chasingthecrazies

Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…

Monday Musings: Writing Communities April 29, 2013

I’ve been writing for a long time, but it wasn’t until about a year ago that I stumbled upon an internet writing community.  I’d heard about places like Absolute Write and AgentQuery Connect but had never ventured onto either site.  Why did I hesitate? Well, there were a couple of reasons:

 

 

1) I was afraid to ask questions. Would they be lame? Would they show just how truly uneducated I was about the publishing world?

 

2) If I shared my pages and/or my query, would I be showing my fellow writers what a hack I was?

 

3) What did I have to offer?  One of the things about a writing community is the give and take.  Yes, you share your work, but you’re also encouraged to engage with others, and critique their work.  I wasn’t sure any feedback I could offer would be of value.

 

 

But as with any challenge, you have to be willing to take a risk.  So with a big leap, I jumped into the writing community over at AgentQuery Connect.  What did I find?  An amazing website where writers of all ages, and genres, share their work, and go out of their way to support one another.  Many of the writers on the site were kind enough to agree to give me my first interviews for this blog.  Other writers have become my critique partners, while countless others have commented on my query and added invaluable feedback to my work.

 

 

If you are new to the writing world, or are just hesitant about joining a writing community, I highly encourage you to check one out.  Not only will it provide you with valuable feedback, and help educate you about the world of publishing, it will also help connect you to other writers who want to support you as you try to reach your publishing goal.

 

 

Are you involved in an online writing community?  What kind of value has it added to your work?  Please share with me in the comments.

 

Contests: Are You (and Your Manuscript) Ready? April 26, 2013

Filed under: Blog,contest,Publishing — chasingthecrazies @ 3:06 pm
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There is truth to the saying that the real work begins when you write “The End” on your manuscript. Once the final word is on the page it’s on to revisions and edits. And then, hopefully, a great manuscript gets passed on to beta readers and critique partners for further review.

 

But let’s say you’ve already gone through this process, and are ready to query. You put your letter together and hit “send” and wait. And wait.  It’s frustrating, but you can do other things in the meantime to further your chance to get an agent.  You can go to conferences, start following agents on social media, and you can enter contests.

 

Contests are an amazing way to gain access to, and share your work with, many agents at once.  They allow you to share everything from your query, to your pitch, to even your first 250 words or first page.  Many success stories have come out of contests (I know one personally). So if you want to put in the time and effort, contests are another good way to approach agents.

 

Now let me state for the record that contests in many ways take work. The people who coordinate and organize them require you to follow a specific submission process in order to participate.  In addition, many times submission windows are only open for a specific date and time, and have a limit on how many entries can be included. So, as with querying, you must DO YOUR HOMEWORK.

 

Some things to think about…

 

 

1) Check out the people/blog holding the contest.  Make sure they are reputable and have the agent contacts that will help further your writing.

 

2) Follow rules regarding how many manuscripts you are allowed to submit.

 

3) Confirm the contest is looking for your type of manuscript. Please don’t perfect your query and first 250 for your women’s literary fiction manuscript only to get rejected because the contest only wants Middle Grade and Young Adult.

 

A couple of other things to keep in mind…

 

 

1) Unless otherwise stated, most contests require a COMPLETED manuscript. Do not send in an entry for an MS that is only half-done. If you get a request, the agent is going to want to see the material right away – not in six months – when it’s done.

 

2) If you have an agent, DO NOT enter.  Be considerate of aspiring writers. Don’t take their place in a contest where they have an opportunity to connect with an agent when you already have one.

 

With this all being said, do you think you’re ready to enter a contest? If so, I’ve started a list of three up-and-coming opportunities. If you know of more, please send me a comment and I will update the list.

 

And one last thing.  Even if you don’t get a request, contests are a great place to connect with fellow writers (especially if you are required to comment on their work).  Take the opportunity to network and meet other people who write in your genre. Who knows, maybe you’ll build a friendship that will last a lifetime!

 

Good luck!

 

 

May Pitch + 250

 

Hosted by: Adventures in YA and Children’s Publishing

 

Dates: Submission window will open Sunday, April 28th at 3:00pm EST and close on May 3rd at 11:00pm EST, or when they receive 100 submissions, whichever comes first.

 

Details: Pitch+250 is open to YA, NA, and MG submissions of a pitch (100 words max) and the first 250 words of your completed manuscript. It will consist of three rounds of judging by bloggers, published authors, and agents. Full contest details here: http://childrenspublishing.blogspot.com/2013/04/announcing-may-pitch250-contest.html

 

More details on judges can be found here: http://childrenspublishing.blogspot.com/2013/04/announcing-judges-for-may-pitch250.html

 

 

The Writer’s Voice

 

Hosted by: Brenda Drake, Cupid’s Literary Connection, Mother. Write. Repeat. and Love YA

 

Dates: Begins May 1 – with judging and mentoring going on through the end of May

 

Details: “The Writer’s Voice” is a multi-blog, multi-agent contest hosted by Cupid of Cupid’s Literary Connection, Krista Van Dolzer of Mother. Write. (Repeat.), Monica B.W. of LoveYA, and Brenda Drake. The premise is based on NBC’s singing reality show The Voice, so the four writers above will serve as coaches and select projects for their individual teams based on queries and first pages.

 

Link: Brenda Drake’s Blog for full contest details

 

 

QueryKombat

 

Hosted by: Bloggers Michelle4LaughsWriter’s Outworld and SC Write

 

Dates: The submission window opens at 11AM EST on Monday, May 13th and close at 11AM Friday, May 17th or when they receive 225 entries.

 

Details: Query Kombat will host 64 kombatants in a single-elimination, tournament style query-off. There will be a total of six rounds in Query Kombat. First opponents will be grouped by target audience (ie. YA, NA, Adult, and MG). After that, a bracket-style grid will dictate future opponents. If you secure a spot in the tournaments, your query and the first 250 words (to the end of a complete sentence) will be pitted against another query and first 250 words. Judges will read each match-up and vote ‘Victory’ on the best entry (Remember, this is subjective). The entry with the most ‘victories’ will advance to the next round until only one champion remains.

 

 

Link: For more details you can go here: http://www.michelle4laughs.blogspot.com/2013/04/announcing-query-kombat-contest-and.html

 

W.O.W. – Writer Odyssey Wednesday with Maggie Hall April 24, 2013

Maggie

 

 

 

One thing I always ask in the W.O.W. is how critique partners affect a writer‘s work.  I can only count on one hand the number of writers who have told me they do not use CPs.  How they do it, I don’t know.  CPs and beta readers, I believe, are critical to the writing process and today’s featured writer, Maggie Hall agrees.

 

Maggie is part of a group blog called the YA Misfits.  This group supports one another through the writing, revising, querying and eventual submission process.  They are proof that with a great support network, any writer can reach their potential.

 

Many thanks to Maggie for sharing her writing journey…

 

 

Amy: You don’t see a lot of YA International Thrillers in the current marketplace. What inspired you to write The ELITE?

 

Maggie: Mostly that there weren’t a lot of YA International Thrillers in the marketplace! 🙂 I read a lot of adult International Thrillers and love the genre, and always wished there was more like it in YA, so when the idea for this one came to me, I knew I had to write it. Plus, I love traveling and it was really fun to get to use some of my experience in writing this book.

 

 

Amy: How many completed manuscripts did you query before THE ELITE?

 

Maggie: This is my very first manuscript, so none!

 

 

Amy: I know you are part of the blog group, YA Misfits.  How did you connect with them, and how has knowing them affected your writing?

 

Maggie: Twitter, contests, forums…we met all over the place online, essentially. I met the first Misfits I knew through seeing each others’ entries on WriteOnCon then connecting through Twitter, and then met their friends, and they met mine, and soon we had this wonderful group of writers, and thought hey, wouldn’t it be fun if we started a group blog? And so YA Misfits was born.

 

Most of my critique partners are Misfits, and CPs in general changed my writing life. There’s only so much you can do to your writing on your own, and they have been incredibly helpful. And besides help on my actual MS, I would never have made it through the publishing process without them to lean on and vent to and freak out with…everyone needs a few good CPs!

 

 

Amy: Did your query for THE ELITE come easily or did it go through many drafts?

 

Maggie: It went through quite a few drafts. I started messing with the query well before the MS was done, so I had time to let it evolve naturally, and to get lots of advice! I had friends read it, posted it on forums…I have a tendency to ramble on, and the first couple drafts definitely showed that!

 

 

Amy: How many agents did you query for THE ELITE? Did you receive immediate responses or did you have to wait a while for replies?

 

Maggie: I queried 14 agents. Most of them were actually very quick–I got lucky!

 

 

Amy: Can you give a short summary of your call with your agent, Claudia Ballard? How did you know she was the right agent for you? 

 

Maggie: I knew Claudia was the right agent when she told me what was wrong with the book. 🙂 Some agents aren’t very editorial (which is fine!) but I love having an agent who made me confident that she wouldn’t send my book out on sub until she thought it was really ready. And besides the edits, she was incredibly supportive, too. I came out of our first call knowing she loved the book and could see good things happening for it.

 

The rest of the call with her was pretty standard, I suppose–we talked about what she was looking for out of me, what I wanted out of my future as a writer, etc!

 

 

Amy: As most writers know, publishing is a very difficult business. What was the one thing you think you did to garner agent interest?

 

Maggie: I think the fact that my MS was different from what agents usually see in the slush pile was the most important factor in hooking them initially. Agents see so many queries, anything that makes your story stand out in a good, exciting way is really going to help you.

 

 

Amy: Was there ever a time you thought about giving up on your writing dream? If so, what motivated you to keep writing?

 

Maggie: All the time. I thought I’d never get my draft finished, then I thought I’d never think it was good enough to query, then when I was revising with my agent, I definitely doubted my ability to make it good enough to go on sub. Doubt, doubt, and more doubt. I was ready to throw in the towel a million times.

 

And what motivated me to go on? First of all, see my answer about CPs, above…my amazing CPs have encouraged me, been a shoulder to cry on, and kicked my butt into gear more times than I can count. If it weren’t for them being there for me through thick and thin, I very well might have quit at some point. And also, the love of writing. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true. Every time I tried to ignore my writing, or thought of giving up, it would be there, nagging at me, and I know there’s no way I could really quit. Maybe writers really are a little crazy!

 

 

More on THE ELITE:

 

 

Sixteen-year-old Avery West’s newfound family can shut down Prada at the Champs-Elysees when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. They are part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Elite, and they think Avery is the key to an ancient prophecy. Now some of the Elite want to use her as a pawn. Some want her dead. 

 

To unravel the mystery putting her in danger, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the crypts of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul and through a web of ancient legends and lies. And even more complicated are the two boys she’s with—beautiful, volatile Stellan and mysterious, magnetic Jack—who might be part of the solution, or who might be her undoing…because the conspiracy goes deeper than anyone could have guessed. 

 

Maggie Hall is a former bookstore events coordinator and world traveler, who has petted tigers in Thailand, eaten her way through Italy, and taken thousands of miles of trains across India. When she’s not on the other side of the world, she likes to watch USC football and blog about young adult literature for YA Misfits. She recently relocated from Albuquerque to New Orleans with her husband and three cats.

 

 

Maggie is represented by Claudia Ballard at William Morris Endeavor and the first book in her YA International Thriller trilogy, currently called THE ELITE, will be published by Putnam/Penguin in fall 2014. You can add it to Goodreads here. For more on Maggie, check out her website, blog or follow her on Twitter @MaggieEHall

 

Writers: Do You Push Yourself? April 22, 2013

 

The query trenches suck.  There I said it. I’ve been saying it for a while.  The only thing keeping me sane right now are my writing buds, who are going through the same thing, and my need to distract myself with developing something new.

 

I was fortunate enough a while back to write a short story, “Emanate”, which was included in The Fall anthology published by Elephant’s Bookshelf Press.  It was a true challenge for me.

 

First off, the only time I’ve ever written a short was for a creative writing class some time back – and it was hard.  Well, who am I kidding? It was almost freaking impossible. Create an entire story with a beginning, middle and end in less than 10k? Yeah, it was pretty difficult.  But it tested me in ways I never expected.

 

“Emanate” still had a YA voice but this time it was male. I don’t write male protagonists. Ever. But I wanted to push myself.  See if I could write an authentic teenage boy’s voice that would be compelling.  It took months to write and massive edits after my CPs got a hold of it.  I’m a little embarrassed to admit the first draft was really bad. No, really, really bad.

 

When “Emanate” was complete, and eventually accepted for submission, I felt like I’d jumped a huge hurdle. Not only had I written a short, but it was way out of my comfort zone.

 

Fast forward six months. My MS is completed and queries, partial and fulls are floating out in the marketplace. I was tired of refreshing my inbox for the thousandth time and needed something new to write.  Elephant’s Bookshelf Press had announced a summer anthology and was looking for submissions which was a perfect way to get my focus on something new.

 

I toyed with several ideas until one stuck.

 

But I hesitated.

 

A day. A week. A month.

 

Why? Because it was way out of the realm of what I usually write.

 

1) It was adult

 

2) It was sci-fi

 

3) It was 3rd Person POV

 

I tried many times to talk myself out of this story, but every time I tried to focus on something new, the premise came back to haunt me.  Begging me to be written. So one Sunday a month ago I sat down and wrote.  The characters and plot flowed onto the pages seamlessly and before I knew it “Unearthed” was born.  I did a small amount of editing before I sent it to my CPs.  They were incredibly encouraging about the writing and the premise (except for the several times when I “head-hopped” – which is something that is very difficult NOT to do in 3rd Person POV). I bow down to those of you who write in this POV. It’s really hard.

 

So you may ask what is the point of this long diatribe? It’s this – your writing gets better if you push yourself.  Writing in a different genre and POV forces you to experiment and learn.  After finishing “Unearthed”, I proved to myself I could write in something besides the YA voice and could do it from a different POV.

 

Now will I ever write an entire adult, sci-fi MS from third person POV? Probably not.  But what I proved to myself was I could stretch as a writer. Even though my idea was scary, I pushed beyond that fear to create something I was proud to submit.

 

What about you fellow writers?  Do you push yourself beyond your writing comfort zone? If so, I’d love to hear how in the comments.

 

FIRST FIVE FRENZY with Jessica Sinsheimer – Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency April 19, 2013

 

If you’re like me, you toil for hours editing and fine-tuning the first pages of your manuscript.  You look at the first lines to make sure they are compelling and tight.  You examine the next few paragraphs, hoping  your MC’s voice is already taking hold of the reader.

 

The First Five Frenzy is all about getting an agent’s perspective on what works, and what fails, in those first pages of a manuscript.  By reading each agent’s comments, I hope you’ll learn how to make your manuscript a shining gem that will be requested time and time again.

 

Today, I am proud to share Literary Agent, Jessica Sinsheimer’s perspective on what’s important in those critical first pages.

 

 

Amy: Many writers have the impression that a great first line is imperative to drawing in the reader. How important is a first line to you as an agent?

 

Jessica: It’s not the first line, necessarily, but the first few lines. It’s strange — I feel like we read for voice, initially, and that’s very hard to pin down. There was a paragraph in the first ten pages (included with a query) recently that had totally normal details layered wonderfully. The protagonist noted a steaming lasagna on the table and– again, lasagna is not so unusual — for some reason, because it was described so simply and perfectly, I wondered to myself for a week about when “the lasagna book” was coming in. (I mentioned this to the author, and I’m pretty sure she thinks I’m nuts, but that’s neither here nor there.) 🙂

 

 

Amy: Many times a writer is told to stay away from common openings like dreams, eating breakfast, riding in a car, etc. What are some common openings you recommend writers stay away from?

 

Jessica: I agree with all of these — unless you’re very sure that your writing makes them different from any other opening like this before.

 

I get a lot of “alarm clock goes off, character gets into shower” openings, and — ughh — the dialogue opening, where two characters talk about nothing for pages, and I have no idea where they are, who they are, or what they’re doing. I prefer a much higher ratio of narration to dialogue in those first few pages.

 

Also — weather. Please do not spend your first two paragraphs talking about the weather.

 

 

Amy: When you’ve responded to a writer to request a partial or full manuscript, what was it about their first pages that piqued your interest?

 

Jessica: It’s different every time, actually. Most of the time, it’s simply that I’m intrigued and want to read it — the same way we’re intrigued when reading jacket copy and the first few pages in a bookstore, or on Amazon. There’s something there that we want to explore further.

 

 

Amy: What are some common mistakes writers make in their first five pages?

 

Jessica: I’m a big believer in cutting (most) prologues — a lot of them do very little for the story, hardly advance the plot — and then, once I open chapter one, I think “Oh, gosh, finally!” There have been many times that the prologues have been so much worse than the first chapter that I’ve simply skipped ahead — and then been shocked at the difference. You’d think they’d been written by two different writers!

 

I think a lot of writers do a fair amount of general throat clearing in the first few pages. Always see what can be cut.

 

Amy: What resonates with you most in those first pages? Voice? Pacing? Unique concept?

 

Jessica: All of these are important — and a terrible version of any of these (weak, vague voice; slow or breakneck pace; concept that is too weird or too generic) can wreck an otherwise good book.

 

I know you’ll hate this answer, but it’s often intuitive, subjective, and very hard to define. It’s very important to me that I think about a book after I put it down–for all I know, I’ll get an important phone call (or a not at all important phone call) after reading two pages, and then it’s time for a meeting–and I won’t get back to the manuscript until hours or even days later. It’s important that the work sticks with me — and, often, this is the best test. Do I think about the book when I’m answering emails, or in meetings — when I’m at the gym, or on the subway? Do I want to talk about it with friends? If so, that goes a long way toward making it a book I’ll fall in love with.

 

 

Currently an associate agent with Sara Jane Freymann Literary Agency, Jessica’s interests include literary, women’s, and Young Adult fiction – works that speak to life in the 21st century. Also, pretty much anything that features food is welcome. These are her favorites but is not strict about or limited to only these genres. She’s also open to MG.

 

If you’re interested in submitting to Jessica, please make sure to check the Sarah  Jane Freymann Literary Agency website for their guidelines.

 

W.O.W. – Writer Odyssey Wednesday – Andrea Hannah April 17, 2013

andreapro

 

 

What is the one take away you’ll get from today’s W.O.W. with Andrea Hannah? Honesty.  Yes, I truly love this interview for the honest knowledge Andrea imparts about the publishing business.  When I asked her about the one piece of  writing advice she got early on, and still uses today, I was floored by her answer.  She gives it to you straight about how difficult the publishing marketplace can be.  But along with that honesty, she also imparts a “never give up” attitude – which I love.  She’s definitely right about one thing, if you’re a writer “own it” and keep working until your dream comes true.

 

Here is Andrea’s inspiring story…

 

Amy: What drew you to write YA fiction?

 

Andrea: Honestly, I never even considered writing anything else. I’d dabbled in a variety of genres over the years, but as soon as I decided to get serious I immediately knew it would be YA all the way. I’ve always gravitated toward those books. I always flick on MTV when I’m looking for something to watch. I used to teach creative writing to middle schoolers. It just seemed like the natural progression.

 

 

Amy: How many manuscripts had you completed prior to THE DIARIES OF ELLA GRAHAM?

 

Andrea: One and a half. Both were paranormal (which is why I stopped halfway through the second; I realized that reapers and angels and all that were dead on arrival). The first one took me almost a year to write and revise, and I had some success on the contest circuit before ultimately shelving it. I was in the middle of the second one when I had this crazy intense dream about ELLA. In the dream, someone whispered to me, “You’re going to write a book about two sisters, one is missing. You’re going to call it THE DIARIES OF ELLA GRAHAM.” Not even joking! I stumbled out of bed, jotted it down, and gave up on the other book mid-draft. I couldn’t shake ELLA from that moment on, and the rest is history.

 

 

Amy: Did you have critique partners or beta readers that helped you polish THE DIARIES OF ELLA GRAHAM? How did that influence your writing process?

 

Andrea: Yes! I only worked with one critique partner on ELLA. And while she’s an excellent CP, and we still work together, the difference between the “final product” on ELLA and my new thriller, THE DESTRUCTION OF STARS AND LIES, is huuuuge. Huge. I’m a really big advocate of wrangling in a bunch of CPs and betas, all with different preferences and styles. I write thrillers and dark mysteries, so I give my manuscript to friends who write in that genre, but also to friends who write romances. I like the perspective I get from both sides. To give you an example of how effective this is, when I signed with Victoria for ELLA, I went through a LOT of pretty substantial revisions with her before it was ready to go on sub. With STARS & LIES, I had two rounds with five CPs/betas before I even sent Victoria the manuscript. And I think because of that, the revisions I’m working through with her now are much quicker and definitely less painful.

 

 

Amy: Did your query for THE DIARIES OF ELLA GRAHAM come easily or did it go through many drafts?

 

Andrea: Query writing is my super-secret skill. (I’m expecting ALL the emails about this now, haha). I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but I’m pretty good at summing up my story in 3-4 paragraphs. I wrote the query for ELLA in two drafts and then it went out into the world.

 

 

Amy: How many agents did you query for THE DIARIES OF ELLA GRAHAM?

 

Andrea: A very, very small amount. Twelve, I think it was? I queried a few dream agents, and a few mid-listers, but they were all people I would have been thrilled to work with. I was just kind of testing the waters before I sent out a wider second round. But, I had a lot of success (a 70% success rate! WOOT) and my dream agent offered, so I didn’t send out anymore after that.

 

(I just want to add here that I am an anomaly. This doesn’t normally happen. Remember, all it takes is ONE yes, so if the rejections are rolling in, keep going, keep trying. You’ll get there. <3)

 

 

Amy: Did you receive instantaneous response or did you have to wait for requests/rejections?

 

Andrea: I got a couple of quick form rejections, like within a week. The requests for partials and fills came in about 3-4 weeks later. And the offers came about 3-4 weeks after that. The whole process took about two months for me, from first query sent to acceptance of offer. (Once again, I now that’s not standard. I realize how lucky I was with the whole thing.)

 

 

Amy: As many writers know the publishing business is very hard to break into. What was the one thing you did to help garner agent attention?

 

Andrea: I started to ease my way into the community as I grew more confident about my writing. While I was querying, I was also becoming active on Twitter, entering contests, and checking out forums and blogs. I will say I wasn’t exactly awesome in this aspect. I honestly felt like I didn’t have anything to offer to social media until I had an agent. (This is very, very WRONG, by the way.) So my platform building and connecting with publishing people didn’t really take off until after I’d been signed.

 

The main thing I did to garner agent attention? Queried a really polished book and followed their submission guidelines.

 

 

Amy: Can you give a short summary of “your call” with your agent Victoria Marini?

 

Andrea: My call with Victoria was pretty much the best phone call of my life! She was actually my third offer of rep, and I had been so nervous for the first two. Victoria was my dream agent, and she was the last agent with my manuscript. I was really holding out for her! As fate would have it, I was super pregnant while I was waiting and went into labor, so I didn’t have time to sweat over Victoria as much as I had been for the past week. I had my son at 12AM, and Victoria called (my hospital phone!) at 10AM to offer rep. So, I’d had a lot of morphine, you know? I can’t remember the specific details other than I was not nervous AT ALL, and I remember Victoria saying, “I LOVED THIS SO MUCH!” I’d say it was a pretty spectacular day.

 

 

Amy: What was one piece of advice you got during your early writing stages that has stuck with you to this day?

 

Andrea: Most of the technical advice I’ve been given has been really helpful, but I think what’s stuck with me most is this: “Nothing is ever a given in publishing.” And it’s so true, to the point of being painful. So many writers think that if they can just write that book that will snag an agent, their careers will take off and they’ll be “real writers.” But I’m here to tell you that the cycle never, ever ends. (I’m so sorry!) You write that book, and you get an agent. Then that book goes on submission, and sometimes it actually doesn’t sell, even though you kind of thought it was a given (I know I did.) Then you write another book, and there’s always the possibility that your agent won’t like it and won’t submit it. Then you start all over again. Or let’s say that book sells. You still have to write another one, and there’s always the very real possibility that your editor will tell you to scrap that one. It’s scary and frustrating and requires a good amount of bravery and perhaps a touch of crazy, too. But the good news is since there’s never a “level” that you can reach to become a “real writer,” you can start calling yourself one right now. Do you write? Then you’re a writer, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Blog about it, dive into the writing community, tell your friends and family about your passion. Go ahead and own your badass, wordy self.

 

 

Andrea Hannah is a YA writer represented by Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider. She writes stories about criminals, crazy people, and creatures that may or may not exist. When she’s not writing, Andrea teaches special education, runs, spends time with her family, and tries to figure out a way to prevent her pug from opening the refrigerator (still unsuccessful). Oh, and she tweets a bajillion times a day, mostly about inappropriate things.
You can find her on Twitter @: http://twitter.com/andeehannah
Drop her an email @: andeehannah@gmail.com
And visit her website @: http://www.andreahannah.com/

 

Querying Writers: Please Do Your Homework April 15, 2013

 

So you’ve written an amazing book.  Your CPs and betas have given it the “thumbs up” and you’re ready to query.

 

But wait, before you send out that first letter, have you done your homework?

 

Yeah, yeah, I know this isn’t school but still research must be done if you’re going to approach this process in a logical, and hopefully, fruitful way.

 

Here are some steps a writer should go through when they get to this point:

 

 

1) Go to a reputable website that lists all current literary agents. Querytracker is great and so is AgentQuery. If you’re a member of SCBWI (or another writing association) check their catalog of agents. Writer’s Digest also prints a yearly guide you can purchase if you’re in desperate need of a hard copy.

 

 

2) If you go to one of the aforementioned websites spend some time finding out which agents rep. your genre. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.  It’s a waste of your time (and the agent’s) if you send them something they don’t represent.

 

 

3) Once you build your prospective list, do MORE research.  Check out what the agents’ response times are.  What are their current sales? Most of this information can be found on both sites mentioned above and at Publishers Marketplace (basic info is free/detailed info requires a monthly membership fee). You will also want to go to the agency’s website to verify info.  Sometimes submission guidelines, and what may be on an agent’s “wishlist”, changes.

 

 

4) If you have specific agents you’re looking at make sure you’re checking them out on places like Preditors and Editors and in the forums at AbsoluteWrite. Many people can hang out a shingle and claim to be a literary agent, but you don’t want to get a nibble and be excited over an agent who may not be reputable. Remember too, reputable agents can be found everywhere: Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Portland, Toronto, London.  New York City is NOT the only place a reputable agent works.

 

 

5) I mentioned it above…but I’ll mention it again: CHECK SUBMISSION GUIDELINES. Some larger agencies (like Writers House) have many agents and each one may have a specific way they prefer to receive queries.  One may want just a query, while another may want a query, synopsis and the first chapter. Also, make sure you check their query rules. Sometimes you are only allowed to query one agent within that group.  In most cases, a “no” from one agent is a “no” from the entire group.

 

 

6) Take a deep breath and get querying!  And don’t forget to be proud of what you’ve accomplished. Completing a novel, short story, or non-fiction piece is an amazing feat!

 

 

 
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