Tag Archives: query letters

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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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.

work

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!

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.

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.