Get Ready For #PitMad

I have discovered pitch parties on Twitter. There are a few of them out there. If you have a finished, unpublished manuscript that is ready to query you can participate in the pitch parties.

What are they?  In one tweet, 280 characters, you pitch your manuscript. That’s it. Literary agents and publishers will read the tweets and if they like your pitch that is considered a request for materials. You get to query them specifically by their request.

Often with this type of query request, you might get a personalized rejection, or if you’re lucky and they like your query, then they will request more materials to read.

I’ve participated in a few and had 2 agents request partials and 3 publishers. There is no guarantee, but it is fun.

is this Thursday! Are you ready? Make sure you read the full rules here! Happy Pitching!

pitmad.jpg

It’s important to pay attention to the time. EDT. if not sure what your time zone is compared, you can google it.

It is also essential to follow the rules. People will notice if you break the rules. The agents and publishers will notice. The general consensus is, if you can’t follow simple twitter pitch party rules, you might not be easy to work with. After all, you want to make a good impression.

I will be pitching for Prophecy Ink.

How do you write a pitch? I can get into the details, or you can watch this excellent short video at iWriterly by Meg Latorre.  Click on image to see the video and her blog.
meg latorre.pnghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7mZcyZU1JM#action=share

There are three things you want to highlight. Character, story and the stakes. It’s not a lot of space to work with, so the pitch needs to be compact.

Here are some that I used last time. I’ll be writing three new ones since twitter doesn’t like repeat pitches.

Betrayed by the police as a teen, Moira must now learn to trust a detective who can see her magic death-predicting tattoo. His presence puts Moira in the path of the assassins he’s tracking. With death all around them and chasing them, they must find the truth. #A #LF #F #PitMad

Moira gets three clues, two choices and only one small moment to change the prophesized death of a stranger. Assassins hunt her for defying the PROPHECY INK. She must learn the difference between saving lives to be free and saving a life so they may be free. #A #LF #F #PitMad

Moira doesn’t want to watch another person die horribly, nor to have assassins hunt her. She doesn’t want her life to fall apart beyond repair. It’s time for her to step up and find out who she is and what she’s made of. Oh, and save some lives along the way. #A #LF #F #PitMad

Each pitch is under 280 characters. That includes spaces and the #tags. I will write three new ones for this pitch. I have about 24 written for this story already.

I think it’s important to have three very different pitches. That way there is a better chance of catching someone’s attention.

It’s also fun to see what other people are writing about and how they pitch their story.

My advice about twitter pitch parties
If you’re querying, you should check these out. They are fun and a good way to get the attention of agents and publishers. As with anything, if you get a request, do your research, make sure they are legit. Have fun!

-Sheryl

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/09/04/your-daily-word-prompt-consensus-september-4th-2018/

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Spaces, The Final Frontier

Spaces, The Final Frontier  (2).png

Spaces, The Final Frontier

There seems to be some debate online and in the blogosphere about spacing after punctuation. I’ve talked about spacing before because I used to do it wrong and once in a while I catch myself double spacing. I have read articles arguing both single and double spacing after punctuation is correct. However, I found a vast majority that for manuscripts being submitted to literary agencies and publishers they want to see single spaces after punctuation. I have consulted with industry professionals and they all say single space only. Why is that? I’ve summed it up for you.

Back in the day when typewriters were the only form of typeset commonly used, all the letters took up the same amount of space, the typeset was visually ‘gappy.’ It didn’t matter if it was an i or a w or a , or . Thus to create a visual break a double space was used after all punctuation.

Today with the use of computers the industry standard for novels and general writing is a single space after punctuation. Now I know What people are going to say. But I was taught to double space.” Yes, and so was I. Because those teaching learned double space. We teach what we learned ourselves. There is an air of stubbornness about this subject that is fascinating and odd. It’s how I always did it, and I’m not stopping for anyone.” That’s fine, but if that level of stubbornness is displayed over something so minor (and easy to fix), the writer might be deemed inflexible and hard to work with and an agent or publisher might pass. While our books are our babies and we pour our heart and souls into them, I was given some golden advice from a trusted industry professional.

“If you are unwilling to change anything in your manuscript, edit or even revise to an agent or publishers request then traditional publishing may not be for you. Be flexible, willing to change, learn and grow. They know what they are doing and what will sell.”

I know it sounds harsh, but it’s true. How many times have I tolled over my manuscript? Changing things here and there, it can be an unending task. So why would I stop, submit to an agent or publisher and then say that it’s perfect and no I won’t change that paragraph, setting or the double spaces after punctuation? 

The benefits of single space:

The single space saves on space on the page. Seriously, in a book of 410 pages single spaced if I were to double space after just the periods it would add one full page, more if I were to do all punctuation. In this document there 5277 spaces removed when I went from double-spaced to single and ONLY after periods. Imagine how much more it would be if it were with all punctuation.

Honestly, when I found out I needed to reformat three completed 400+ page manuscripts to single space, I was floored and exasperated. Damn, that’s going to take forever! No, it isn’t. All I did was make a list of ending punctuation where a double space would follow. Such as:

Periods, commas, semicolons, colons, exclamation points, question marks, and quotation marks.

 “        ?         .     ;     :     )    &    @

(Use spaces before and after @ symbol except when it’s in an email.)

I then went to the find and replace feature(indicated by the red arrow below)

spacing

A box will pop up to “Find what:”  this is where I will type a period with two spaces after it then, enter a period in “Replace with:” with only one space after the period. I can then either “Find next and Replace” one by one or I can “Replace All.”

I merely repeated this for all punctuation.

These do not get spaces:

                                   Dashes         Wide-eyed. “I was going to-”  Ten-year-old
                                   Slashes         Either/or  This/that
Special Characters %  #  $         The #5 was actually $5.00.  10%  

The bottom line is if you want to double space go for it. It seriously only took me about a week to break myself of the double space habit. (I still do from time to time. Especially if I’m tired.) I have researched this subject on an off for a few years now (when it comes up), and I can say that the current majority says double space isn’t necessary or desired.

Now for a real kick in the pants, the newer generation is teaching themselves to write without spaces after punctuation at all. Why? Texting and laziness. I can just imagine all their English teachers cringing or pouring an extra glass of wine as they grind their eyes across their writing.

One article or blog will say one space others will be adamant it’s still two. I go by what the current professionals tell me, the ones working in the industry. Now if a teacher says to double space, then follow their instruction, but when an editor, publisher and professional writers all say single, I’ll follow their advice because I am sending my manuscript to them not my high school teacher from many moons ago.

My advice about spacing after punctuation

Single is industry standard. If you’re going to self-publish, then it’s up to you. If you’re looking at traditional publishing, conforming to that standard is necessary. P.S. that Search and Find feature is totally my favorite tool. Never use no-spaces after punctuation. Ever. Just don’t. It’s not natural to read without a space break between sentences. Single or double after punctuation is ultimately up to you, just be consistent.

Sheryl

Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/08/14/your-daily-word-prompt-natural-august-13th-2018/

What I’m Up To – Update

What I'm Up To Update

I have finished my collaboration with my editor, and I’ve begun the process of querying again. I will be posting more about editors and what made me decide to go that route and how I chose one.

At the moment I’ve started wading through the Literary Agents, and I forgot just how much work that is. I’ll also be talking about finding agents and what to look for in an agent. I’ve talked about this before, but with all good things, a reminder is a good idea.

I’ve learned a lot this time around, more about query letters and writing a Synopsis. Needless to say, it’s been a long and involved process, and I’m both tired and excited. Oh and very, very, very, very nervous.

This time I have my act together, I’ve had my first 50 pages polished, my synopsis perfected and my query letter hammered out and ready to go. I have my handy dandy spreadsheet ready to keep track, and I’m using Query Tracker as well. I’ve already composed a few queries and bravely hit the send button, so I can now wait. 1 to 8 weeks is the standard.

Well, I have some blogs to write about all the things I’ve done and learned through this process. There are still a few details I need to work on in the manuscript. Exciting times are here for me.

Thank you to all who are following my journey.

-Sheryl

Re-assessing The Value

A while ago I read something that really stuck with me. I can’t for the life of me remember where I read it so I’m paraphrasing instead of quoting. It was in regards to Literary agent rejections. It went something like this;

“But you didn’t even read the whole thing. You only read the first 50 pages. It’ gets really good in chapter eight.”
The advice: “Then start the book in chapter five.”

As a writer I know how difficult it is to hear that maybe, just maybe some fat needs to be trimmed. For months now this advice has been rattling around in my brain as I worked on other projects. So I asked a couple of people who’ve read my book and I was surprised to hear that the first chapter was awesome, but it got slow until about chapter…. wait for it… chapter five. Huh.

I thought I was done, that it was perfect.(Well I know there is always room for improvement)

Now I’m not about to axe it all. Because there is some character building and significant foreshadowing going on in chapters 2 through 5. But. And that is a big huge ‘But’, what if I can trim it down? I started thinking and pondering the “What if I did?” and “Can I?” and most importantly “How?”

The answer to the can I is yes. Why not? The how is easy, just give it a try. So I took a copy of my book and saved it as “Rewrite”. I pulled out my proverbial axe and really started to question what was filler and what was necessary.

Another quote/advice I got (I can’t supply the source for) said; “Make each word count.”  I know I’m wordy, and I work to keep myself in check.

I decided to set my ego aside and take a good strong objective look at the content of each sentence, the necessity of each paragraph. But guess what I found? Filler. Lots of it. Not only filler, but I found repetition. I was saying the same thing over only differently to hammer home a concept/idea/description. I pursed my lips and re-read it. Did I really? Yes I did.

Now this is a big step for me. Something I thought I already conquered. I opened my mind to the possibility that less is more and started re-thinking things. What is necessary to the story and what is not? I was surprised to realize that with one or two small changes, the story would become more streamline. More pleasant to read. Now, I have gotten rave reviews from those that previewed it and I’m not taking anything important away nor the charm of the story. I know what they liked about it and that will stay.

As I work through it all, I’ve taken out my handy-dandy calendar of events and my charts and bio’s of the characters and started changing things. I was pleasantly surprised to discover I was able to take out a lot by changing a little and I did not compromise the story at all.

I talked it over with someone who read the story and he gave me his summary. What he skipped I examined closely. Then after thinking about it I asked what he thought if I removed a few aspects and he said; “That part was good but hard to read, so yeah it would be better without.” At this point I was ready for the criticism and instead of feeling bad or like a failure, I realized there was opportunity to improve.

In two days I took out over 6700 words. If you know my word-count struggle, this is epic. The best advice I got was, if you can keep the word-count closer to the minimum vs. the maximum allowable word count for a genre, then a Literary Agent is more likely to look at it.

I’m not second guessing my work or myself. What I’m doing, after months of contemplation, advice and feedback, is re-assessing the value of the ‘boring parts’ or the filler and repetitious clutter.

This was my first of many books written. I’d be a fool to think it’s perfect, but it will be. I’ve had a lot of time to hone my skills and learn a lot more about writing since completing BiaAtlas. I’m excited to say it’s starting to look better, the story is moving faster and there is less unnecessary filler clogging up the works.  It can be daunting to write a story, let alone rewrite it completely. I’m approaching this logically, whit a plan and a level of excitement that is pushing me forward. I’m amazed at how fun it is to take something I worked hard on and give it a literary make over.

My advice about starting where it gets good.
Don’t shun the idea, don’t stress about cutting things out. Take the time to rearrange and try a new approach. If you don’t like it you still have the original. 

-Sheryl

Other related posts

Word swap

The ups and downs of writing

TMI dude!

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Maze

The Aftermath Of Rejection

Writing a story is an investment. Of time, energy, heart, soul and everything a writer has to offer. We put it all into our work and it’s hard when it doesn’t meet expectations and is rejected.

I’m going, to be honest, it is very hard to be told no, over and over and over again. Every single rejection brings a deflating wave of disappointment down on me. Sometimes I feel fragile and shattered by the mass amount of no’s. The key is to let it go. Move on and forward. I expect rejections and I’m not bitter about it. It does suck no matter how I look at it or feel about it. I just refuse to let it stop me from trying again. When I started this journey I told myself that there was only one outcome, being traditionally published. I plan to do whatever I have to do to get there. I have a fantastic support network of family and friends that believe in me and offer the encouragement needed to get through the vast swamp of no’s.

I’ve talked about this before, but since it’s part of my daily life I’m talking about it again. Only this time what do I do when I’ve been rejected 100%? First, I look at the possible and most likely reasons my Query was declined.

  1. The agent is busy and I suspect didn’t actually read my query
  2. My query letter wasn’t good enough
  3. There’s too much competition (There always will be, I tell myself to get over it)
  4. My synopsis wasn’t gripping enough
  5. My hook wasn’t as hook like as it could be.
  6. The agent isn’t actually open (Even though they say they are)
  7. There are errors that may need addressing (Grammar, structure, flow, etc.)
  8. My story isn’t good enough. (Yes it is. Never believe your story isn’t good- I dismiss this thought as soon as it pops in my head.)
  9. I’m not a good writer. (Again I dismiss this one too. I am and will only succeed if I don’t give in or give up.)
  10. There are too many queries out there to get noticed (This is a numbers game where persistence will pay off)

Regardless of the potential possibilities I must be open to suggestion and set my ego aside. I will go through each and take the time to ask, can it be better? THe answer is yes.

SO what do I do about it?

  1. I buy/read books on query letters, synopsis writing and open my mind to the possibility that I’m not perfect and there is room for improvement. If I’m rejected 100% over 300 times, then something needs tweaking or fixing.
  2. I look at my notes on the agents and agencies before querying again. (This is a big task and I use spreadsheets to keep track)
  3. Professional editing is always an option (unfortunately it’s also expensive so I do my best to work through it myself.)
  4. I set my work aside for a while before looking at it again. Proximity can be blinding. 
  5. I never give up. I know what I want and I’m going to get there. Even when it feels insurmountable, I never stop trying. 
  6. I get others to read my work and ask for honest opinions. Sometimes, ah who am I kidding, all the time, criticism is hard to hear. But if I’m not willing to listen then I’ll never get my end goal of traditional publishing.  This is the hardest to do and I’ve taken some, sulked and over time mulled it over and found solid advice/reasoning and finally use it to move forward.
  7. I talk to others in the same situation and those that have succeeded. Jealousy will get me nowhere, petty thoughts of ‘why did they get published and not me?’ are dangerous and won’t help.
  8. Keep my mind open to possibilities and change

Although I’ve had well over 300 rejections in my last round of queries I know I need to keep at it. I will revise my query letter, synopsis and try again. I’m also in the process of finding out how to better tailor each and every query to better my chances of getting noticed. There is one thing I’m doing that is huge, but I’ll discuss this another time.

My advice about the aftermath of rejection.
The entire process is an emotional battle field. No matter how carefully you plan your attack and defenses there will be a struggle, loss, pain, highs, lows, frustration, and elation, before you win the battle. The only way there is to never stop trying.

-Sheryl

Other related posts.

Keeping Track

Rejected

Tricky Little Non-Rejection

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

 Bitter
Tailor

“Who’s Talking?”

I’m continuing on my dialogue punctuation quest. My goal is to hopefully see less of these simple, yet easy to make errors. Ones I know I myself have done in my typing haste, but hopefully catch them when editing and revising. I’d like to remind you that I’m not at all a professional, I never profess to be. I’m just me, a writer on the quest to have my books published. The fact that I even say books (As in plural) is amazing to me. Along the way, I’ve had to research and learn and discover new things in all aspects of writing, editing, revising and the quest to land a Literary agent and hopefully a publishing contract. Through this, I try to read and explore things, subjects and styles I’ve never tried or learned before.

I certainly hope my dear followers/readers don’t feel belittled by my tips and advice. I figure if the information/reminder/lesson is good for me, then it’s likely to be helpful to others.

Now on to today’s topic. Multiple lines of dialogue. Yup, generally when people talk there is more than one person participating. Unless you’re crazy like I am and talk to yourself. “Say what?” Oh boy I have some interesting conversations with me.

When writing dialogue (My favourite subject) Always start a new paragraph for a new speaker. This keeps the text easy to read and follow. It is crazy kinds of frustrating to have no idea who’s speaking or to have to sift through the dialogue to figure out who’s talking.

Example time:

Incorrect:

“Hey Amber,” Dale smiled. “How’s it going?” He put his hand on her back. “Really good today. Didn’t barf once, I don’t feel sick at all and for once I didn’t wake up already knackered.” Amber grinned and shook her hands excitedly. Dale hugged her tight.
“That’s a relief.” She squeezed back. “I’m so happy.” He said.

Oh my… What? Yes, believe it or not I’ve slogged through dialogue like this. What happens? I stop reading after cringing and becoming frustrated. This rule applies even if one of the speakers doesn’t speak.

Correct:

“Hey Amber,” Dale smiled. “How’s it going?” He put his hand on her back.

“Really good today. Didn’t barf once, I don’t feel sick at all and for once I didn’t already wake up knackered.” Amber grinned and shook her hands excitedly.

Dale hugged her tight. “That’s a relief.”

She squeezed back.

“I’m so happy.” He said.

OR (Single or double spaced is a personal preference. But the industry standard is double) If you go single, it’s very important to make sure each character starts talking on their own line.

Correct:
“Really good today. Didn’t barf once and I don’t feel sick at all.” Amber grinned and shook her hands excitedly.

Dale hugged her tight. “That’s a relief.”
She squeezed back.
“I’m so happy.” He said.

That was a great deal easier to read and understand who says what and how.

Dialogue doesn’t have to be hard, and as always it should have a point and not just be pointless conversation. People don’t want to read that, they can just go to work/school/home and live it… sigh. Readers want the juicy bits, the parts that carry and take the story forward. The parts that deliver the goods and not the stuff that drives a word count up for the sake of it.

My advice about Paragraphing Dialogue.
Um… you sort of have to so the readers can tell who’s talking. Well I suppose you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, but don’t be surprised if the reactions are not what you hoped for.

-Sheryl

Other dialogue related posts

Creative Dialogue Tags

Tag! You’re it.

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Knackered

Rejected

Rejected again and again and again.  I’m almost at the end of my latest round of queries and alas all rejections.

Being rejected is such a personal thing. It goes right to your soul and chips away instilling doubt and depressive emotions. That’s natural. Nobody likes to be told no or they’re not good enough. However in this industry it’s sadly common to be rejected and struggle to get noticed.

I queried 125 agents on the last go.

41 sent rejection emails. All of them but one was a cookie cutter generic cut and paste insult to my effort.

45 have done nothing whatsoever.

5 are in limbo and still waiting to expire.

Within that 125

42 of them responded with an auto responded to let me know they got the query.

34 of them listed an expiry date and let it expire without any formal rejection. This is the agents way of not bothering at all. There is no way to know if they even read the query letter.

Each agency have their set of rules for querying and within in them each agent has their own requests/requirements/rules.  Basically it is an effort to apply to each agent. When I get nothing or the form rejection it’s a bit insulting and unfair. IMO.

I’m in the process of polishing my new first chapter rewrite and once that’s done and all the queries have expired I plan to try again. Many now famous authors took years to get published so expecting to land a deal right away would be setting myself up for disappointment.

The truth is that literary agents are busy, too busy. Even if they say they are open to queries I’ve found many of them say they are not in their rejection letter. They all say, in one way or another, “not a good fit for me” or “I don’t represent your genre”  All if it’s funny since they specifically say what they are looking for. And yes many of them have ‘assistants’ that preview the query for them and “reject” on their behalf. So I’m not even getting to the actual mystical freaking unicorn agents.

Regardless I’ll keep trying. Giving up isn’t an option and someday BiaAtlas will be published. Since my last round of queries I’ve learned enough to know how to proceed this third time. It’s a lot of work but I know it will be worth it. Some day I know my query will make it past the slush pile and actually read. One of these days I’ll open an email with an acceptance… a request for more information. *Sighs wistfully…*

While all this is going on in the background I’ve started a new book series and have been having some struggles with it that I’ll probably blog about later. For now I head out to work, where I’ll run through plot ideas for my new book as I wait for customers to come in.

My advice about rejection and agents.
They do what they do and well. They are worth the effort getting to. Have a lovely day everyone and remember, giving up is like sending out a “form” rejection letter. You deserve better.

-Sheryl

Other related posts (Judging by this rejection is a hot topic of mine)

Tricky Little Non-Rejection

Keeping Track

The many faces of Rejection

Rejecting the rejected

The rejection letter

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

Acceptance

Testing the waters

When I put my work out to the world I expect some people to respond. That response can be greatly varied from super negative and overwhelming to ultra positive and everywhere in between. Sometimes the feedback is just fluff, hate or nonsense. However, sometimes there is constructive elements to it.

It may not always be obvious. As I’m getting more and more no’s from my queries I start to wonder. Why? Sure there are the variables I’ve discussed such as the slush pile syndrome, to the agents being too busy or not actually open to queries (even though they say they are) or they’re not the right agent for the story. Whatever that may be, there are a great deal of reasons.

Keeping a positive outlook is hard to do. Still I strive to look forward to possibilities not back at what didn’t happen.

Yes I’m getting to a point. With so much negative response it’s easy to question myself and my work. It’s going to happen that is human nature. So what do I do about it? I look at it objectively. I try to recognize the criticism as constructive no matter what. There is no place for mega ego here that will get me nowhere. Since the first chapter is what all agents are looking at perhaps there is something amiss. I’m not going to say wrong but I have to be open to the possibility that it’s not quite right.

I’m not saying that it’s time to panic or second guess myself at all. Just that I’m aware. If I send out 300 queries and they all say no perhaps something needs to change. While the end of my query quest is far from the end i have a long way to go I’m looking forward and preparing for the possibility that I need to be objective and make a change.

This is where an outside perspective might help, but only if they can be honest and I’m not going to freak out. I won’t, I’m a fairly level-headed person.

So I looked at the first chapter and I looked at the tone, perspective and over all feel. While I love it and its perfect IMO, if I’m honest it has a slight military feel to it. Huh. Not at all what the story is about nor what I meant. However the method of the main character in that situation definitely comes across as military or police. Then I realized something. The first chapter POV is following the secondary not the main character. Hmmm… So my solution is to re-write the first chapter. Maybe once, maybe a few times with a couple different approaches. This for me will be a good way to see if the POV is what might be tripping up the agents.

There is no harm to do this because it’s just one chapter, that incidentally came after the book was written. This does not mean I’m scrapping what I wrote, just testing the waters to see if I got the tone or feel of the chapter off because of the perspective.

To be honest I’m a bit excited to try out a few other angles for the first chapter to the book. Since I’ve written a few more books that follow it, the opportunity to get it perfect, to craft the perfect version of the introduction.

My advice about being open to feedback.
Whatever the form it comes in don’t take it too personally, but don’t dismiss it altogether. It’s an opportunity to see potential if you’re open-minded about it.

-Sheryl

Other posts that are more fun than this one. 😉

It’s really very unnecessary

The jerk-face warrior

Bacon, Banter and Coffee

Missing body parts

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Overwhelming
Recognize
Craft

Keeping Track

It’s no secret that I’ve been querying agents like a mad woman hoping one will nibble and ask for more materials.

While the no’s pile up and the rejection letters pour in I will keep moving forward until I’ve exhausted every possible agent out there.

But with so many queries going out how do I keep track of them?  A spreadsheet is my first go to. There is a website called QueryTracker.net that a fellow blogger introduced me to and it is really cool, except if you want the ‘full’ experience and access to all their features you have to pay.  I’m frugal so I use their free service and still use my own method of tracking.

I try to keep it simple and clear so I can easily see what’s going on and as I update it’s not a pain in the ass. This spreadsheet did not start off this detailed. As I’ve gone along I’ve added, removed and changed columns. I use colour to help visualize important information as well. I’ll add more colour indicators if I need to keep an eye on something specific.

What I like to keep track of:

Date Submitted:  the date I submitted the query to the agent. This is important
The number:  I just like to know how many submissions I’ve done
The Email: Only if I emailed one specific or if It was listed on the online form
Agent: It is important to know which agent I’ve queried and when so I don’t repeat them.
Agency: This one is important so I don’t query any agency while an active query is                                   pending
Website: This way I can quick refer to their site if I need to.
What was submitted: Each agent/agency has different requirements. I like to keep track
               Q – Sent them a query letter
               S – Sent them a Synopsis (will indicate in notes if full chapter synopsis)
               Pages/Chapters how much of the manuscript did they ask for? blank=none
               Online form Used online form not email. no O means it was sent by email
Query Time Limit: Most agents/agencies will give timeline in days,weeks, months. Some                                          don’t and will say no response equals a NO.  I give these ones a generic                                        eight week expiry.
Expiry: This is important for me. I use timeanddate.com to determine when the query                          expired. A preemptive No automatically expires the query.
Expired: I like to make it obvious to myself when a Query has expired so I can move on.
Confirmation received: Some agencies will confirm they’ve received the query. It’s nice to                                                know they got it. (Don’t pester them if you don’t get one unless                                                      they specifically say to.)
Response:  Yes? No? No response? This is important to keep track of so I don’t break any                            rules. It also shows which agents didn’t bother to respond if the query expires.                        I make sure to highlight the entire line in red if I get a no, and in orange if it                                simply expired.
Notes: Some agencies have very specific rules or requests. THis is a good place to put this                   information. Also if an agency says No and NOT to contact any other agents. You                     dont want to be a jerk.

Here is what a snip-it of my spreadsheet looks like for ten agents (No these are not real listings and the real list is well over a hundred)query-listHere is a close up of what that form looks like. I hope you can see it better. If you want a file example contact me by email (in the contact me section of my blog) and I’ll email you this sample in excel format.

query-list-close-up

I’m sure there are ways to track more efficiently such as using Query tracker, but I’m not a fan of paying for something I can do myself with a bit of effort. I still use query tracker’s free service in conjunction with my spreadsheet. I have over a 120 queries out in the slush land of hopefulness. So keeping track of what’s out there is important. If an agency says only query one agent at a time and I screw up they will reject any and all future queries. Yikes!

My advice about tracking Queries.
DO IT!  don’t rely on emails or memory to remember who you’ve queried and not. What ever way you keep track, make sure you do. It’s also better to start the list immediately or if you haven’t, get one done asap. 

-Sheryl

Other posts that might be more fun than this one was

Building chemistry

Inviting innuendo

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Ten

The many faces of Rejection

I hunkered down and put out over 100 agent queries. The odds are I will get a lot of rejection with that much exposure. All it takes is one yes and even if I get 100 rejections I’ll keep trying.

What is interesting about being rejected by Literary agents is the way they do it.

For the majority it’s  a standard form email. A cut and paste that is the same for every rejection they send. Sure it sort of sounds personal because they assure me they read and considered my work seriously.  There’s no way to know for sure one way or the other. I’ve even gotten “Dear author”. This is interesting because the general rule is to not blanket submit, to personalize each submission to the agent you’re querying.

Some, much fewer than most will send a short blurb to tell me no.  The shortest being only three words.  “We’ll pass thanks.” to a nice explanation of why they didn’t like my writing or story. A stab to the heart, but at least I know they read it.

Then there are the no shows. The agents that post an expiry. If after *X* weeks you don’t hear from me consider that a no. The true mystery. Did they read it at all?  Maybe.

Agents are busy, very busy with submissions and queries. I’ve been told over and over to just keep positive and understand that they have something called a slush pile. Where some queries never make it out of and are never even touched because they are overworked.

Rejection letters are like little passive aggressive slaps to the ego. They sound so polite, so nice and even complementary. They often have words of encouragement all the while telling you you’re not good enough for them, but maybe someone else… It’s kind of funny in a weird way. Like they take some positive encouragement, wrap it around the negative message then dip it in a bath of false positivity before shoving it my way.

Here’s and example of a somewhat personal “you suck” letter.

Dear Sheryl –

Thank you for thinking of me in your search for representation. I appreciate you sharing your work with me. However, after taking a closer look I don’t feel that this project is a good fit for my list, so I’m going to have to pass.

Please keep in mind that this is a very subjective business, and mine is only one opinion.

Best Wishes,
~M

Here is an example of one that is a complete cut and paste letter:

Dear Author:

 Thank you for allowing me to consider your work. Unfortunately, this particular project is just not right for me.

 I wish you all the best in your literary endeavors.

 Sincerely,
C

Here’s an example of a cut and paste that has a flair of ‘personal’ to it:

Dear Author,

Thanks so much for letting us take a look at your materials, and please forgive me for responding with a formletter.  The volume of submissions we receive, however, makes it impossible to correspond with everyone personally.

Unfortunately, the project you describe does not suit our list at this time.  We wish you the best of luck in finding an agent and publisher for your work, and we thank you, once again, for letting us consider your materials.

Sincerely,
D

And last but not least the fancy one that sounds personalized but is not likely: (Notice the lack of any address, no dear…) Oh and they are too busy…

Thanks for your interest in our agency.  Unfortunately you’ve caught me at a time when the demands of my current clients leave me with very little time to devote to exploring new talent and unfortunately in this case I have to pass on the opportunity to pursue this.  I am being extremely picky so please seek many opinions since my decision may have little to do with the salability of your work.

Sincerely,
R

With many of the responses I can see that even if an agent is listed as open, they may not be. I’ve had a few letters say they are too busy to take on more projects. Or perhaps they just aren’t a fit for my work. That makes sense, not everyone likes every style of writing. The bottom line is this process will either make or break me as a writer. I’ll either take it personally and run for the hills or I’ll keep slogging on and pushing forward through the stacks of no’s until I find that glorious endangered species of a yes.

I think I’ll take the hard road, and keep searching for the yes for as long as I have to.

My advice about being rejected over and over.
It’s a numbers game that requires persistence and the toughening of skin. It’s by no means easy to be pummeled with so many no’s daily. i think a line from one of my favorite movie(Galaxy Quest) is in order here.  “Never give up, never surrender!”

-Sheryl

Other rejection posts

The rejection letter

Rejecting the rejected

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Overworked
Exposure