Tag Archives: literary 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.

Fairy Tales Are Still Popular


As I’m browsing the internet and books for certain literary agents to send a query letter to, I’ve come to notice, fairy tales are still popular, though only those with a new spin to them. Some literary agents are looking for newer versions of fairy tales, called fairy tale re-tellings. Imagine telling the story of Cinderella, though in a different way. The book I’m currently reading is called Cinder, by Marissa Meyer. It’s a Cinderella story, but it is so completely different that it actually captivates you into reading it. It has even made the New York Times Bestseller list.

Cinder is a sixteen year old mechanic and a cyborg. Yes, a cyborg Cinderella. At first, I thought, nah, I highly doubt I’ll be interested in reading it, but I was wrong. I decided to buy it the other day and am glad I did, it’s a great page turner. The first line even caught my attention: “The screw through Cinder’s ankle had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle.” It’s hard to find books with an awesome opening line like that. It makes you want to keep reading. I’m sure it’s a book of what our near future may look like – androids and humans living together.

I have read, Mr. Darcy, Vampire. Though it isn’t a fairy tale, it is a re-telling of the Mr. Darcy from Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice. I’m not too big on vampire books. They have to be different than everyone’s stereotypical image and I’ve only found very few that break that image so far. Mr. Darcy, Vampire is actually very different than some of the stereotypes some often have of vampires. It was a good read, if you haven’t read it. I think I’ve even heard of Alice in Zombieland, a re-telling of Alice in Wonderland. A different perspective for all of those who are familiar with the original version of Alice in Wonderland. I haven’t read it, but if you have, indulge me. Is it a good read? Or not worth buying? What other fairy tale re-tellings have you found or heard of? Click here for a list of what other fairy tale re-telling books are out already.

The Query Letter


You spend months…years, writing your manuscript (novel). Then you spend weeks…months, editing, editing, and editing some more, until it is finally perfect. Now comes the hard part, yes, the hard part. All that time spent writing a book was the hard part, so you thought. To me it was hard finding the time to write. And though it took me four years to complete just one manuscript, I have finally, successfully finished it, edited, and polished it, so that it is ready to be published. And that hard part you ask, that’s called the query letter.

I don’t know why, but I had a hard time coming up with the words to put into a query letter. I think it’s because it’s a formal letter that goes out to someone who has the power to either reject your manuscript or accept it. You spend all that time writing one manuscript for someone to just say, “We’re not accepting that genre as it isn’t what’s trending right now.” But how did you get their attention to begin with?

You need to know who you’re sending your query letter out to for starts. Most agencies have a webpage you can go to and they have a list of agents and their bios, which will tell you what they’re looking for. That’s the crucial part of the query letter. You don’t want to send out a query letter about your fiction novel to an agent that only accepts non-fiction. It’ll just end up in the trash and no one will see it.

You start your query letter addressing that agent. Then you tell them what genre your novel is, as well as the word count. Then you write a synopsis (a short description of your book; what you would normally find on the back cover of a book). Then you end your letter with sincerity. Some agencies want you to paste the first chapter, or the first ten pages into the email, right after your query letter. If you went to their website, each agency will have a tab called ‘submission’ to which will instruct you on what they want you to send them and who to address it to. Following directions is very important.

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.

Here is a synopsis of my manuscript, it is a urban fantasy for young adults:

Eighteen year old Noelle Bailey didn’t believe in supernatural beings like werewolves, vampires, or Bigfoot. You couldn’t tell her sixteen year old sister, Anya, that, though. She believed everything she read or saw on TV. So, when her uncle told Noelle she was part shifter, she didn’t think anything of it. She never showed signs of being supernatural, so she thought he was just telling her a story. Then one day she had a premonition.

She rode with her uncle James, the town’s sheriff, to work. Before they could arrive, though, he received a message about a homicide that had just occurred. With no time to drop Noelle off, he took her with him. Though she stayed in the car, it wasn’t long before she knew the details of the homicide. The what, where, when, and how were entirely felt by Noelle from her seat as a premonition of the murder.

As James tried to put pieces of the investigation together, a part of his past comes back and he is painfully aware that he can no longer hide his supernatural abilities, even from himself. To make matters worse, another murder happened under James’ watch that both his nieces were a witness of. This murder caused Anya to be kidnapped by a rogue werewolf. One thing lead to another, as a doorway to Anya and Noelle’s future opened, pulling them inside.

Now that I am done with this manuscript and am in the query process, it’s time to begin working on manuscript number two, which is book two. Book two picks up where book one ends. So, yes, the manuscript I just finished it the first book of a series. I already have twelve chapters sketched out and three of those chapters are already typed up. Spring Break begins this Saturday for me, but I have plans to keep myself busy, busy in hopes of getting manuscript number two finished soon. It took me four years to have the first one complete and in first rough draft form, so I don’t want want it to take even half that time to complete this next one.