Tag Archive: query letter


The Writer’s Waiting Game

Query letters have been sent. Competition entries have been submitted. Drafts have gone off to beta readers. In the age of instant gratification, waiting for a response in the writing world is a grueling endeavor. Weeks and months are a long time to wait when you’re dying to know whether your work is good enough to get picked up by a publisher. Or at the very least, whether somebody like it well enough to say, “good job.”

In the case of waiting for a literary agent to respond to a query letter, I go in with the assumption that nothing but silence with follow my inquiry. When a kindly worded rejection shows up in my inbox, I’m thrilled. Positive thinking is a powerful thing on this journey. So is keeping busy. The wait for any sort of a response is agonizing and it never seems to end. You’ll go nuts unless you keep yourself occupied with something other than obsessing over that elusive response.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve perfected the art of waiting with distraction. Trust me, keeping yourself busy makes the process a lot easier to take and in many ways softens the blow of rejection. Here’s a few ways to keep your muse inspired and give your patience a boost…

1) Keep writing.

Start that next novel or punch out a few short stories. Maybe even dabble in poetry or non-fiction articles.  Follow your muse and write because you are a writer, regardless of your publication credits, (or lack thereof). Sometimes a “distraction” piece can turn into something great. My second novel began as a distraction and ended up as my passion project. It got me through a number of rejections and ultimately lead me to a new path.

2) Research literary agents.

Finding the right agent takes a lot of work. It takes research, research, and more research. Every agent has different tastes, query package requirements, and personalities. For those of us playing the waiting game, all the work and time required to find the right agent plays right into our hands. It takes a lot of time to compile a list of possible agents and prepare customized query packages. Luckily, time is something we have in plentiful supply!

3) Read.

Every writer I know is also a voracious reader. Between loving a good book and wanting to figure out how published authors crafted a great story, writers are inherently addicted to reading. While waiting for any sort of response to arrive, it’s nice to escape to another world and enjoy the ride. Plus, some authors thank their agents on the acknowledgments page. This ties in nicely to #2.

4) Edit.

Most writers are never happy with a “final” draft. We’re always looking to make a sentence better or find a more perfect word. My final draft for The Muse has been altered (albeit slightly) multiple times since I started pitching it. A word here, a comma there, I’m always tinkering with it to make everything about it a little bit better. It’s time consuming and tedious work, but well worth every hour. While waiting for that one e-mail to arrive, I am happily ensconced in my fantasy world.

5) Find a hobby.

My craft closet has more stuff in it than my clothes closet.  When an afternoon of writing is done, I’ll pull out a craft project to keep my hands busy and my mind occupied. It beats sitting around and thinking about why an agent hasn’t sent an excited request to read my manuscript. Of late, knitting has been my savior as it inspires my creativity and challenges me to try new things. My muse loves it, too. While I’m knitting row after row, she whispers to me and new stories are born.

This weekend, I sent off my entry to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, which means a new round of waiting and waiting has commenced. I suspect my to-read stack of books will get shorter and the sweater I’m knitting will soon have sleeves.

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c.b.w. 2014

2014 Goals: January Status Report

January was a rather quiet month on the writing front, but a few surprises still landed on my doorstep in terms of my goals for this year.

1. Pitch The Muse.

Four months after sending my first batch of query letters, another actual rejection letter arrived in my inbox. I was pretty excited to receive it as any response is better than dead silence. Despite rejecting The Muse, the letter was actually quite positive.  My novel was rejected simply because it wasn’t the right fit for the agency.  Even better, the last line of the letter told me to keep trying. Don’t worry, I will!

2. Outline and start writing The Muse: Lineage.

At the moment, my day job is taking up most of my time. Instead of outlining, I am planning lessons for AP Art History.  If anything, researching different styles of art is going to help me as my main character Ian has a hand in inspiring some famous artwork. I may not be able to outline at the moment, but I’ll be thinking of Ian as I head into planning a unit on Impressionism.

3. Submit writing.

My last submission was my chapbook entry to the Writer’s Digest November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge. No word yet on who won.

4. Continue to build author platform.

I have a feeling my playtime on Pinterest is contributing to my Twitter feed more than anything else, but I can learn to live with that! Over on Facebook, I haven’t been around as much as I’d like. It’s blocked at work, so that makes it hard to post! Regardless, both have grown this month in terms of followers:

Facebook Likes grew from 350 to 357

Twitter followers grew from 542 to 544

Thank you so much for the follows and the likes!

5. Inspire others.

As always, I hope I am a positive presence!

Let’s not forget the sixth “invisible” goal:

6. Be Flexible.

Keeping an open mind has already paid off. This month I was contacted by an author who wants to use two of my photographs in her book. Not only am I honored to have my photographs featured, but it feels great to have my work acknowledged with a photo credit.  As soon as I have more information about when the book is being released, I’ll be sure to pass it along.

I wonder what February will bring . . .

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c.b.w. 2014

Let The Query Games Begin!

Now that the final draft of my novel is complete, it’s time to start pitching! This is no easy task as finding the right agent is a lot like trying to buy the perfect pair of jeans – there is only one that will fit perfectly.

Over the last few months, I’ve compiled a list of possible agencies and agents that might be interested in representing my work. Even with a small list, there is a lot to keep track of in terms of submission requirements and information about specific agents. To stay organized, I created a spreadsheet that lists everything I need to remember before, during, and after my query letter is out of the gate.

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The first column is pretty basic with the agency name, but I get a little more detailed in the second column. This is where I list a specific agent within the agency along with a contact e-mail. In addition, I included quoted material from his or her profile that reminds me why I think he or she might be interested in my novel. I figure I can use this information to personalize my query letter to that particular agent.

The third column includes submission data such as requirements specific to the agent/agency and any actions I have taken. Not only does this save me the time of having to constantly revisit agency websites, but it ensures I avoid making the monumental mistake of sending my query letter more than once to the same agent.

The last column is where I record my current status with a given agent/agency. I suspect I’ll be adding the word “rejected” throughout this column, but the optimist in me knows I only need one box to read “full manuscript request.”

My system might be tad over-organized, but that’s how I roll. Once things start happening, I’m sure I’ll add a color-coding component in the Status column!

Luck has a lot to do with landing an agent, but a little organization can’t hurt, either!

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How do you stay organized in your writing life?

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c.b.w. 2013

2013 Goals: August Status Report

August turned out to be a pretty amazing month in terms of my writing goals!

1) Complete final draft of Novel #2.

Done!

I downloaded the final draft to my Kindle Fire to do another quick read through. Furthermore, another beta reader has the most recent draft.  So far, the response has been very positive. Yay!

2) Work on converting Novel #1 into first person.

Still on the shelf (and that’s okay).

3) Submit 5 pieces of writing.

This goal is still technically on the shelf, however, my muse is still going crazy with poetry. I am writing A LOT of lines! Some are good and some are bad, but I’m finding the journey interesting. I’ve noticed my voice is changing as I explore different themes.

4) Submit three query letters for Novel #2

Thanks to WriteOnCon, I found the courage to Twitter pitch my book, (see WriteOnCon Rocked!) The experience was nerve-wracking and terrifying, but the end result made me realize its better to do something scary than nothing at all.

I got the attention of an editor and received a request for a query letter. I’ve since sent my query and now I’m in the waiting stage. It will probably be a while before I hear anything back, but whether anything happens is beside the point. I’m proud of myself for finding the courage to put my book out there. Better yet, I can say I’m one query down on my three query goal!

The WriteOnCon experience has given me the confidence to push even further. Between posting my query letter in the critique forums (where I got great advice and positive responses for my story concept) and learning about how to navigate the YA publishing industry, I feel a little more prepared to pitch my book.

I’ve already got a list of five agents that will be receiving query letters from me in the near future. All I’ve got to do now is finish that darn synopsis!

5) Continue building author platform

I redact everything I said about Twitter last month. Ever since going back to work, I’ve been spending more time scrolling through my Twitter feed. As a result, I’m discovering more connections and have a new appreciation for the platform.  I’m sure finding success via a Twitter pitch had nothing to do with my new attitude, (hee hee).

My Facebook Page has grown from  322 to 330

On Twitter, my followers have grown from 531 to 541

Thanks so much to all my followers on social networks and on this blog. Your support and encouragement means so much!

6)  Read three books on the writing/publishing process.

Maisie Dobbs continues to be my main source of reading pleasure. The last two books arrived this weekend and I will be reading them before I jump back into this goal!

7) Inspire others to keep writing.

As always, I can only hope I am a positive presence!

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How are you doing on your 2013 goals?

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c.b.w. 2013

WriteOnCon Rocked!

WriteOnCon may have only lasted two days, but it’s taken me almost a week to process everything that took place during this incredible online writer’s conference. Between live events, critique forums, essays by industry insiders, Q & A sessions, and discussions I feel like I got a crash course in the world of publishing!

A week before the conference officially began, I posted my query letter on the Young Adult Query Critique forum. As many of my readers know, I’ve been working diligently on my query letter for months, so it was a big step to release it into the wild. Overall, the response was pretty good. Readers commented on the layout, but I expected that because I opted for a less traditional query format. Much to my relief, the synopsis and story idea both received positive responses. Overall, the advice I received  was very helpful and I think I made some good changes. Many thanks to those who took the time to read through my letter and offer suggestions.

Aside from multiple learning moments, I walked away from WriteOnCon with a little victory. On the first day, I participated in a live Twitter pitch event. Two editors from Spencer Hill Press were on hand to consider pitches of 140 characters or less. Not only did writers have the chance to pitch directly to editors, but there was the benefit of seeing their initial reaction to the pitch via video chat. On the surface, I found this terrifying, but the opportunity was just too good to pass up.

Thanks to Jennifer Eaton’s query letter critique, I worked on creating a stronger hook. Minutes before they opened the live chat, I made one last change to that hook and used it as my Twitter pitch.

Screen Shot 2013-08-17 at 7.39.08 PM

As the event began, I watched the live feed with a knotted up stomach. What if they hated it? What if I set myself up for the ultimate humiliation? I had to keep telling myself that being a writer means having thick skin. Even if the response is horribly negative, I still believe in my story. Of course, there was also the chance that my pitch would be ignored altogether. Then, at the 4:57 mark, I got the shock of my life when they read my Twitter pitch.

I couldn’t watch the screen. I stared at my keyboard and held my breath as I waited for the response. I almost screamed when the first editor reacted immediately with “Oh, I like that.” She went on to request a query letter, which almost made me scream again, (I was in a public place when all of this went down, so screaming was not an option).  The other editor was not impressed, but something I’ve learned over the years is how subjective the publishing industry can be.  Instead of taking it personally, I respect her opinion. Regardless, I managed to pitch my book to an editor who loves muses. Seriously, what are the odds??

My happy dance moment can be seen on youtube, (it starts at 4:57). However, the entire event is worth watching as these editors hold nothing back and offer fantastic insight and advice on the art of pitching.

I have since sent a query letter, so now it’s all about waiting for a response. Even if nothing comes of it, I’m still immensely proud of myself for taking such a huge step forward. This entire experience has reminded me that good things can happen if I’m brave enough to take a chance.

Thank you to the organizers of WriteOnCon for offering such an amazing event!

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c.b.w. 2013

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