Flake-out Friday–Query Tips

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One of the many reasons I freak out during querying time has to do with perfecting my query letter. I’ve written seven novels and therefore drafted seven query letters. Some of them never saw the light of day (because I never ended up querying the project), but I still felt the angst of shrinking a 75-85,000 word manuscript down to a measly 250 words…all while keeping the voice, tension, conflict, and world-building essentials.

YIKES!

Over the almost three years I’ve been writing, I have accumulated many tips that I find are ESSENTIAL, so I’ve decided to list them for you.

QUERY TIPS:

  • Address the letter to Dear Agent
  • Alternatively, use their first name
  • Don’t bother giving the word count or genre; the agent will figure that out based on your letter
  • BEG them to read your work–bribing with chocolate or money helps
  • Use fancy, hard to read fonts and bright colors
  • Attach your full manuscript to the equery
  • Send your letter to ten agents at a time as a group email
  • Don’t worry about typos–they’re not that big a deal
  • Give a detailed resume, especially of non-writing related things so the agent knows you’re well-rounded
  • Be as vague as possible–it creates mystery
  • Tell them the ending so there are no surprises
  • Write the query letter as if it’s the main character talking

Did I miss any?

 

Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog

Hey all! New month means a new blog chain tour with the sisterhood members! This month, I ask:

If you’re querying now, or have in the past, how do you develop patience to wait for responses?

This is near and dear to my heart as a lot of you know because I am in the midst of querying my YA dystopian.

O.M.G.

Gotta say, I generally start querying with positive thoughts and all intentions of being patient. Key word: start.

After a couple weeks (generally after the rejects start rolling in), I get antsy. Does my query suck? Does my writing suck (even after ALL the work I put in??? Gasp!)? Is my story boring, unmarketable, too late to be on the “cutting edge?” Blurgh.

The anstyness eats up my patience like the Langoliers ate the alterna-world that Stephen King dreamed up.

Then I’m left with the feeling of: Oh my HECK, I try SO hard, and STILL spin my wheels. This time is NO different than last time. I SUCK.

Nice and positive, right? Pffft.

I confess this because I know I’m not the only one whose felt this way. I also know it’s part and parcel of the game. I also know I need to overcome it (or at least not let myself wallow too much in it when the thoughts inevitably arise).

Now, I recently heard of some dear writer friends who have hit a BIG speedbump in their writing careers. I will let them explain what happened because it’s not my place to speak for them, but let me say, I felt for them. Like FELT for them. Plus, the news rocked my world. And not in a good way.

Seriously, with the numbers so against writers, where’s the hope? And if you’ve still got hope, is it a means of deluding yourself?

At the risk of derailing myself…

I hadĀ put this question out there to Twitter (paraphrased):

Is there still hope for me?

I doubted it. But the response I got was quite the opposite. People told me to keep going. Don’t give up. Yeah, there’s strife and angst, but it’s part of the journey, the potential highs outweigh the negatives. HOPE. EXISTS.

I put this aside out there because not only do I struggle with patiently waiting for agents to respond to my queries, I also struggle with patiently waiting for the angst to resolve. It’s during those times when my worries take over that I consider quitting. It’s during those times that I’m at the most risk of losing hope.

Low patience=High urges to quit

High patience=balance + hope

OK, to get to my point, how do I feed my patience pool?

  • Eat chocolate
  • Talk to my writerly friends
  • Flail and get out the angst quickly and then just as quickly move on to a new project
  • Refuel my brain with reading
  • Remember how excited I feel about working on projects
  • Remember I write to write. It’s a part of who I am and it’s going to stay, whether or not I get an agent or get published
  • Remember that even when I want to quit, I don’t *really* want to quit. Uh, if that makes sense
  • Remember that the successful writers are the ones who persevered and never gave up

Alrighty, for those of you who powered through this rambly, longish post, tell me what you do to keep your patience during querying.

WIP Wednesday

Hey gang!

I don’t often do the WIP update thing, but I’ve actually done some REAL writing in the past week or so. (Which, in and of itself is miraculous, LOL!)

  • I finished my middle grade! Got some great beta feedback already and am waiting for more before I revise.
  • I got a neato idea for a YA project. It’s based on a classic, but revamped enough that it is NEW. So far, I have a rough outline jotted down. I’m gonna flesh it out some more and hopefully get working on it in the next couple of weeks or so.
  • I’m still querying my YA Dystopian. It’s hard waiting for responses and even harder seeing the rejects add up, but I’m hopeful something positive will happen. If not, I can query the MG when it’s ready.

Ok. So that’s my update. (Earth-shattering, ain’t it?)

Your turn, writers. What are you working on? Do tell!

Tune in next Wednesday when we start another round of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog!

Flake-out Friday Brings You (dun-dun-dun): The Truth

So, over the past week, I bought, like a dozen books. YA books to be exact. Some I’ve been wanting to read for over a year, others have just come out and there’s been so much buzz about them, I couldn’t resist.

Two of my purchases were:

Moonglass by Jessi Kirby

Divergent by Veronica Roth

I LOVED both these books, but in totally different ways. Present me with paranormal, fantasy, dystopian whatever, and I’m totally there, no questions asked. So, Divergent was a no-brainer. THEN I started reading it…and couldn’t put it down. I read it in one day. I put off eating meals to get a few more chapters through it. (Anyone who knows me understands the significance of this statement.)

What made Divergent work?

  • Worldbuilding
  • Tension
  • Strong Pace
  • Conflict–within the main character and between characters
  • BIG Stakes

And, there’s something (also awesome) that struck my as INCREDIBLY difficult to pull off:

  • The main character was likeable AND unlikeable. At the same time!!!! (I won’t explain why, cuz I don’t want to spoil it for you. Go read the book. NOW!)

Moonglass is a contemporary work. Not necessarily my thing..listen, I get enough “real life” at my day job, ‘kay? Anywho, it took me a couple chapters to really warm up to it. When I did, I got roped into the main character’s emotional roller coaster so much I read until the wee hours of the morning, powering through it even when my eyes burned like crazy. The author’s talent came through in spades. Not only did I “feel” the emotions (due to a SPOT ON voice), but I also saw, tasted, smelled, and felt the beach, salt water, stormy winds, and summer heat. Jessi certainly shows us how to evoke all the senses!

What does this leave me with? Well, since I’m querying (have I mentioned that already? *gives innocent look*), I keep in mind the quality of the work I’m putting out there. Is it par with the current published novels? Better? Worse?

Personally, I feel my work is competitive. (At least, I’m a hell of a lot more competitive a year plus ago.) This makes me feel good. Like I just have to hit the right agent at the right time with the right story and things will click. This also makes me feel, gulp, jealous. Why aren’t I on the shelves with everybody else, huh? Why not?

Gosh, what’s one to do with such opposing emotions?

Well, I:

  • Read more
  • Write
  • Commisurate with friends
  • Distract myself (the house keeps me busy, LOL!)
  • Keep on hopin’
  • Check in with myself as far as when would be the right time to look into other options

Okay, so I’ve covered a lot in this post. Any thoughts? Reactions? Questions? Comments?

******

One final note: I’m on vacation next week, so will be taking a break from blogging. See y’all on the flip side! (By “flip side” I mean the last week of June.) šŸ˜‰

Flake-out Friday–When the odds are against you…

As I timidly enter queryland, I’ve been pondering the whole likelihood of landing an agent thing. On multiple sites you see where less than one percent of queries lead to an agent extending an offer to represent a writer.

So why do we even try?

That’s my question to you as I start off the next blog chain.

What keeps you going (either trying to get an agent or toĀ get published or finish that WIP that’s kicking your butt) when you know the odds are stacked way against you?

Sometimes, I don’t know what keeps me going. That’s the honest answer. Other times, I really believe I’ve got something worth publishing and dammit someone’s going to recognize that and help me.

On the down side, I look at the percentage of people trying to get agentsĀ versus the number of people who actually do and I get discouraged. Like REALLY discouraged. Even to the point of taking a break from it all.

Well, folks, the last break I took from querying lasted 16 months. Yup, 16! Granted, I spent that time writing my fool head off, honing my skills, learning to outline so I actually end up with a novel that has a plot, and also giving myself the opportunity to learn pacing and patience. (Plus, I renovated a house…not an insignificant feat, LOL!)

I sent out 5 queries this week. Got a rejection in less than 24 hours.

Looks like I’m back in the game.

Means something is keeping me going. I wouldn’t send a query if I didn’t think it would eventually get me somewhere, right?

A passage of scripture states thatĀ faith the size of aĀ mustard seed sizeĀ is enough. You know how small a mustard seed is? Small with a capital “S.” But that’s how hope works.

Okay. Final answer: HOPE keeps me going even though I know the odds are against me.

Check out Shaun’s answer tomorrow to find out how he keeps going.

“W” is for Worry Woes

Okay, so I’ve finally getting my YA dystopian to where I want it. Which means the next step is polishing the query letter (AKA document of doom) and synopsis (AKA I don’t wanna I don’t wanna I don’t wanna). (I don’t have a complex about these things or anything. *shifty eyes*)

So, what is it about the query letter and synopsis that has me shaking in my flip flops?

Well, I won’t go off on a rant here, but I’ll give a quick rundown:

  • The last time I queried, it was a disaster. DISASTER.
  • Rejections are depressing. (Yes, I get over it and move on, but still, it hurts.)
  • I got frustrated that I didn’t get anywhere. (Okay, so my writing sucked, but still, as a newbie I didn’t know that.)
  • I *hate* being frustrated. (I really don’t know anybody who likes it, LOL!)
  • No matter how many times I revised the query and synop, they were never “punchy” enough…which led to feelings of utter disappointment (in myself) and a sense of failure. Icky.

Okay. Lots of negatives here. GREAT fodder for worry, right?

Yeah.

So, how am I going to break out of it and dive into the crazy query race again?

  • Remind myself that my writing is, like, a THOUSAND times better than before.
  • Remember the support and compliments of writing buds and CP’s who believe in me.
  • Practice patience. More R’s will come, but I don’t have to get fatalistic about it.
  • Hang onto hope. Even if it ends up shredding my fingernails to bits, I’m not gonna let go.

Now it’s your turn to share. When you get the worry woes (for whatever reason), how do you get over them? Share your strategies.

Don’t forget to check out Deb’s answer to this month’sĀ round of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog!

EDIT: Deb’s taking a break from the Sisterhood this month. šŸ˜‰