as a traditionally published author at this point.

Sadly, the manuscript doesn’t just find itself an agent who will, in turn, find a publisher to buy the book and put it on shelves all hard bound with a pretty cover. To find an agent, the author must research hundreds of agents to match what the agents are seeking and find the ones whose list best matches his novel. Remember, do not query more than one agent at any one agency. It is important to keep records of who wants what, timeframes involved, submission guidelines, and anything else related to getting the book in their hands. It can get confusing.

Next comes the dreaded process of composing query letters. I suggest taking the time to write letters with key wording to each agent instead of trying to make one fit all. (My choice of adjective “dreaded” is earning its place in the sentence by now.) Be sure to do what the agents ask. Doing just one thing on their “don’t-do” list causes all that hard work to go straight to the delete button, file 13, la-la land of trash.

The other thing needed is a book synopsis that follows correct form and rules.

Neither of the last two things should ever be sent before the manuscript is edited many times, polished, and ready to send. Don’t think it is good to be proactive. If an author sends a query, and by the grace of the literary muses, gets a quick call back and has nothing to send, his chance is gone. Never tell an agent to wait for you.

Some local writing groups might help you with your writing.

Our Writers Own Workshops and the Saturday Writers’ Tools Class will have sessions to teach and practice the process of writing query letters and synopsis pieces to submit. OWOW and Writers’ Tools provide fun and tips for area writers. The organizations are free under the Charlotte County Arts and Humanities and Englewood Library.

The OWOW and Writers’ Tools Class at Englewood Charlotte Library, 3450 Access Road, Englewood, will have only one meeting this month, and it’s Saturday (Dec. 8). Everyone is welcome to attend at 11 a.m., and come back on Jan. 12 to find out more about the post “the end” process for a writer as well as what will be the focus after the first of the year. Come share your writing and ideas.

Another local group, Suncoast Writers Guild, has general business meetings on the first Saturday of each month January through May at 10:30 a.m. at Elsie Quirk Library, 100 W. Dearborn St. SWG Inc. swore in board members Harry Barnes as president, Gloria Arthur as vice president, Eileen Collins as secretary and Lina Decrescenzo as treasurer for 2019. The board makes decisions about programs and policy for the group and presents them at the business meetings.

SWG annual $20 dues need to be paid at the Jan. 5 meeting to cover all SWG activities. Other monthly meetings for SWG members include a poetry pod that meets and shares poetry at the Englewood Art Center at 10:30 a.m. on the second Friday each month. On the third Saturday at 10:30 a.m. members are urged to meet at Elsie Quirk Library to read and share prose. Those wishing to join SWG can do so at the meeting by seeing Linda Hess, membership chair.

The Englewood Authors always meet at 5 p.m. the second Wednesday monthly at Elsie Quirk Library to share on going and new pieces. They welcome everyone to drop by free Jan. 9.

I wish all of you Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Tammie Diehl writes a regular column on writing. You can email her at tamiamifl@comcast.net.

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