Query Quandary

Query Quandary.png

Query Quandary

I think I’m ready to query. Now what?

Okay here is the checklist I use of what needs to be done before a query is attempted. (This list is a suggestion not a hard list of rules to follow.)

  1. Write a book within proper word range for genre and industry standard formatting
  2. Rest said book for minimum 3 weeks to freshen up your brain
  3. Edit, revise, rewrite and repeat with rests between
  4. Revise again
  5. Find reliable and interested beta readers (readers not critique partners)
  6. Revise with notes from beta readers
  7. Find one or two critique partners to go through with a critical eye.
    1. Make sure you make clear what you want them to look for
  8. Revise again with notes from critique partner/s
  9. Final grammar and format check
  10. Write a kick-ass query letter using industry standard formats.
  11. Write a boring, but perfect synopsis(yes this is the entire plot as it happens)
  12. Have your query letter and synopsis critiqued (You can get a professional editor for a query package critique as well. I did and it was worth every dollar)
  13. Research agents who represent your genre. Do not query agents who do not. It is a waste of time and often a no from one agent is a no from all within that agency.
  14. Follow all and EVERY rule by the agency and or agent you are querying. They are all different.
  15. Research the agent to personalize the query letter. Never send a query letter without at least addressing the agent you are querying.

Whew. Now once all that is done, it’s time to send out a query.

This is one of the hardest things to do. Sending a query to an agent is nervewracking. Will they request pages? Will they send a rejection? Or nothing at all?

Waiting for a response is hard. Rejections are harder. However, a rejection doesn’t mean you should give up. keep going and keep querying.

I did have a string of form rejections—a standardized generic email saying no thank you. As mentioned in my previous post, I pulled the manuscript and reevaluated.

Getting a block of rejections might be a sign that something is wrong with the manuscript. It could also be the query letter. Or it might just be that the agents are not interested. Don’t despair, seek alternate opinions or have a query package critique done by someone in the business. It is rare to get query feedback from agents. if you get some, it’s golden and don’t ignore it. If you don’t that’s okay too. Move on.

  • Never reply rudely to agents who send you a rejection(yes, people do this)
  • Always keep track of who you’ve queried either by spreadsheet or Query Tracker
  • Only send a nudge or reminder to the agent if their response time has passed and they don’t have a disclaimer stating “No response is a no.”

Agents are busy people and get hundreds and thousands of queries. I try to keep in mind they are probably reading your query on their phone while in line for coffee or at lunch.

Advice: The query process can be stressful, seek out friends and fellow authors in the query trenches for support and encouragement. Block. mute and ignore anyone who is negative, tells you to give up and go a different route or tell you that you’re never going to get there. The people trying to bring you down are only right if you let them be right.

 

“Write what you love, and others will love what you write.”
-SL.Mumby

What’s The Query Hurry?
What's The Query Hurry_

What’s The Query Hurry?

What's The Query Hurry_.pngWhat’s The Query Hurry?

I’m getting close to jumping head first into the query trenches again. I had pulled Prophecy Ink when I got a bunch of form rejections. That was a sign that something wasn’t right.

But what? Was it the query letter? The Synopsis? Or the sample pages? Yes. Yes to all three.

I was in a hurry to query. Excited to get my baby out there. I had done everything I could think of to get it ready.

Except that I hadn’t.

I did revise, rewrite, and edit the heck out of it. I ran it through grammar programs and editing programs, and it was as polished as I could get it.

I had to swallow my excitement, disappointment, and pride and seek out honest opinions. I paid for a professional query package critique.

IT WAS AWESOME! I asked for brute honesty, not to hold back and it came back with (and I’m paraphrasing) “Nothing happens in the first chapter, the MC (the main character) does nothing and wanders about aimlessly. Make her have a purpose.” That comment and a whole lot of editing notes and I was floored. The query letter needed some adjustments and the synopsis some alterations, but they were in decent shape.

I had merged chapter one and two(after some feedback), and she was right. The merger caused the MC to lose purpose, and she wandered about for no reason. Damn.

Okay. Here’s the thing. I was ready for a hard truth. I got it, and I was thrilled! Now I know what’s wrong. I research how to fix what’s wrong, and I rewrite again. Tossing the chapter out and trying four different approaches until one screamed: “I’m perfect!”

So. I did some more research and decided I needed some random opinions. I reached out to my twitter tribe (people who I know are bound to be brutally honest and helpful), and I asked for help critiquing or beta reading my new chapter. Boom! So many wonderful Tweeps offered help. I didn’t agree to just anyone if I’d never interacted before, I said no thanks. It’s okay to do that, BTW. I got the feedback from them, and there was a unanimous response of positivity. Small issues easily addressed.

So now what?

I took my query letter to a workshop for querying, and I paid again to have my new chapter(10 pages) my revised query letter and synopsis re-critiqued. And the response was favorable. “Much better.”

Yes!

But I didn’t jump back in. I had a few lovely people offer to critique the entire book. I was getting feedback on every chapter. Now some critique partners petered out and stopped sending feedback, this happens for various reasons. Busy schedules, lack of interest in the story, too much obligation, forgot, or even jealousy. Whatever the case, I didn’t sweat it, and I never harassed for feedback. It was kind of them to offer any at all, so I gladly took what I could get.

With the new feedback, I toned up my book and ironed out the wrinkles.

I’m on the last final revision, and then I’ll query again.

It’s taken months to get it back into shape. There is no hurry to query. I learned that rushing only gets rejections and I wouldn’t have learned how to not only recognize a problem, but I’d have missed how to fix it.

I’ll talk about what I’m doing to prepare for the actual queries next time.

My advice about hurrying to query: Don’t. Slow down, take your time. It’s a lengthy, extraneous process, and rushing will only end in disappointment and regret.

 

“Write what you love, and others will love what you write.”
-SL.Mumby

June Daily 2019https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2019/06/26/your-daily-word-prompt-extraneous-june-26-2019/

Giving And Taking Trust

trust.pngGiving And Taking Trust

Trust can be tricky, and as a writer, I find my self relying on my instinct more and more. Instinct and advice. I’ve had some advice given to me lately and some that I’ve learned on my own regarding trust.

It can be a challenge knowing who to trust, whose advice to trust and when to trust others with your writing. Because sadly, there are people out there that will steal and or destroy confidences.

Always trust your gut and test the waters.

When it comes to finding a Critique Partner or finding a Beta Reader, you need to trust the person you hand your story over to. That said, don’t just hand it over to just anyone. Talk with them a bit first, start off with a short story, poem, query letter or something simple. I never hand my story or synopsis over to anyone I don’t trust. It’s not perfect but knowing will reduce the chance of someone posting your work online without permission.

The same thing goes for services like editing and paid critiques. If the person doesn’t have samples(and even if they do), you can ask for a sample of how they would edit your work by having the first page or two done before agreeing to work with them. This is key, there is nothing worse than paying for a service, technically getting what you paid for only to find out it’s not how you wanted the editing done.

What about advice? I dole out advice and my opinion all the time, I even get paid to do it. Does that make me a professional? Not really. Does it make me right all the time? Ha, no of course not. Nobody can be right all the time. All my advice and information I share is what I’ve learned along the way. Sure it changes and shifts, and I even find better advice, but I never claim to be the be-all-and-end-all of writing wisdom.

Writing advice, (Including publishing, editing, and revising) is all subjective. What works for some may not work for others. That said, never ignore advice, rules, tips, tricks, hints, or anything that others offer. Listen to it and use your instinct to determine if it works for you or not. Taking a poll online to credit or discredit advice given may help, but I see more often than not, it will bring out three types of people/answers.

• Yes! Brilliant advice. Do this, you’re a fool to do otherwise.

• No way! Do the exact opposite, you’re a fool to do otherwise.

• Do what works best for you. (probably suggest to research or read articles)

People are strongly opinionated(No matter the facts) and the majority vote might not even be right. Know your audience, who is giving the advice, find a source from reputable websites to find more information and most of all, trust your instinct.

When in doubt, seek the advice of an industry-specific individual. Peruse blogs of people with credentials and experience. I spend a lot of time researching topics and information for my story, and I wouldn’t cheat myself by taking fly-by-night advice without further researching on my own before(if ever) asking strangers on Facebook or Twitter.

I always do my best to present information with an unbiased approach, after researching and often after finding out the hard way. I’ll never lead anyone astray on purpose for some hidden jealousy-based agenda. Ask me a question, and I’ll answer to the best of my abilities, if I don’t know, I’ll probably research and offer up some articles. Why? Because that’s what I’d want. I want people who ask me questions to feel they can trust me to be as honest as I can.

 

“Write what you love, and others will love what you write.”
-SL.Mumby

June Daily 2019https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2019/06/11/your-daily-word-prompt-trust-june-11-2019/