chasingthecrazies

Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…

“Behind The Scenes” of a W.O.W. with Dahlia Adler June 25, 2014

 

When I first started my W.O.W. series in 2012 one of the first people who agreed to, and was very supportive of, the series was Dahlia Adler. But I’ll admit something to you all, I was terrified to reach out to her. Looking back now I laugh because Dahlia is the kindest and sweetest person, but I was afraid to approach her because she knew SO MUCH about publishing and I knew VERY LITTLE. Would she think I was some sort of newbie goof trying to pass myself off as a real blogger when I sent my request? Would she respond at all? If you know Dahlia, then you know my worries were completely unfounded. She was incredibly kind and very generous in offering up the story behind her writing odyssey.

 

Now, with the release of her book, BEHIND THE SCENES, I thought it would be fun to share her W.O.W. again. I hope it inspires you as much as it did me!

 

 

WOW

 

 

Social media is a crazy thing.  It let’s us promote our work to others.  It allows us to learn about images and ideas worlds away. But one of the most amazing things about Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is the ability to connect with like-minded people who share the same goals, ideas and dreams, especially when it comes to writing.

 

I first connected with today’s featured author, Dahlia Adler, via Twitter.  I loved her honest advice about writing and publishing, but also her keen insight into what it takes to perfect your craft.  If you haven’t read her blog already, The Daily Dahlia, you should.  She is always sharing tips on how to improve your work and  providing valuable information on the publishing world.  Just recently she posted a gem about what life is like after getting an agent. It’s a great and eye-opening read.

 

Many thanks to Dahlia for sharing her writing journey…

 

 

Amy: I know you’re a freelance editor, reading several manuscripts a week. How do you make time to write?

 

Dahlia: With great difficulty! Honestly, it’s a huge challenge, especially on top of having a full-time job, but I respond really well to goals and deadlines and that helps me a lot in terms of prioritizing and forcing myself to get things done. Also, my husband gets a huge shout-out here for being wonderfully supportive. There are days he gets me for maybe an hour at dinner and then I disappear into my office and he is never anything short of wonderful about it.

 

 

Amy: What drew you to write YA fiction?

 

Dahlia: I’m the youngest by a considerable gap so I started reading YA from an extremely young age because that’s what was around. I grew up with a somewhat unusual background, being Modern Orthodox Jewish and attending yeshiva for elementary and high school, so for me, it was a fascinating insight into the world at large that I never really felt a part of but loved watching on TV. Then I realized I could insert myself into that world in a way by writing. I was about eight years old when I started writing YA, and I’ve never looked back.

 

 

Amy: How many completed manuscripts did you query before one garnered interest?

 

Dahlia: I queried two manuscripts before the one that got me my agent. Both actually got a lot of requests but ultimately both now live solely on my hard drive.

 

 

Amy: If one manuscript was continuing to get rejected, how did you know it was time to move on to a new project?

 

Dahlia: I stopped querying my first one fairly quickly, because it was set in college and those were almost impossible to sell at the time. When you’re getting rejections that aren’t so much about the content of your manuscript but about the fact that they don’t fit into the market, it’s a pretty good clue that it’s just not the right time. I queried the other one for a lot longer, but some of the critique I got from agents on the full made me realize that it needed an overhaul I wasn’t quite sure how to do yet. Honestly, I’m still not, though I’d love to figure it out so I can revive it one day. I love that manuscript, deep flaws and all!

 

 

Amy: From reading your blog, I know you have a great circle of critique partners. How do they affect your writing process?

 

Dahlia: The wonderfulness of my critique partners cannot be overstated. They’re amazing about letting me talk things out and use them as a sounding board, and just at giving critique in general. They make my books better, period, and their wide variety of knowledge is super helpful, especially when it comes to those “normal” things I didn’t experience, like what high school football games are actually supposed to look like!

 

 

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

 

Dahlia: My query for BEHIND THE SCENES came incredibly easy to me, which has never, ever been the case for me with any other query letter. I wrote it before I wrote the actual book. After realizing how much trouble I was having with my previous manuscript being so character driven, I really wanted to write something with a strong, linear plot driving the manuscript forward, and BTS was my brain’s response to that desire. I wrote a really early draft on Evernote on my phone, long before I ever planned to start writing the manuscript itself, and then one night I was struck by the entire text of it while lying in bed. I got up, took my husband’s iPad, wrote it in an e-mail to myself, and went back to bed. Voila. It changed slightly during The Writer’s Voice contest thanks to critique from my team, but very, very slightly.

 

 

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

 

Dahlia: I actually only queried five agents for BEHIND THE SCENES, because its first entry into the world was in The Writer’s Voice contest, and that’s where my agent found it and requested on it, so it had an offer in its first two weeks. I got form rejections from two agents really, really quickly, and then two of the other three – plus one who had a full of my previous ms, and one who’d also requested from The Writer’s Voice – responded to my “I have an offer” nudge within the week, so all in all it was a very fast process.

 

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

 

Dahlia: I’ve always, always loved writing, and to me, the act of writing and the dream of getting published are very separate things. Are there times I think I’ll never sell? Yes, definitely. But selling isn’t why I write, so not selling will never be why I don’t!

 

 

 

Behindthescenes

 

 

 

High school senior Ally Duncan’s best friend may be the Vanessa Park – star of TV’s hottest new teen drama – but Ally’s not interested in following in her BFF’s Hollywood footsteps. In fact, the only thing Ally’s ever really wanted is to go to Columbia and study abroad in Paris. But when her father’s mounting medical bills threaten to stop her dream in its tracks, Ally nabs a position as Van’s on-set assistant to get the cash she needs.

 

Spending the extra time with Van turns out to be fun, and getting to know her sexy co-star Liam is an added bonus. But when the actors’ publicist arranges for Van and Liam to “date” for the tabloids just after he and Ally share their first kiss, Ally will have to decide exactly what role she’s capable of playing in their world of make believe. If she can’t play by Hollywood’s rules, she may lose her best friend, her dream future, and her first shot at love.

 

 

BEHIND THE SCENES is now available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble & Indiebound.

 

 

dahliaDahlia Adler is an Assistant Editor of Mathematics at an academic publisher, Copy Editor, and blogger @BNBuzz and YA Misfits. She is represented by Lana Popovic. You can find her on Twitter as @MissDahlELama and on her blog, The Daily Dahlia. It’s not really daily but it’s definitely her!

 

 

QUERY 101 SERIES: NUDGING ETIQUETTE June 20, 2014

Query 101B

 

The entire query process is about waiting. First you send the query and then you wait. And wait. And wait. If you get a request, you send your material and wait again. It’s all about patience and well, honestly, keeping yourself distracted so you don’t go crazy.

 

But what if you’ve been waiting longer than usual? Now I’m not talking 3-4 weeks. Most agencies quote on their websites they need at least 6-8 weeks to read queries and/or requested materials. Some require more. Make sure you check the agency’s website before sending that nudge.

 

Yet if you’ve been waiting beyond the specified time, there are certain procedures you should follow in order to follow-up with the requesting agent. First, above all, act professional. Send them an email (preferably within the email request chain) and confirm they have received your materials. Then politely inquire as to when you can expect a reply.

 

I’ve been in this situation before and have had success with nudging. In almost every email I sent to an agent, I received a reply within at least a week. So how do you word such an email? I used the following format which came from agent, Bree Ogden in a great post she did for Lit Reactor:

 

 

Dear [Agent],

I’m writing to check on the status of my manuscript [title] sent to you on [date]. I understand you are very busy; I just wanted to make sure it arrived safely in your inbox. Thank you again for your interest in my work. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best,

[Name]

 

 

Simple and to the point. You don’t need to go into great detail about your manuscript, but you do need to be straightforward about what information you are requesting from the agent.

 

Let’s be clear here: this is in regards to requested materials. DO NOT nudge on a query. The only reason you should follow-up on a query is if the agency has a reply policy.  If they state they will respond to ALL received queries, and you haven’t heard back, then it is okay to resend the query. BUT that is only in the case where the agency has SPECIFICALLY stated this policy on their submission page.

 

What if you don’t hear back right away from the nudge? I’d recommend giving the agent at least two weeks to reply. If you don’t hear anything, I’d send one more nudge. After that, unfortunately if it’s radio silence, I would assume the agent is passing.

 

The key here again is to stay professional. Many agents are not only juggling clients and conference obligations, but submissions to editors, as well as reading NUMEROUS manuscripts (not only from you but other aspiring writers). It’s hard to wait, believe me I understand, but publishing is all about waiting and PATIENCE (tons of patience). Hang in there, work on something new and cross your fingers that your email soon “dings” with great news!

 

 

Next up in the QUERY 101 series: A special guest post by agent, Pooja Menon, on handling “The Call.”

 

 

W.O.W. – Writer Odyssey Wednesday with Emery Lord June 18, 2014

WOW

 

 

One of the things I love about today’s W.O.W. with Emery Lord are her comments about taking your time when researching agents. Many times writers discover an agent who reps books in their category and send out a query right away without taking time to consider whether or not that agent would be a good fit for them.  As Emery points out, she “did research and looked for agents who had gaps in their list where she may fit in.” Emery’s success is a perfect example of taking your time and considering who you want to work with. By doing your homework, hopefully your ending will be as extraordinary as hers!

 

Many thanks to Emery for sharing her writing journey today…

 

 

Amy: When did you first begin seriously writing with the intent of wanting to be published?

 

Emery: 2010. I started writing contemporary YA a bit in 2009 but got serious the next year. Publication wasn’t on my mind at first. I just really loved writing. I wanted to hone my craft and finish a whole book. It wasn’t until after I finished a draft and dug into revisions that I started to think I could do something with it.

 

 

Amy: When did you complete your first Young Adult manuscript?

 

Emery: Early 2011

 

 

Amy: I devoured OPEN ROAD SUMMER! I was really struck by, and loved, the song lyrics. Are you a songwriter by trade?

 

Emery: Thank you so much! I’m definitely not a songwriter! I forced myself to try songwriting, a little bit, for Open Road Summer. I play the piano, and I made myself come up with chords and write each song out, so the lyrics would ring true. It was awkward and I laughed at myself a lot, but I felt like it helped inform Matt and Dee as characters and as individual writers themselves.

 

 

Amy: Did you have critique partners or beta readers that helped you polish OPEN ROAD SUMMER?  If so, how critical were they to the process of completing the manuscript?

 

Emery: I have a critique partner (the brilliant Bethany Robison) who works with me on everything I write (and vice versa). She knows my strengths and calls me out if I’m not using them. She also knows my weaknesses and won’t let me get away with them. So, um, very critical? Haha! But none of that ever *feels* critical. Because Bethy is on my team, you know? She’s my pal and the godmother of my characters–and there is a huge level of trust on both sides. She pushes me toward my best work, and I’m a better writer because of it.

 

 

Amy: How laborious/frustrating was the query process for you?

 

Emery: Truthfully, the query process *after* clicking send was quick and straightforward. But I researched for months beforehand while revising, and that was definitely laborious.

 

 

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

 

Emery: I guess just knowing my audience? Any time I needed a break from revising my ms, I’d pop over to and read about various agents…their tastes, what they rep, current client lists, etc. I was particularly looking for gaps between what they said they were interested in and what their clients were writing. (They said they love contemporary YA but apparently only have 1 client writing it/seems quite different than my style, that suggested maybe they had room for my ms on their list? That kind of thing.)

 

 

Amy: What was your call like with your agent, Taylor Martindale?  How did you know she was the right fit for you?

 

Emery: Many reasons but the one that still really sealed it: contemporary YA was NOT doing well in early 2011, and I knew it. (We were coming down from paranormal; dystopian was booming.) Taylor knew it too. But she wanted my book anyway–not because it would be an easy sell for her but because she wanted that story on shelves for readers. In that first conversation, she just had such passion in her voice, insisting that contemporary YA with quiet character moments belonged in the market and that she wanted to advocate for books like that, books like mine. I just sat there, listening, thinking: holy crap, she has this fire…she’s going to fight like heck for this story. And she did! She’s a champion for character-driven novels, diversity and positivity–exactly as I knew her to be in that first call.

 

 

Amy: If you were giving a keynote speech at a writer’s conference, what would be the most important piece of advice you would share?

 

Emery: Write at the intersection of an interesting story and what matters to your very soul. Yes, writing to entertain is important. But writing something entertaining that has your passion surrounding it like a force field? That’s everything. That’s your trademark, your fingerprints on this planet pressed into the book pages. What matters to you will keep you at your desk late at night. It’ll keep you typing even when reviews burn or don’t even make sense. When what is feeding your story is something greater than YOU, it gives you fight. So write around what you BELIEVE in or the questions you wrestle with or the parts that hurt–but make sure it matters to you in the deepest vessel of your heart, so much it almost hurts sometimes.

 

 

 

 

Open Road

 

 

 

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking.

 

 

 

emerylord
Emery Lord lives in Ohio with a husband, two rescue dogs and a closet full of impractical shoes. Open Road Summer is her first novel.

 


 

First Five Frenzy with Carrie Howland of Donadio & Olson, Inc. June 13, 2014

FFF SideWords

 

 

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, Carrie Howland’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?

 

Carrie: A first line, like any first impression, is always important. It shows that you, as a writer, are coming out swinging. The problem comes when you focus so much on the first line, that you forget about the rest of the page, chapter, book. I don’t think a writer should ever focus so much on any one thing that he or she forgets about the work as a whole. A great first line draws the reader in, but great second, third, and forth lines are what keep them reading.

 

 

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?

 

Carrie: I don’t like to say that there is any one thing to stay away from, because done right, even something as common or mundane as eating breakfast can be really powerful. I think, instead, it’s important to focus on why you’re including that scene and how you’re writing it. Does eating breakfast best serve your manuscript? Is the scene really working, both style and plot-wise? If yes, then keep going. Make sure you’re writing the most original breakfast-eating scene imaginable. If, instead, you’re using the breakfast scene as a crutch, because you’ve seen it done before, or because it’s easy, then it’s not best serving the manuscript and you, as the writer, need to push yourself beyond your comfort zone, beyond the breakfast table, to write something truly original.

 

 

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?

 

Carrie: A strong voice and great writing. My background is in poetry, so there’s nothing I love more than a beautiful, well-written line. Those are the first things I notice. They show themselves before plot or character development. Before concept, really. Good writing is what takes me to the next page and then the next. It’s what compels me to ask for the full manuscript. That said, I do love a good, high-concept idea. While my taste tends to skew literary, I still love a good story. And if your work is high-concept and well-written, expect a request for more!

 

 

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

 

Carrie: Not staying true to your own voice and work. I often read things that feel derivative. Perhaps someone has read too many books like theirs that have influenced them. Perhaps they’re trying so hard to write in one genre, that they’re not allowing the work to breathe and expand, to be what it could and should be. I think it’s important to let your work evolve as you write, to go with the direction the words take you. If you start out intending to write adult literary fiction, but find you’re writing a beautiful young adult story, go with it. Don’t pigeonhole yourself. I also caution against allowing too many people to read your work, and revising based on all their ideas. It becomes too much. I can always tell early on when a writer has had input from ten other people, because the seams show. The manuscript becomes a Frankenstein’s Monster version of itself. Again, stay true to your work. Taking advice from too many different people will cause your manuscript to become a bit of a mess, and it will be obvious to anyone reading it that it’s been overworked. Not only is this a problem for the manuscript itself, but it makes me question the writer’s faith in his or her own talents. Believe in yourself as a writer, and it will show in your work.

 

 

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

 

Carrie: Voice has always been of the utmost importance to me. It’s the thing I look for in any manuscript, across any genre. If your voice is strong, unique, quirky, I’m interested. That voice will sustain me throughout the manuscript. It’s also something I can’t teach or fix. A manuscript either has it, or it doesn’t. Whereas things like plot issues and pacing problems can be edited, a strong voice needs to come from the writer and needs to be present from the beginning. I’ve taken on several projects with plot issues, because the voice was so strong, I couldn’t turn away from the project. Those voices stay with me long after I put the pages down.

 

 

Carrie Howland is a literary agent at Donadio & Olson, Inc., where she represents literary fiction, narrative non-fiction, young adult, and middle grade authors. In addition to her own clients, she handles foreign, first serial, and audio rights for the agency. Carrie is a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives and writes for its newsletter. She also enjoys speaking at various writing conferences throughout the year. Carrie holds a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Albion College, where she was the Poetry Editor of The Albion Review. Her poetry has appeared in various literary journals and magazines. In her spare time, Carrie volunteers as a foster for a local dog rescue. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. You can follow her on twitter at @ecarriehowland or learn more about Donadio & Olson at www.donadio.com.

 

If you’re interested in submitting to Carrie, please make sure to check the Donadio & Olson website for their guidelines.

 

 

 

 

 

READER APPRECIATION GIVEAWAY!!! June 11, 2014

Filed under: Blog,Publishing,writing — chasingthecrazies @ 3:53 pm
Tags: , , ,

 

 

 

This week has been so AMAZING and it is only Wednesday. First, I found out I won the YA Highway Web Award for best blog by an Aspiring YA Author. Then yesterday, this blog went over 100,000 views and I may have done this…

 

 

 

Jimmy Fallon

 

 

 

Wow! Just WOW! I would have never imagined after starting this blog just a little over 2 1/2 years ago that ANYONE would ever want to read it. I am completely humbled not only by the honor from YA Highway, but that so many of you would take the time out of your busy lives to read anything I have to say. I wish I could reach through the internet and hug each and every one of you! Unfortunately, I can’t do that so I want to do the next best thing and give away a bunch of books (and a t-shirt) from one of my favorite authors, Mr. John Green!

 

 

 

readergiveaway

 

 

 GIVEAWAY IS NOW OVER. WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED VIA TWITTER ON SATURDAY, JUNE 14.

 

 

Package includes:

 

Looking for Alaska

An Abundance of Katherines

Paper Towns

The Fault in Our Stars (movie tie-in edition)

Plus… A TFIOS t-shirt (size: XL)

 

Here is how you can enter:

 

1) Comment below and tell me what was your favorite post or interview from the last two years and why. Please include contact info – either an email addy or your Twitter handle.

 

2) Bonus entry if you tweet about the giveaway and tag me in the mention (@atrueblood5).

 

 

Rules:

 

– Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only (sorry but postage to destinations outside the U.S. is killer).

– You must be a follower of my blog (I don’t usually do this but it is reader recognition after all!)

– Entry deadline is Friday, June 13 at 5pm EST.

 

 

Again, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for being so kind to me over these past years. I love doing this blog and sharing all the interviews, series info, and guest posts. Here’s to MANY more years!

 

 

 

xoxo,

Amy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COVER REVEAL: CATCH ME WHEN I FALL by Vicki Leigh June 9, 2014

Cover Reveal Banner - Vicki

 

 

 

It’s cover reveal day for Vicki Leigh’s CATCH ME WHEN I FALL! Lots of awesome stuff going on, including a giveaway! But first, here’s a special message from Vicki:

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here’s what CATCH ME WHEN I FALL is all about (and the beautiful cover!!!):

 

 

 

WHEN I FALL_cover

 

 

 

Recruited at his death to be a Protector of the Night, seventeen-year-old Daniel Graham has spent two-hundred years fighting Nightmares and guarding humans from the clawed, red-eyed creatures that feed off people’s fears. Each night, he risks his eternal life, having given up his chance at an afterlife when he chose to become a Protector. That doesn’t stop a burnt-out Daniel from risking daring maneuvers during each battle. He’s become one of the best, but he wants nothing more than to stop. Then he’s given an assignment to watch over sixteen-year-old Kayla Bartlett, a clinically depressed patient in a psychiatric ward. Nightmares love a human with a tortured past. Yet, when they take a deep interest in her, appearing in unprecedented numbers, the job becomes more dangerous than any Daniel’s ever experienced. He fights ruthlessly to keep the Nightmares from overwhelming his team and Kayla. Soon, Daniel finds himself watching over Kayla during the day, drawn to why she’s different, and what it is about her that attracts the Nightmares. And him. A vicious attack on Kayla forces Daniel to break the first Law and reveal his identity. Driven by his growing feelings for her, he whisks her away to Rome where others like him can keep her safe. Under their roof, the Protectors discover what Kayla is and why someone who can manipulate Nightmares has her in his sights. But before they can make a move, the Protectors are betrayed and Kayla is kidnapped. Daniel will stop at nothing to save her. Even if it means giving up his immortality.

 

 

CATCH ME WHEN I FALL will be available on October 23, 2014 in both paperback and e-book formats from Curiosity Quills Press. For more information, visit the book’s Goodreads page.

 

 

 

Now, there can’t be a cover reveal without a giveaway, right? Lots of authors stopped by and donated some fantastic books to help Vicki celebrate. You don’t want to miss out on these! Here’s what you can win:

 

 

 

  • An e-copy of CATCH ME WHEN I FALL by Vicki Leigh
  • A submission package critique (query+synopsis+first chap) from Vicki Leigh
  • An e-copy of HEIRS OF WAR by Mara Valderran
  • Two query+first chapter critiques from YA author Emily Stanford
  • A full manuscript critique from YA author Emily Stanford
  • An e-copy of WITHOUT BLOODSHED by Matthew Graybosch
  • A paperback of DESTRUCTION by Sharon Bayliss
  • An e-copy of KIYA: HOPE OF THE PHARAOH by Katie Teller
  • One query+first chapter critique from YA author Katie Teller
  • An e-copy of DARKNESS WATCHING by Emma Adams
  • A copy of DESCENDANT by Nichole Giles
  • Two signed copies of DIVIDE by Jessa Russo
  • An e-copy set of EVER and EVADE by Jessa Russo
  • A copy of UNHINGED by A.G. Howard

 

 

 

To enter go to www.vleighwrites.blogspot.com! All prizes will be accompanied by a Dreamcatcher swag package from Vicki.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

About Vicki:

 

 

 

Vicki Leigh_Author Portrait copy

 

 

Adopted at three-days-old by a construction worker and a stay-at-home mom, Vicki Leigh grew up in a small suburb of Akron, Ohio where she learned to read by the age of four and considered being sent to her room for punishment as an opportunity to dive into another book. By the sixth grade, Vicki penned her first, full-length screenplay. If she couldn’t be a writer, Vicki would be a Hunter (think Dean and Sam Winchester) or a Jedi. Her favorite place on earth is Hogwarts (she refuses to believe it doesn’t exist), and her favorite dreams include solving cases alongside Sherlock Holmes.

 

 

Vicki is an editor for Curiosity Quills Press, a co-founder of The Writer Diaries, and is represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency.

 

 

You can find Vicki at her website and blog and on TwitterFacebookPinterestGoogle+YouTube, and Goodreads.

 

Query 101 Series: Handling Requests & Manuscript Formatting June 6, 2014

Query 101B

 

 

Being in the query trenches can sometimes be a long and tedious process. You write those letters, press “send” and then wait, jumping every time your email alert goes off. Yes, in this case patience can be a virtue (albeit a painful one). But then that day comes, you see, or hear, you have something in your inbox and there it is: A REQUEST!! Give yourself a minute to revel in it – enjoy it! After that, it’s time to focus on your next steps.

 

In most cases, the requesting agent will give you specific directions on how to submit. I can’t stress this enough – FOLLOW DIRECTIONS. If they ask you to make your query the first page, DO IT! If they ask for the first 50 pages, be honest and send 50 pages (not 75 or 100). Most agents say it’s okay to go over a little to get to the end of a scene or  chapter, but don’t push the limit.

 

 

Sending your request:

 

 

– Be sure your manuscript is formatted correctly (see details below)

 

– Send as soon as possible. If the agent is requesting your manuscript, it’s still fresh in his/her mind. You want to capitalize on this!

 

– Reply within the email chain. This way the agent has a frame of reference for your work. If it’s a request from a contest or conference, make sure you write in the subject line: REQUESTED MATERIALS (with some reference point i.e. from XX contest or XX conference).

 

 

 

Now with requests several issues may come up:

 

 

 

1) You’re in the middle of more revisions, or you’ve gotten specific feedback from a contest or agent that you’d like to make.

 

Many agent interviews I’ve read recommend making the changes and then sending. It’s okay to send a short note to the agent acknowledging their request and letting them know you are making changes.

 

 

2) You already have an offer.

 

Let the agent know right away. Give them a chance to either bow out or offer to read within an allotted time (some recommend one to two weeks based on the conversation you’ve already had with offering agent).

 

 

 

If this is the first time you’ve gotten a request, again be sure to follow the directions dictated by the agent. They may have specific ways they want you to format your manuscript. If they don’t, and you have questions about how to indicate scene breaks, or what font to use, I recommend using the outline below from The Editor’s Blog:

 

 

  • Twelve point, Times New Roman (or Courier New, if you insist), black font

 

  • One-inch margins on all four sides

 

  • Half-inch paragraph indentations (five spaces) (this tab is pre-set in MS Word) for the first line of each paragraph

 

  • Double space; no extra spaces between paragraphs

 

  • Align left (not justified). The right edges will not be uniform or even

 

  • Number pages beginning with the actual story (don’t count or put page numbers on the title page)

 

  • Indicate scene breaks by inserting a blank line and centering the number sign # in the center of the line

 

  • Include your last name, your title (or keywords from the title), and the page number in the page header of every page except for the title page. Align the header to the right, so the information doesn’t interfere with the text of the manuscript. (Jones/Taming the Monster/1)

 

  • Begin chapters on new pages (insert a page break). Center the chapter title, even if it’s only Chapter One (or Chapter 1), about 1/3 of the way down the page. Skip a couple of spaces and begin the text of the chapter.

 

  • Center a number sign # one double-spaced blank line down at the end of the manuscript. Or simply write The End. You want agents and editors to know they’ve reached the end.

 

  • Use italics for italicized words. (Former practice was to underline to show italicized words, but that’s no longer necessary unless an agent or publisher requests underlining.)

 

  • Single space rather than two spaces after periods between sentences. If you forget this one, nobody’s going to turn down your manuscript because of it. It’s just a good habit to get into, especially for those of us who learned on typewriters and always added two spaces between sentences.

 

 

Include a title page

 

 

  • Aligned left and single spaced, near the top of the page, include contact information: Your real/legal name, address, phone number, e-mail address. Follow with the word count. Alternatively, you can set word count apart by listing it at the top of the right side of the title page.

 

  • About 1/2 the way down the page, centered, enter the full manuscript title (all caps or mixed caps); on the next double-spaced line, type by or a novel by or a story by; on the next double-spaced line, add your pen name or your real name plus your pen name—Alexis Chesterfield writing as Billie Thomas.

 

  • Header information is not included on the title page. The title page is not included in page numbering.

 

 

Again, it is very important to make sure you follow specific formatting guidelines for two reasons:

 

First, you want to present yourself as being professional. A manuscript that is not formatted correctly can look sloppy, plus it shows you haven’t done your research.

 

Second, there are specific reasons the agent may have gone out of their way to give you directions. Perhaps they want to read your manuscript on an e-reader, and only by following their directive can they do this.

 

Overall, remember to celebrate this victory. You’ve worked tirelessly to write a great manuscript and an equally compelling query. A request is a great accomplishment, and you need to approach it with the same focus you would any other major project in your life.

 

 

 

 
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