Tag Archives: agents

Redrafting a Query Letter


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I’m often asked, “You’re so busy, when do you find time to write?”

Of course I reply with, “I find the time.”

I do have a full schedule, or a full plate, whichever way it’s put, I am quite the busy person. Single mom, work, college, plus a huge list of other things to add that I wish not to discuss publicly. I’ve often stated when I fit in my writing. It’s usually scribbling ideas down onto paper whenever I have a free minute, such as standing in the grocery store check out lines. Then late at night, or right before class, I’ll type them up. Usually, it helps to have a printed manuscript for me to scribble on, but I always have a notebook where I keep all my notes.

Currently, I’ve been adding the last pieces to my manuscript. A sentence or two here, cut and paste that over there… As I type this, I’m 200 words shy of making 60,000 words. Wow! Well, isn’t that enough? Apparently not! It is a young adult novel, so there is a minimum and a maximum amount of words required for a publisher to actually look into publishing an author’s book…so I’ve been told…by a couple of actual publisher’s.

I didn’t come up with that entire word count over night…I wish…It took me five, long years to come up with that amount. So, you can see, I may seem to have accomplished a lot, it just took me a long time to get here. I don’t spend all of my time on the computer, writing…though some of my relatives may think otherwise.

Honestly, after hearing other authors tell me how long it’s taken them to come up with their first manuscript for a full novel, I don’t feel so bad on how long it took for me to get this far.

I’m now at the point to where I should prepare a query letter. I have written and rewritten a query letter for this manuscript, though it just hasn’t caught an agent’s attention. It’s taken me five years to write a novel with 60K words, why should it take me so long or be so hard to write up a short professional letter? Well, it is a hard market for us authors. So hard in fact, that a query letter has to have the essentials, yet catch an agents eye for them to pick you and your manuscript. It has to be perfect.

I’ve had a few ‘maybes’, but they weren’t a definite ‘yes’. So, it was back to the drawing board, so to speak. I couldn’t understand what my query letter lacked. It had all the important details; genre, word count, title, synopsis, a little bit about me…yet, no yes’s. I had a hard time coming up with my query letter. I honestly didn’t know how to write one. I had to research and research this on the internet, through the writer’s digest magazine, even thumbed through several books on ‘how to get published’.

Until one day, I had stumbled upon a blog that proved most helpful in every way. Jane Friedman, a publishing consultant, with many years of experience, had written a ‘Complete Guide To Query Letters…’ After scrolling through this post, I finally had the understanding of how my query letter should read. It clicked. The part about her ‘Hook Instruction’ was proved most helpful to me. After having a few people read my query letter, it seems that’s what it lacked, a hook.

Now it’s time for me to go re-type my query letter, though with motivation and determination that I will have the perfect one written and sent out to all those agents I’ve picked to query.

Be sure to check our Jane Friedman’s post about, ‘The Complete Guide To Query Letters That Get Manuscript Requests’. Also scroll through her other posts, you’ll find them all very helpful.

Happy writing!

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Book Reviews on Amazon Actually Help


It’s a hard life/job being a small time published author, especially when you first start out. You continue to market yourself time and time again, in hopes of getting your work out there. My first year as a published author went really well. I had quite a few book signing events, which led to being invited to other events where I was able to set up a table for more book signings. I’ve sold quite a few books by myself alone; through social media, emails, word of mouth, leaving postcards here and there. But that’s just small marketing. it takes a lot more effort, time, and money to really get noticed.

Recently, I’ve been doing some research on how to boost sales, broaden my marketing area, and strengthen my marketing skills. A very good friend of mine can tell you straight away, that I’m not very good with computers, yet I try and I am a quick learner.

Social media alone is the largest self-marketing tool that I know of, but word of mouth from readers can be a much bigger step in having your work noticed.

According to Brooke Warner in her Huffington Post blog post, “book reviews on Amazon are what carries it’s weight in getting more attention with Amazon.”

“After you hit 50 (ratings), you get more visibility on Amazon.”

In this line of work, I believe reviews from readers are extremely important. It helps me, the author, know that my work is being purchased, that my work is being seen by others. It also lets me know what people actually think of what I have written. It also lets me know that my work is getting out there.

It takes a lot of time and and a lot effort to put a book together and get it out on the market, yet it takes little effort to write up a review.

If you read a book and truly love it, be sure to let the author know. There’s many webpages out there where their work is being sold. Be kind and leave a quick review. I’m a big Goodreads user and love to rate author’s books. I also click which ones I’ve read, want to read, and have purchased. I then write up a short review on what I thought of each book I’ve read. And if I loved a particular book, I let them know.

I’ve even written reviews on books and posted them here on my blog, tagging their name and a link to where you can purchase that book or see other works by that author. This all helps us authors in many ways. It gets our name out there. Word of mouth goes a long way, it is a small part of marketing, and it does help the author. You never know when someone is actually reading that review; it helps make that decision for them to purchase that book.

According to a blog entry by Mike Briggs, on author Patricia Briggs’ writing, “…that pure, dumb luck plays a major role in this phase of the game.”

He’s right. Just by posting on my blog here, I’ve been able to bring attention to my work and what I do. I’ve had guess blog spots where I talked about what I do and how I got started and why. Other author’s, whom I have reviewed and shared their work here on my blog, have seen my posts and have thanked me.

Small steps can lead to big adventures, yet you have to take those small steps.

With all that said, if you have purchased my book and would like to leave a review, click here and it will take you to Amazon. Also, feel free to purchase a copy if you haven’t already. If you would like a personal signed copy made out to someone, click here. To rate my book on Goodreads, click here.

I will be finishing up my last round of edits on my last chapter of my young adult novel and will be sending it to my editor very, very soon. After the last draft is finalized, I will be sending it off to the publisher. As always, I’ll keep everyone posted.

Cheers!

Winter Fever, Cabin Blues…


Or is it ‘Cabin Fever, Winter Blues’?

Either way, it’s another fine winter day, stuck indoors. I’m actually being a bit sardonic, but who wouldn’t be unless you could be outside enjoying the weather. Though there aren’t any slopes here for me to grab my snowboard and head out to. Nor is the ground covered in snow, for mini me to go sledding. Instead, the ground is covered in ice that has been melted and frozen, again, and again, over the past few days. Today, our forecast called for a snow and rain mix, which didn’t began falling until late morning. It just made everything that much more slippery. I decided to stay home with my daughter, since I have to drive North where the roads would be much slicker.

Though I have driven in wintry conditions, it is very different here in Arkansas, especially when you’re surrounded by drivers who cannot drive on ice and/or snow. Some cannot even drive when it’s raining, so I find it best to stay clear by staying home. My daughter finds serenity in watching the snow fall. We have a large picture window in the living room with a wide window sill for her to lean on and to also give her plenty of space to play with her toys.

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On days like this, I find myself in the office, on the computer, trying to finish up homework, or work on the next research paper for a class or two, or do a bit of writing. I think if I redecorated this office, it would have more of a calm, soothing atmosphere where I can be more creative. I think it’s the only room that still has the fake wood paneling from the 1960’s, covering it’s walls. Plus, the photos that cover the wall space above grandpa’s desk are decades old and could be upgraded.

I think I may have found my next summer project…to redecorate and rearrange the office.

I mostly find my creative energy in a mixture of places, such as, bookstores, coffee shops, libraries, front porch. Sometimes, the recliner in the living room, next to our picture window is a perfect spot for writing, especially on days like today. Anywhere my mind can roam freely.

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Lately, I’ve been spending most of that free time between classes, in my college library. Just yesterday, I had my headphones on, music going, and I was able to finally finish editing chapter one of my young adult novel. This is the same novel I had tried querying agents last summer for, but without success. It’s a tough job, being an author. Tough market, actually. Some of them were very close in saying yes, adding tidbits of helpful info that would make the next round of querying a bit more successful.

So, I began working on it….again.

There was originally a prologue, but I had cut it out entirely. Now, I added it back into the novel, but instead of it being a prologue, I made it the beginning of chapter one’s story line. I then moved some of chapter three into chapter one, so the next on my to-do-list is to edit chapter three.

I’m coming up on 60K words total…on the manuscript that is. I’m going to make that a goal that I must achieve. Once that’s done, I am finished…I hope, cross my fingers and knock on wood. I’m looking forward to seeing it finalized once more and also hope that I can send it off to the publisher very soon. I think I’ll try querying agents again, if not, I know a few small publishers that wouldn’t mind publishing it for me.

Dana’s First Fish book signings coming soon


Dana's First Fish

I love it when I stroll through the aisles of my local bookstore and the employees recognize me as one of the local authors. It makes me feel proud, happy, and excited. I’m no Charlaine Harris, but still, I need that little nudge of encouragement, a boost of motivation. It hasn’t been a successful start as a published author. I’ve paid to have a marketing team help me put myself out there and it started out a little rough, but the wrinkles are starting to work themselves out, finally.

If I were a betting person, I’m not, but if I were, I would bet that if you googled Dana’s First Fish or my name, Jennifer N. Adams, a nice looking picture of yours truly would pop up. 🙂 Go ahead, google me, it’s okay. 😉 Granted, it took a lot of work and quite a bit of time for that to happen, but Dana’s First Fish appears as my book now and not the work of the other children’s author who shares my name. Since she’s written and published quite a long list of titles, I think it is I who shares her name and not the other way around.

When you spend all that time, money, energy into creating something and not receive credit, wouldn’t you be upset? I was. I would show up to events and the coordinator would frown as they were expecting the other Jennifer Adams to show up.

I’ve had a few people personally ask me to get with them in a few weeks (when they’re starting to book events) so that I can set up a date to have a book signing with them. I love when someone asks for me to do that. Make sure you keep your eyes open, as I’ll start setting up book signing events for late March or early April.

I still have a few copies of Dana’s First Fish on hand if you would like to purchase one or two of them. Just make sure that you make a memo as to whom I’m making it out to in the comments section before you check out completely.

A New College Semester Begins


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Last week I visited the college bookstore to pick up my books for class. This time I was stunned to see how many books I had ‘piled up’ for four classes; eleven in total. Unbelievable isn’t it? Two classes require four books each, one classes require two, and one class, that I’m taking online, thankfully requires one. Three of the four classes, as you would’ve guessed, require a lot of reading. Online articles and several pages of one of the books must be read before the start of the next class day. I thought to myself, Wow! If I didn’t have enough to do outside of college, I wouldn’t mind sitting back and reading a little. But, my plate continues to pile up.

I’ve signed up to intern at the Little Rock Zoo, in the large ape enrichment program, a program which I love, as I am not only an animal lover, but it’s part of the wide range of Anthropology. Last semester, I declared my major, Anthropology, physical anthropology to be exact. It took me a long time to narrow it down to that field as there’s so much in anthropology that I would love to do, cultural, archaeology, primatology, forensics, just to name a few that interest me.

The other day, someone from my college admin requested that I join their work study program. I had used up my entire GI Bill before I started last semester, without knowing. Plus, I didn’t sign up for any scholarships, as the GI Bill was covering all cost, so I was having to pay out of pocket for my classes last semester and this semester. Looks like someone saw this and decided to give me a little help in paying for college. This isn’t the usual work study program that students sign up for. It doesn’t have to do with financial aid. Instead, I am going to be working in the anthropology department, since that’s what I decided to major in.

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I continue my search for the right agent for my young adult fantasy novel. Several have said no, with a few that were so close to being a maybe. I stopped querying and decided to edit the first chapter, rearranging some paragraphs and adding more words here and there. I should have 60,000 words after I’m finished with the final draft.

It’s a start of a new year. I have three semesters left until I receive my bachelor’s degree. I continue to work on other writing projects in my spare time. And once I finish my final draft of my YA fantasy novel, I will begin querying again.

Wishing you all a happy hump day. Stay warm!

I’m still here


Hello readers! I know it’s been awhile since I’ve been on here. I’m a junior in college and find it is quite harder than the last few semesters I’ve been through. I have at least two years left before I receive my bachelors degree in anthropology. I’m looking forward to that moment.

Meanwhile, I’m still looking for an agent or a publisher to pick up my manuscript – young adult urban fantasy novel. I had revised it once more, adding over 11,000 words, making it over 54,000 words total. I feel much better about it this time around, than when I thought I had first finished it.

I had started querying agents a few weeks ago and had received a few no’s, but a few of them were really, really good no’s, the type that keeps you motivated in pushing on, the no that makes you realize that agents really do read your query letters, the type of no that has you believe that you’re so close to getting someone to represent your work.

For all those writers out there, looking for someone to represent your work, don’t give up, no matter how many emails you send out. There’s someone out there waiting for you, you just have to keep searching for them.

Four more weeks left in this college semester and I’ve started working on my next writing project.

Searching for a Literary Agent


For the past month or so, I have been working diligently on editing my young adult manuscript. I found a wonderful editor, who taught me a lot about what is important and what isn’t, pertaining to certain characters, as well as paying attention to detail. (I’m still horrible with comma usage).

I had cut a huge section out of one area which wasn’t really important to the story; sometimes, too much detail is just that, too much detail and it has to be cut. I then added more here and there to help strengthen certain areas. I also changed a character’s name after seeing it closely resembled another character’s name.

After deciding my manuscript was finally polished, I began to send out query letters to literary agents in hopes of finding someone to represent me and my work. This can either be hard, or easy. I have a book called, ‘A Guide to Literary Agents’. Over half of the book is nothing but agencies and agents. I started out with a few, checked out their websites, then checked out each agent’s bio, as well as their submission rules. It’s crucial to follow their submission guidelines.

Though I’ve received two rejections so far, I’m not letting that bring me down. It just tells me that there’s someone else out there, I just have to find them. Plus, it also tells me that someone actually read my query letter; some agencies receive over 100 query letters a day, so they don’t have time to read every one of them.

If you are in the same boat as I am, searching for a literary agent, I wish you the best of luck, and remember to stay positive.

 

I did it, it’s done!


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I have finally added the finishing touches to the second rough draft version of my Young Adult manuscript, polishing it to the best of my abilities. I have finally made it to, a hair over, 41K words. I feel excited and yet, very accomplished. I set a goal for myself and have reached it. I made it to the minimum word count.

I printed out my manuscript and handed it over to the one who is editing it for me. I told her to be very critical, as it is expected from real editors, agents, and publishers these days. I have two weeks left of school and will be spending it wrapped up in completing last minute essays and studying for finals.

As soon as I’m done with this semester i’m going to be working on my query letter and searching for agents. Quite a few people have asked me, “What about the using the publisher you already have?” I used them for my children’s book, due out next month. They are a Christian based company and probably won’t accept my manuscript as it is Fantasy-Fiction. I will ask them though.

It took me three years to write this novel, but I had many road bumps that prevented me from completing it sooner. I cannot wait to read my edits and get to work on them already. Since it is book one I’m already feeling itchy to begin working on book two.

I have at least fifteen chapters of written out in notes on how the book will be written and at least seven of those chapters have already been written. Yes, I’ve started this one long ago as well, when book one was a rough draft of a rough draft. I did not know how I wanted the story to end in book one. I then changed it many times, until I finally found the ending that worked best.

I’ll keep everyone posted on what I’m working on and my progress. Cross your fingers that I do find the right agent for me.

Wishing everyone a blessed day!

Getting published


It took me about a week to write the story for a children’s book. I had a friend proofread it for errors. I searched the internet and spent a lot of time browsing the shelves at the book stores. I would thumb through Writer’s Digest magazines, Self Help books, publishing books, how to publish books, whatever I could find to help me learn the process to get to my next step.

The next thing I needed to know was if I need to illustrate the pictures in my children’s book myself or will the publisher’s do that for me? This was also another thing I spent many exhaustive hours trying to find the answer to. Finally I found my Eureka moment. I didn’t need to draw the pictures myself, or hire anyone; the publisher’s had an illustrator that does that kind of work.

The next step, finding a publisher; this was another reason why I spent time in the book stores. I would flip the book to the inside cover to find the publisher’s name. I would then write the information down in my notebook. I would look them up online and see what all they had to offer, what Better Business Bureau said about them, then also, how many of their books did I see on the shelves?

After finding a publishing company of the genre I’m writing, I’ll pick one of the publisher’s and write down their names and email addresses. I also make sure the publisher is also interested in the genre that I’m writing about. Next would be to work on a query letter.

  • A query letter talks about your book and a little bit about yourself all on one page. Make sure your query letter is in Times New Roman, size 12 and submit it to the publisher. You don’t necessarily have to send to one publisher, you can send to more than one at a time.
  • When they accept your query letter and wish to read your manuscript, make sure it is in Times New Roman, size 12, double spaced, also your name, address, phone number, email address in the top left corner, then email it to that publisher. Sometimes they may request the first ten pages or the first chapter or the first three chapters. Each publisher is different.

I was lucky, I made a phone call and left a message on the publisher’s machine, she was on vacation at the time. The next day she called me and I told her that I was curious what all they had to offer, that I had a manuscript finished and was looking for a publisher. She told me a little about their company that wasn’t listed on their website. She told me some pricing information, also not listed on their website. She asked me how many words are in my story, I told her almost 700 words (children’s book requirements 24-40 pgs). Then she asked me if I would be willing to email her my manuscript so she could read it. I told her I would. The next morning, the phone rang really early in the morning; she had called to tell me she loved my story and wanted to publish it if I was willing to accept them (her company). I said sure!

Something about her company is that they don’t just accept everyone that sends query letters or manuscripts to them. So I was really lucky to be accepted.

She had sent an email and then the UPS had sent me a contract. My grandma and I went over the contract and I signed it. The next thing I had to do was break into my savings. It cost a nice chunk of change to get a book published, so be prepared. She had emailed me when they received my contract and then told me that I will be assigned an adviser. I then got an email from my adviser telling me what all I needed to do next.

She continues to email me every other week with tidbits of useful info about publishing and writing. Then she sends me the email to tell me when my book will begin production; which is in September. She told me that it’ll take 180 days to go through production. She also has sent me emails telling me what all to expect during that time and what I should do during my last month of production. I am really pleased with this company that I chose. How helpful they are. They are even most helpful in answering any questions that I have and I had many. I told the publisher that I would have many books after this one, as they are a series, she told me that she would offer me a discount, but if my books are popular I would get a much bigger discount.

I chose to go with this company because of the offers they give and the royalties are much greater than most of the companies out there. They also have a good standing record with BBB. I’ve also seen quite a lot of their books on shelves at bookstores and on amazon and not to mention, I met one of their authors during a book signing.

It was a dream of mine to finally become a published author. I have finished another book, a Young Adult novel and am in the editing process. I’m planning on finding a literary agent, hopefully this summer. I will let you know how the process of that goes as I did here with the publisher. I imagine it will be the same.