The Querying Show, Episode 2- The First Rejection

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Welcome to The Querying Show’s First Episode!

Each week for the next six months you will witness every juicy (or completely stagnant) detail of our SP Staff Member’s querying life in the SLUSH PILE!

(Check out our rules and reasons in our intro post here!)

Will CR’s/Write_Or_Left achieve AGENT success? Or will it result with a querying and MS reboot? Dying to know? Follow us to see how Write_Or_Left ‘s querying journey will end up!

Today is the 2nd week of CR’s journey. Let’s check in our with brave querying fellow and see how things are progressing. (Click below for Episode 1.)

SP: Greetings, CR/Write_Or_Left. Lets start with the STATS. How many more queries have you sent out? Anything you can tell us about how you selected them?

CR/Write_Or_Left:  I met my goal this week! I sent out five queries, and in true writer fashion, two of them were sent about half an hour ago! Still, I’ll count my wins where I can get them. 

I selected the agents based on the books they already rep, the size of their agency, and their personality. I’m looking for someone who is looking for a Middle-Grade Fantasy Adventure series, so that narrows it down. I want a good balance of new agencies and established ones, which means I’ll skip over some agents a time if I’ve already sent too many to agencies around their size. But the most important thing to me is personality. I read a lot of interviews, and if I like their style, I’ll send it to them!

SP: We know its early–Querying the SLUSH can be painfully SLOW– but, we’re all eager to know–

Any Requests?

No requests, sadly.

Rejections?

Two rejections! My first two ever! Horray?

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Feedback?

One reason I got for the rejection was, “We’re not connecting with the manuscript as much as we would have hoped.” I’m hoping that means they personally didn’t connect and not that my characters aren’t as sympathetic as they need to be. I’ll reevaluate once I’ve gotten more responses! 

(If you got a rejection, how did it feel? 

CR/Write_Or_Left: The first one was actually really encouraging! The rejection started with, “While you’re clearly a very talented writer…” I knew it was going to be a rejection right then, but I didn’t really care. It was my first one ever, and it was enough just to feel like a real writer. And on top of that, they thought I was talented!

The second rejection was a bit of a let-down. It was a very generic and impersonal rejection, so I kind of just shrugged and moved on with my day.

SP: What have you learned so far?

A few things already.  First, there’s a lot of really good competition out there. I’ve been reading example queries by the dozen, and let me tell you, some people have this down to a science. They’ve got the perfect hook, summary, and twist. Not only that, but their stories are so fresh, so original, it makes me want to request their full MS just so I can read it!

I’ve also seen some pretty staggering statistic. One of the agents I’m looking to query said she received 36,000 queries last year alone. She accepted one. ONE! That’s insane!

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SP: In the writing community, it’s not uncommon to start querying and constantly refresh your browser to see if anyone has replied. Have you fallen into that querying habit already?

Surprisingly not! As a junior at University in a relatively tough major, I stay busy enough to keep my brain occupied. But I will admit, every time I get an email that’s not from my school, my pulse will double, and I’ll drop everything I’m doing and quickly scan the subject line to see if it’s a response.

SP: Meanwhile, what is keeping you busy? Are you still editing? Working on something new?

Like I said before, school is pretty much the dominating force in my life. I study Software Engineering (if you’re thinking about it, really think some more before you choose it), and on top of that, I’m an RA on campus.

But when I’m not busy with responsibilities, I’m querying and planning book 2 in-depth. I have the main story of the whole series fleshed out, but I’m trying to get into the details of the sequel so I can start writing it!

SP: Alright, well, thanks for being so honest with us! We’ll check in next week!

READERS– What do you want to know from CR?

Do you want to read his QUERY?

Do you want to know what he eats for breakfast? (lol) ASK US!

Querying TIP of the Week:

READ lots of queries before you write (or while you are writing) yours. Check them out on YA Highway, Query Shark, or personal Writer’s blogs. Get other writers to read them before you send. 

Episode 1

 

Nova and CR/Write_Or_Left, signing off!

 

 

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The Querying Show – A Fishtank View of SP Staff Member Querying

Pen Friends ~

Did you know that the success rate through querying through the slush pile is less than 1%? Does anyone else feel intimidated by this number?

How would you like to see an up close & personal FISH TANK view of one of our staff members querying in the slush pile? Witness his joy of requests and his disappointment of rejections? Witness him get an agent or end in utter despair? (Lol. Sorry.  We’re more hopeful than that.)

At The Spinning Pen most of us are part of private writing groups that share our querying (and submission) ups and downs. We journey together until that special day of celebration comes when we signed with an agent or editor or publisher! Often, without our group’s support, encouragement, answering questions, and persevering alongside each other, it would have been a lot harder.

So we thought, What if we journey with you all? LIVE. WEEKLY. WE’LL BE OPEN. VULNERABLE. EMBARRASSED. CELEBRATE. Together?

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Our staff member, Write_Or_Left (that’s his IG account, find him!) is ready to start his querying journey and volunteered for the job. Yay! (Thanks for being so brave, CR!)

So here’s the plan:

Each week for the next six months Write_Or_Left will update us with his status:

  1. # of queries he sent that week
  2. # of Rejections.
  3. #of Requests.
  4. Mistakes? Feedback?
  5. Querying Tips
  6. Feelings. Process.
  7. Questions & Go to’s.
  8. Celebrations.

*At the end of six months, we will review what he has learned. If feedback clearly shows he needs to reevaluate his MS or Query, then he will. But what if he gets an AGENT?? Only those who journey with us will know.

Here are the rules:

  1. All of the agents we query are AWESOME. We will keep them private. We will never name the agent or say negative things about them. We applaud them for their hardworking job and taking the time to look at the slush pile! *So please, no slamming agents on our site!
  2. We are here to encourage & inspire & support writers! Ask us questions!
  3. We will give you helpful resources for querying!
  4. You can share your journey with us in the comments!

 

***Anything we need to add? Tell us in the comments!

The 1st Querying Show begins this Friday! See you then!

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nova-leaning shotYour SP Querying Show host, Nova McBee & The Querying Show Guinea Pig, CR / Write_or_Leftprofile

 

How I Got My Agent, Guest Post by Ellen McGinty

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Lately, a lot of my friends are doing these “I got an agent” posts. I love hearing their stories. But if you haven’t got there. If your critique partners haven’t got there. It’s OKAY. Where is “there” anyway?

Go climb mountains.

Tear down lies.

Celebrate life NOW.

And yes, I can say that with two kids under five, hay fever stalking my house, and depression howling like the wind. This is a journey. It’s a loooong one and I need lembas bread, not just potatoes.

WRITING THE BOOK

It took me years to write my first book, THE WATER CHILD. I wrote chapter by chapter and revised the plot umpteenth times before it was right. SCWBI, critique partners and amazing sensitivity readers encouraged me, many urging me to query. Of course, there was also hard feedback, things I had to change and consider. Places I had to stand my ground. But I grew as a writer and as a person.

Along the way I learned one key thing: Self-pity and excuses waste a lot of time.

Truth is, I have enough time every day – but I have to choose what to do with it. I am responsible for my writing, no one else, and certainly not the ticking clock. At the same time, I’m not superwoman, so I’m learning to practice self-care and seek help when needed.

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QUERY

My First Conference.

My First Query (I think – I wasn’t keeping track at the beginning!)

Like any proper introvert, I tip-toed into my first writing conference. I hid myself in a corner during the session breaks to scribble story ideas instead of mingle. But, I’d signed up for a query and first chapter critique with an agent.

The agent didn’t smile. She leaned across the table with my precious pages in hand.

My back pressed against the conference chair, too-stiff, nervous. I think she hates it.

“Your query is crap,” she said.

Yep, she hates it.

“And I want to see the full manuscript. I’m getting drinks later, come and we can chat about your book.”

Shock – a lot of it. The agent bought my dinner, offered pointers on query and character, and introduced me to publishing friends. It was my first conference and I felt like a little peon accidentally invited to a ball. A not-so-conventional introduction to querying.

From there, I queried about 30 agents. In retrospect, I began querying my novel too early. It was my first completed manuscript and I didn’t know much. But about half of the queries resulted in requests for fulls or partials. I’ve heard those are good stats, but at the time I found it confusing. Why the interest? And what was missing?

I stepped back to revise with feedback and then tried again. But this time, with contests!

PitchWars: I didn’t get in, but I met the wonderful Jess Calla who encouraged me and believed in my story. She also introduced me to the Writer Twitter Sphere. Hurray!

PitchSlam: I revamped my query and found the true heart of my story. This resulted in an overwhelming number of requests but my story was still missing something…

Pitch2Publication: editor Lindsey Schlegel suggested I write a prologue. Something I’d always opposed but after I wrote it, I LOVED it! I met some of the most amazing writers and critique partners through this competition. I wish I could list them all by name, but a special thanks to Tara Lundmark, Anne Rowland Stubert, and Carolyne Topdjian for their insight and friendship! Critique partners are special people – cherish them!

Personally, Twitter contests helped me grow the most in the querying process. I found community and editors/agents who spoke into my book and believed it would find a home.

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THE AGENT

Then, on a twitter pitch contest, an agent requested the full and offered a Revise & Resubmit.

Her editorial letter brought tears to my eyes – in a good way! Never had I imagined finding an agent who not only loved my writing but also had a passion for Japan and had traveled to Tohoku during the 3/11 Tsunami aftermath. And her edits! Kaitlyn Johnson is a fantastic editor on so many levels. I knew, no matter what other offers I received, this was a match.

And I’m fairly certain that after “The Call” I entered Neverland. I did the usual, informing other agents of the offer, biting my fingernails, dancing, etc. And Voila!

I signed with Kaitlyn Johnson at Corvisiero Literary Agency.

And the journey continues…but not to get “there” wherever that is. Writing a book, getting an agent, publishing, hitting the best-seller list, we put these on a golden ladder and compare everyone accordingly. Don’t!

“There” is on the inside. It’s the YOU that makes you proud. And it can never be replaced by how successful you are on the outside.

Keep writing and living fully!

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Ellen McGinty

www.ellenmcginty.com

 

 

 

Photo Credit:

1st Photo by Smart on Unsplash

2nd Photo by Fab Lentz on Unsplash

3rd Photo by Seth Hays on Unsplash

 

 

How to Find Your Way in the Realm of Traditional Publishing

How to Find Your Way in the Realm of Traditional Publishing | The Spinning Pen

Once upon a time…

…there was a group of young and promising writers. They had great ideas, finished manuscripts, and starry eyes filled with hope of Bestseller’s Lists. The only question was, what should they do next?

Our intrepid writers set out to explore their options: should they go indie and self-publish, or try the traditional publishing route? While a couple members of the group chose to investigate the self-publishing path, this narrator decided to follow the group who went toward the traditional path first. (Check in with the indie group here!)

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How to Find the Right Literary Agent

pexels-photo-165226-mediumHow to find The One.

If you have no clue about how to find the right agent, go on this journey with me to find the one…

I want to develop a career as an author, say, for the next 30 years, so I’ll want to take researching an agent seriously. It’s not as easy as buying a pair of new shoes or I’d have one already, but it’s not as involved as getting married –somewhere in between. And, with all relationships, there is a bit of risk involved, but there are also ways to narrow down the search to agents that seem like a good fit.

So. Where do I start? With agents that represent books I like and genres I write.

I read about them on query tracker and publishers market places, writers blogs, and interviews. I do the research. Make sure their agency is legit/established and operates with integrity. Find out if the agent has a good track record. Pubrants has great thoughts on this.

Go deeper. I reflect.

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