Publication Pitfalls: Watching out for the Alligators

58e5a-insecure2bwriters2bsupport2bgroup2bbadgeThe first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day.

August 1 question – What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?

Pitfalls while seeking publication are inevitable. They’re like trying to avoid Legos on the floor in the middle of the night when you have small children or trying not to be murdered by your cat when you go down the stairs. It’s going to happen. The most you can do is brace for them and prepare.

pitfall_alligatorsHowever, I’ve been around the block a few times so here are my best tips about avoiding pitfalls and then some. Of course, it’s not an all-inclusive list, but I think these are the biggies.

  • Do not send anything out for publication (or to an agent) without a critique by trusted readers (not your mom, not your partner) and a thorough editing, revision, and proofreading
  • On that vine…learn the difference between revision, editing, and proofreading
  • Make it a point to understand story structure and how it applies to your work. As a lifetime reader, I’d developed a general sense for how a story should unfold, but I’ve still benefitted from studying craft and how to develop a story (even as a pantser, you need to understand plotting when you go back to revise!)
  • Learn to take criticism from a critique constructively – you may not agree with every point, but you can’t disregard the feedback without thoughtful consideration
  • Read the guidelines for manuscript submissions. I’ve always been good with this so I’m always surprised to find people who blindly send their work out.
  • Keep track of where you send your manuscripts, when, to whom and when you received an answer. Trust me. This will save you a ton of embarrassment. You can use excel, pen and paper, an app, whatever. Just track it.
  • Learn how to craft a cover letter or query. Cover letters for short stories are generally painless. Query letters can be a little more difficult (do you think?) so feedback is vital. Jonathan Maberry has some great free templates here. And here is a step by step if you need one.
  • Do not go into a pitch session (for fiction) with unfinished work, expect the agent to read anything right there, and/or give the agents your ideas and expect them to pick something for you to write about.
  • Learn how to handle rejection professionally, not personally. It happens to everyone. Don’t send a nasty response to the editor/agent/publisher. Don’t call them or stalk or write horrible things on your blog on Twitter. Just don’t be that person.

So if you want to be published, take a chance, grab that vine, and swing. Just expect to get a little muddy here and there on your way to publication and even afterward.

Helpful Links on Dealing with Rejection (because there will be a lot of that!)

How to Handle Rejection Like a Pro by Annie Sullivan

The Bulletproof Writer: How to Deal With Rejection at The Creative Penn

25 Things Writers Should Know About Rejection by Chuck Wendig

Advertisements

Under the Weather: Finding your Grit

This month’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group asks – When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?

The awesome co-hosts for the April 4 posting of the IWSG are Olga Godim, Chemist Ken, Renee Scattergood, and Tamara Narayan!

 

 

Excellent question and one that can be difficult to answer. Sometimes writing just doesn’t happen. Sometimes the answer is to do something else, like go for a run, or read, or even play a video game. For me the key is to be excited about a project so even if I’m not on a upswing, I can look forward to writing or editing a piece where I feel passionate about it.

thomas-charters-298906-unsplash.jpg

Photo by Thomas Charters 

And by feeling passionate or excited I don’t mean feeling that it’s going to be easy. Sometimes the hardest work, where I’m thinking deeply about the writing, is the most fruitful. Granted, it’s so easy to look at the amount of work needed and say, oh I don’t feel passionate about this so I’m going to play World of Warcraft (yes, still playing). The road to procrastination is paved with side quests.  The trick is being honest and saying either:

  • I just can’t dredge up the words. I need a break to do something else today.
  • I’m at a tough spot and it’s going to be rough, but I’m going to focus on this for one hour and see what happens.

And the first option is okay. As long as I don’t let that day become a week or a month.

The second option is when I have to dig deep. Can I do 30 minutes? 15 minutes? Can I write just one paragraph? I tell myself I can delete it when I’m done. These tricks (somehow I can trick myself, which is pretty darn amazing. Brains are weird.), these tricks of time and short bursts of writing lend a sense impermanence to the writing which may be what I need at the moment. After all, if I pretend it’s not “serious writing,” then there’s no pressure. I can delete it and move on. I’m often pleasantly surprised by what comes of letting go of the pressure to perform.

If all else fails, sometimes I switch tracks completely. Last week, feeling conflicted and overwhelmed about working on my projects, I let myself write a few poems. No one has to see them, I flexed some creative muscle, and also worked on brevity and imagery. A win all around.

shakesSometimes it helps to remember that 10 minutes of writing is better than nothing. You don’t have to create a masterpiece each session. Just write and let go for a few precious moments.

 

 

Writing Life: Celebrating the Big (and the not-so-Big) Things

check markThis month, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group posed the question – How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal/finish a story? I’d love to be able to say I treat myself to a weekend in the Florida Keys or a workshop in Ireland over the summer. Alas, my celebration usually involves a mess of nerves untangling themselves for a short while and then a collapse on my bed. A brief respite when I glow with the satisfaction of sending a story to my critique group or to a publisher before my self-doubt and impostor syndrome kicks in. Ahhh, I have completed something!

But this reaction, while valid, only contributes to a continuous cycle of Never Feeling Good Enough. And this, my friends, is exhausting. Mentally, emotionally, and even physically. We should reward ourselves when we hit a goal or meet a deadline. We should take a moment to breathe, pat ourselves on the back (*creak* I definitely need more yoga in my life!) and say to ourselves, good job.

Going beyond massages, pedicures, manicures, what can we do when money is tight? Here is a quick list of free or low-cost rewards I’ve put together that works for me based on my interests:

  • A race entry (can be under $40 for a 5k)
  • Workout apparel (Tar-jay has some great options for all budgets and sizes)
  • A new book (here’s a no-brainer for writers. (You can opt for something light and breezy like a cozy mystery or dig into a how-to book for inspiration. I’m recommending Chuck Wendig’s Damn Fine Story, which is a switch from your normal how-to and delves more into narrative and storytelling.)
  • Try a new running or bike trail. Even if you’re not a runner or biker, getting outside can be a wonderful mental and emotional refresher
  • Sign up for a new type of workout – barre, Zumba, hot yoga. I’ve even seen naptime workouts.
  • Try a new type of wine (I recently had plum wine from Valenzano Winery here in NJ and it was delicious! Bonus, it was around $11.)
  • Try a new lipstick or nail polish. No long-term commitment and can you say unicorn or mermaid hues?
  • Check out a museum on free days
  • Organize a board game or card night with friends
  • Take a night off to pamper yourself – order in, watch a movie you’ve been meaning to see, wear something comfortable, and relax with no thoughts about the next goal or due date. Just be for a few hours.
happy-trails.png

Get moving!

Recently, I submitted several short stories to magazines. To celebrate, I finally decided to check out the trails near my house that I found out about two years ago but never tried. Of course, it was the day after a major wind and snow storm. Downed trees and mud acted as an obstacle course, but I needed to be outside after a long winter to sweep the cobwebs away and prepare now (small steps) for a triathlon in July. This didn’t cost anything, plus what better way to reward myself than giving my body the gift of health?

Remember, you can reward yourself for any goal, not just sending out work or publication. How about the fact that you wrote your minimum for the week (word count, time per day, days per week, whatever)? Or that you revised a particularly troublesome scene. Or that you learned a new skill to help you market yourself or your work better.

40743-cat-does-yoga

See…elebenty is a word.

We don’t give ourselves nearly enough credit for being writers and for writing (which we know is a lot more than just pounding out words). This is, for many of us, homework for life. Writing after the day job or school, after all the zillion other things that need to be done, and the elebenty billion other things we want to do (I just NEED that achievement in World of Warcraft!). We’re fighting against exhaustion, lack of time, and the ogre of procrastination.

Hitting a goal is some major shit. Treat yourself and learn to say, good job. No qualifiers needed.


Insecure Writers Support Group

The awesome co-hosts for the March 7 posting of the IWSG are Mary Aalgaard, Bish Denham,Jennifer Hawes, Diane Burton, and Gwen Gardner!

 

 

 

 

 

Planting Literary Seeds: Growing a Community

Growing a writing community isn’t easy. You start slow, you start small. A few writers gather in a dusty library room or a small corner of a bookstore. Maybe you trade manuscripts, or read passages aloud. Or you exchange personal stories of rejections, maybe even an acceptance or two. With luck, the group grows. More people join. Newbies, pros. All looking for someone who understands.

pexels-photo-296230.jpeg

The great thing about life is that you never know where a path may take you. The best case scenario? Small intimate gatherings swell to large groups. Members exchange hard-won wisdom, new markets, more rejections, but even better, more acceptances.

As a long-time member (and currently president) of the South Jersey Writers’ Group, I have seen new members come through our doors, perhaps a little nervous, eyeing us up like prey wandering into a room full of predators and I have to laugh a little to myself. After all, I think most of us have heard the horror stories of writers’ groups full of bloated egos and relentless back-stabbing. You know how those artist types are.

Yet, not.

Because sometimes magic happens. Let me give you only a few examples.

Vice-President Jessica Walsh-Jadach recently lead the group’s January meeting on goal setting. She provided each of us with a worksheet and helped us our form our plan, goals, and intentions for the upcoming year by pushing us to delve into what makes us write. Jessica, a certified life coach, also published an amazing 2-year journaling book, something I’m sure she hadn’t thought she would ever do when she joined the group (nor did she think she would become vice-president!).

Jennifer M. Eaton has had several YA books published with great success and is now a USA Today Bestselling Author. I still have yet to convince her to lead a meeting. Soon…

Tom Minder’s crime fiction novel The Long Harbor Testament was published last year and he has had many successful book signings, including several at various Barnes and Noble stores.

Kathryn Hively runs the Just BE Parenting blog and is a contributor to other parenting blogs and sites.

Cassandra Ulrich has published several young adult novels, adult romances, short stories, and poems.

There are many others, but I want to stop here. All five members highlighted are very different writers with a wide range of interests and backgrounds, but each of them has progressed through hard work, self-education, dedication, and of course talent, but that talent is something they have cultivated. And, more importantly, they each have contributed to the writers’ group by giving back to help others. Each is generous with their knowledge and time and ready to answer questions because that’s what’s we do.

This is what a writing community means and looks like – to support and build each other up. It’s not about competition, not about tearing others down, not about the stabbing of the backs. The SJWG exists to grow the voices of South Jersey and our members are integral to that mission. We are there for each other. Sometimes with knowledge, sometimes with a hug, sometimes with a friendly, but honest critique.

And really, the only prey at our meetings are the cookies.

 

Serendipity and Writing Conferences

Tomorrow begins the 69th Philadelphia Writers’ Conference. Last year I had blogged about my experience as a first-time attendee. This year’s fantastic line-up includes J. H. Sullivan as Keynote Speaker and Yolanda Wisher as Opening Speaker. I’m excited to attend again this year since it was such an amazing experience in 2016.

wip

I have only attended a handful of writing conferences, but I can’t say I’ve been to one and have not learned something, or met someone interesting. I think even getting out there and being surrounded by life-minded people is helpful. I’ve practiced pitching my novel and talked to publishers and agents and have always come away with some new idea. Truly, the atmosphere fosters a sense of community and stimulates creativity.

As we approached the start of the PWC I was mulling over this post and why writing conferences are so awesome.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find that Donna Galanti, author of Joshua and the Lightning Road and the brain behind Your Awesome Author Life, posted a new YouTube video 12 Reasons Why to Attend a Writers’ Conference. Serendipity much? Take a look at Donna’s 12 reasons and subscribe to her channel. She’s full of great ideas and good advice.

Finally, I’m packing a light, but large bag. I love the swag!

Revive the Drive: An Interview with Lesley Conner from Apex Publications

Today, I interview Lesley Conner, writer and managing editor of Apex Publications and Apex Magazine.

Apex Publications is currently holding a subscription drive called Revive the Drive. By contributing you not only help an amazing speculative fiction publishing company continue to publish original works, you can also unlock new original fiction, increase the pay for the writers and artists, and help with a website upgrade.

Items for sale start for as little as $3 (the Maurice Broaddus guest edited issue 95).

Onto the interview…

Have you ever received really nasty (or plain crazy) responses to a rejection?

I have gotten some pretty nasty responses to rejections. I’m sure every editor has. Typically when it happens, it’s because the author assumes that their story was rejected due to something personal about the author: snide comments about how we’d buy their story if they were a woman (because we all know women have it so much easier), or they should sue because we obviously rejected the story purely based on their race (which I didn’t know before they responded to the rejection and told me). Those emails really bother me. Honestly, when I’m reading a story, I barely even look at who the author is or where they’re from. And there’s no way for me to know any personal information about them unless they put it in their cover letter. All I’m interested in is whether or not the story is good for Apex.

Now occasionally I’ll get a response to a rejection where the author tells me how much I’m going to regret rejecting the story and it’s already been bought by another magazine and they are going to make that magazine rich and famous because they are SOOOO amazing! Mmhmm, sure you are. If another magazine has actually already bought the story, then you simultaneously submitted to Apex Magazine and the other zine, and we don’t accept simultaneous submissions anyway. Sooo … In this situation, I have not once regretted turning down the story.

 

What do you personally like best about going through the slush pile, besides finding a gem of a story?

Of course finding an AMAZING story is always the best feeling, but I also really like when I read a cover letter and it says that this is an author’s first submission. Or it’s from a young writer in high school and it’s their dream to be a published author. I always try to be really positive—even if I’m sending them a rejection notice—when interacting with these authors. I want to encourage them to keep submitting, keep writing. This is a tough business. It’s hearing a LOT of ‘no’ among very rare ‘yes’s. So if I can do anything to help a new writer out, I’m going to do it.

 

What made you decide to go into publishing?

It wasn’t really a conscious decision. I knew Jason Sizemore (Apex’s EiC) from a few sci-fi conventions that we had both attended and saw him post on Facebook that he was looking for someone to help out. On a whim, I volunteered. At the time I was staying home with my younger daughter who wasn’t in school yet and working on my novel The Weight of Chains, so I had free time on my hands. Despite having no prior editing experience, Jason gave me a shot and I started working 5 or 10 hours a week helping with marketing. Six years later and here we are. Best on a whim ‘yeah, I’ll do that!’ moment in my life. J

 

Do you ever find yourself accepting a story that you like but still needs work? If so, what goes into the editing process between you and author?

Typically the stories we buy are very clean and ready to be published. We work on a very tight schedule, so there isn’t time for a lot of back and forth. This is why it is incredibly important for writers to make sure that their stories are polished and ready to go before they submit. Of course we copy edit every story before publication, but this is only to catch minor things—an awkward phrase or missing word. We aren’t doing major changes.

 

Best tip on balancing work/ home life/social media?

Balance? Yeah … that would be good to have …

I wish I were joking more than I am, but I suck at balancing my work and home life. I work from home, so … it sorta feels like I’m always working. And sometimes I AM always working, because if something pops up it is really easy to just grab the laptop and deal with it. This is not good. It is not healthy. And I am trying really hard to be better about it.

As for social media, I do have tip: Log out. Yeah, I said it. Log out! I used to keep Twitter and Facebook up and open all the time and periodically throughout the day I’d scan through it. That doesn’t sound that dangerous, but it is. When you do this, you have no idea how much time you are spending just scrolling! That’s time that you could be using to write or work or read; all things much more important that liking a photo posted by someone you haven’t seen in 20 years. Also, I feel like in recent months that Twitter and Facebook seriously depress me. Everyone is so angry and negative all the time (some with good reason, some without) and it was really getting to me. I’d be sucked into reading these long posts and emerge completely beaten down. Even when I could tear myself away to work, I couldn’t focus. So for the most part I stay logged out. I check in on things first thing in the morning while I’m drinking my coffee, and may go back one more time during the day. And that’s it. It’s a small change, but it has really helped me be more productive and happier.

 

What changes or patterns have you noticed over the past several years regarding the content of submissions? 

Submissions are a strange, funny thing. Taken individually or just a handful of stories, you won’t see anything, but when you read a lot of slush, patterns do emerge. Not so much patterns as in ‘this is the future of scifi,’ but more a realization after reading a dozen stories, more than half of them dealt with the sea or ocean in some way. Or suddenly a chunk of stories come in that are all flash fiction. Or maybe you get a bunch of stories that deal with monsters. Sometimes the similarity between a batch of stories is oddly specific—cowboys on Mars—and at that point I have to wonder if another publisher was holding an open call for a themed anthology and we’re seeing the stories that didn’t make the final ToC.

apex

 

Lesley Conner is a writer/editor, managing editor of Apex Publications and Apex Magazine, and a Girl Scout leader. When she isn’t handling her editorial or Girl Scout leader responsibilities, she’s researching fascinating historical figures, rare demons, and new ways to dispose of bodies, interweaving the three into strange and horrifying tales. Her short fiction can be found in Mountain Dead, Dark Tales of Terror, A Hacked-Up Holiday Massacre, as well as other places. Her first novel The Weight of Chains was published by Sinister Grin Press in September, 2015. Best of Apex Magazine: Volume 1 marks her debut experience in anthology editing. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters, and is currently working on a new novel. To find out all her secrets, you can follow her on Twitter at @LesleyConner.

February: Spread Love – Picture a Day (2)

My February Project is Picture a Day. Something inspiring, something cool, something to make you smile or think.

Day 2

What says sanctuary more than a cozy cafe? One of my favorite things to do at lunch is take a short walk to the locally owned cafe, Nook Bakery and Coffee Bar and get some writing done. Mike and Edna, the owners, specialize in small-batch baking and ethically sourced coffee. The muffins and scones are warm in the mornings and did I mention the lavender madelines?

blog-day-2-feb

Poconos Writers’ Conference 2017

I had the pleasure of attending the 4th Annual Poconos Writers Conference over the weekend. I love conferences because no matter what your level of writing, you can never (and should never) stop learning. Sponsored by writer and attorney Michael Ventrella and the Poconos Liars Club, this one-day writing event featured three writers and one agent who gave excellent talks on craft and publication.

Michael Ventrella kicked off the conference with his talk “The Biggest Mistakes Made by New Authors.” Some great advice included treating your writing like a job in terms of dedicating your time and learning the business, finishing your work, and his secret to success (exclusive to attendees only, I’m afraid). I jest, but he did emphasize the importance of talent, hard work, and networking.

poconos-mike

Michael Ventrella

Next up was agent Alia Hanna Habib from McCormick Literary who presented on query letters and knowing your genre (with examples of what works and what doesn’t). Every time I go to a talk on query letters I learn something new and this was no exception. Alia’s experience was invaluable (and funny). Highlights included ensuring your query reads something like jacket copy, know to whom you are submitting and, of course, read the submissions guidelines.

After lunch, romance writer Megan Hart spoke on Point of View. She provided clear instruction on each type of point of view. I think my greatest takeaway here was the emphasis on how point of view not only controls what we the readers know, it gives the reader information as the character sees it. Each character is the hero of her or his own story, which affects how they tell the story.

poconos-hart

Romance Author Megan Hart

Dark fantasy author Rob E. Boley wrapped up the speaker line up with his presentation on Worldbuilding, which, as he points out, is integral for all genres, not just speculative fiction. Rob asked members of the audience what they thought worldbuilding included and the responses were phenomenal. Many volunteered answers but then made connections with how that aspect (say, currency) would affect the world and the way characters interact. Rob emphasized that your world must serve the story. Coincidences that screw the characters are acceptable. Those that help are not. There are no silos – different aspects of the world affect other aspects (just like the real world!). Do not cast brushstrokes and don’t see everything in black and white.

poconos-boley

Dark Fantasy Author Rob E. Boley

The audience participation really energized the crowd for the final session – a Q&A panel with the authors where we discussed marketing, networking, and being yourself on social media (please, no non-stop promo tweets!) and at writing events. In the end, sell yourself as much as your work, but be real.

Highly recommended conference, especially if you’ve never attended one and might be feeling overwhelmed at the thought of a large, multi-day event.

PS Huge shout out to the Eastern Monroe Public Library for hosting the event. Support your local library!

PPS I might have bought some books…

poconos-books

Nanowrimo 2016: Are You Ready for an Adventure?

We are exactly one month out from November 1, which marks the start of the annual writing frenzy known as NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Like Bilbo, I will probably be running out the door without my literary handkerchief (i.e. no novel plan whatsoever) at 12:01.

Shield-Nano-Side-Blue-Brown-RGB-HiRes.png

Started in 1999, Nanowrimo challenges participants to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Local chapters from around the world bring writers together regionally, both in real life and online, to assist them, motivate them, and inspire them.

This year I am Municipal Liaison along with Ema Timar for the South Jersey region. It’s always a lot of fun to plan events and help fellow writers. 50,000 words can seem daunting and overwhelming, but the goal of Nano isn’t to write a perfect novel. It’s to get the words down, establish a steady writing habit (1,667 words a day will get you there!), let you write with abandon and turn off the internal, nagging editor that will tell you that you suck, your writing is worthless, and how dare you end a sentence with a preposition?

I have been doing Nano since 2002 or 2003. I have only “won” once, in 2014. But I am okay with that. I always have more words on November 30 than I did on November 1 and isn’t that really the goal?

Nano is free (remember to sign up at the website when signups start shortly!) but there are cool items for sale to show your support. As a non-profit, Nano does depend on donations to help fund its writing programs. Not only can you chalk up some good karma, you can get cool swag if you do give!

So, join us! Get that novel out of your brain and onto paper (or screen).

Let go of your fears.

Create.

Let it flow through you into the world (and beyond)!

 

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_municipalliaison

 

 

K. M. Walton’s Surviving Query Quicksand

Query-Letter-Clinic-300x210.png

This is a long overdue post from June. Training for a triathlon and then some unrelated medical issues forced this blog to go on the backburner for a few weeks. However, I’m excited about this write-up because it’s from the 2016 Philadelphia Writers’ Conference and K. M. Walton’s Surviving Query Quicksand presentation.

To backtrack slightly, I met K. M. several years ago at a social gathering for writers. Not too long afterwards I attended the release party for her debut YA novel, Cracked. Now, there’s this idea roaming around that writers are tortured, lonely souls, always in competition with each other and surrounded by constant backstabbing and jealousy. But let me tell you the truth. In my experience, most writers I’ve met have been amazing people who are kind, generous with their time and knowledge, and rooting for their fellow writers. K.M. is no exception. She’s vivacious, always willing to help, and is a major advocate and force behind the anti-bullying campaign.

Her query presentation at the conference was amazing and I’m afraid my post will not do it justice, but perhaps I can provide you with some helpful tips. K. M. had queried her novel over 128 times before finding an agent. But persistence pays off (assuming you’ve done your homework) and K.M. has been published by a major house and has released two more novels, and other writings, with her next contemporary YA novel, Ultimatum, to be released March 2017 (hint: her website has a timeline about her publishing journey).

Now, I have written a query letter for my YA novel. It wasn’t a bad query overall. I didn’t make any major mistakes and it got the job done. I got nibbles, but nothing more. After leaving this workshop, I realized I had some work to do (actually I had a lot of work to do on the novel in general, but jumping the gun on querying and send out your novel is another post).

Remember, the purpose of a query letter is to have an agent or publisher read your sample chapters and ask for me. So to keep it simple, here we go:

General Don’ts:

  • Do not include your life story
  • Remove all unnecessary tidbits (if you’re a medical professional writing a medical thriller, that’s relevant. Your love of golf when you’re querying a YA paranormal romance isn’t.)
  • Do not mention how much your mother/sister/brother loved it
  • Do not bribe (I guess this is a thing!) or offer disingenuous compliments
  • Do not overstate your accomplishments

General Do’s:

  • Tell about your project
  • Tell about you – what’s relevant
  • Write so that you capture your audience and they want more
  • Be professional. This is a business letter which represents you and your work. Don’t be cute.

Query format:

(NOTE: K.M. shared this format from Elana Johnson’s ebook FROM THE QUERY TO THE CALL with permission)

  • Have a hook (sum up your novel in ONE sentence. Yes, you can do it. Propel the reader to want more.)
  • Provide setup (stick with the main character. Only introduce a second in full if necessary. This should be 3 – 5 sentences, about 75 – 100 words. Only include the most important details that build story or character)
  • Tell about the conflict (another 3 – 5 sentences; 50 – 100 words)
  • Then the consequence (what happens to the main character if he/she is not successful? What is the consequence?)
  • Everything else – your bio, publishing history – only include what is relevant. Word count, genre/subgenre, other similar books – but be careful here! Don’t say “This is the next Harry Potter!” Instead, try something like “I think fans of XX would like my book.”

Other tips:

  • Visit the agency website before you submit
  • Make sure you address an agent personally! (Dear Agent or Dear Sir or Madam is not going to fly)
  • Read and follow the submission guidelines (yes! yes! yes!)

query-gollum

I know people read these blogs and articles and think, oh, what do they know? How could I possibly reduce my grand fantasy epic to one sentence, maybe two? I need pages to explain the plot and go into detail about all the characters! My book is special and I need space!

No, you don’t. Really.

Agents and publishers do not want to spend an hour reading your query (and they won’t). They want to know simply: what is your book about, what is the main conflict, what happens if the MC fails. Honestly and truly. If you cannot tell someone what your book is about (mind you, NOT the plot, but what it is about) in one to two sentences, you have some work to do. Think elevator pitch. Or conference pitch. Go on too long and your listener’s eyes will glaze over if they haven’t already stepped off. Or tried to get off at any floor. Or jumped out a window just to get away.

Capture them with a hook, an intriguing question. Grab their attention.

K. M. provides several links on her website (hint again) about where you can get more information on writing your query and getting feedback on it.

There are a ton of resources out there. Don’t think the rules don’t apply to you.

So please, even if you are self-publishing, do your homework. If you’re at a book-selling event, or trying to get a local bookstore to carry your book, you need to grab the attention of your audience. Have your “pitch” – your intriguing question ready.

Whether you’re selling to agents, publishers, readers, or bookstore owners, remember – reel them in. Make your query so memorable, so captivating, that they must know what happens!

query snoopy.jpg

We’ve all been there…