Querying Show Episode 4: A Query Breakdown–Show me the Stakes!

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Welcome to The Querying Show’s Fourth Episode!

Until the New Year 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!

***Note: There will only be two episodes in November & December!*** 

SO…..Today is the 4th week of CR’s journey. On the last episode, we whooped you his query. Today, we will not only hear from CR but we will dissect what a query should have! The first two people to comment will get a free query critique from CR & Nova.

But first, let’s check in our with brave querying fellow and see how things are progressing. (Click here for Episode 1 & 2 & 3.)

SP: Ciao CR/Write_Or_Left. As always, let’s start with the STATS. How many more queries have you sent out? 

Any rejections? (Personal or form rejections?)

How do the personal rejections feel?

Requests?

CR/Write_Or_Left: 

To be perfectly honest with you, I’m in a query slump. With final projects due, I don’t have a lot of time to work on it, but that’s not the only reason.

Querying makes you doubt yourself as a writer. Not necessarily the rejections, but more so my own thoughts have caused this. I continually compare my story to published books. I ask myself, “Would anyone really want to represent this?” I start to wonder about my characters and about my narrator’s voice. Because of all this, I am starting to think I need another round of editing, possibly a big one.

All this to say, I sent 0 queries.

When the personal rejections pop up in my inbox, it’s usually gratitude that I feel first. Someone actually bothered to read what I sent them and even emailed me in response!

SP: Querying can be weeks of silence (oh, the painful months of just crickets!)–how are you holding up? How have your views of querying changed since you started? 

CR/Write_Or_Left: 

Like I said before, it’s starting to weigh on me. Not because of what agents have said, but because of my own doubts. Like many others, I am my own worst critic.

My views have changed immensely, mostly by raising my standards for myself. There’s a lot of great work out there, and mine just isn’t quite at the level yet!

SP: Thanks for your honesty, CR. Publishing can be a tough business and as writers, we have all been there. But the ones that make it are the ones that don’t give up when those rejections come. In the long run, those rejections prepare us for success–! (I think our next post should address attacking self-doubt! BUT FOR TODAY…)

WE WILL take CR’s Query and break it down in order to show you the few main parts that query should have.

First, keep your query as concise as possible. Do not add extra details that do not show us these main things:

  1. Introduce your clever and relatable MC.
  2. Introduce the clever premise or hook/conflict of the story.
  3. Show us what the character wants (a goal/desire) and what is stopping him/her from getting it.
  4. Show us what is at stake if the MC can’t reach his/her goal.

NOW, let’s see how CR has done this~

12-year-old outlier Evander Ross knows there’s something special about the book his Grandpa tried to destroy. But he never would have guessed it would almost get him killed. Three times. (Here, CR has introduced his main character & a small hook! Great job!)

Despite his mother and grandfather’s efforts to shield the truth, Evander accidentally discovers traces of a strange world in one of his family’s many “forbidden” zones in the city. The Gifted World is everything Evan has dreamed of—a place full of strange creatures and new abilities, but also great danger. Within it, Evan nearly dies at the hand of Katerina, one of the Gifted World’s most wanted criminals; he finds Lumen’s Middle-High—a school that finally understands him; and he’s taken by authorities who tell Evan that he will never be accepted in the Gifted World—that his family was banished long ago. (Here he set up the story with a premise and a problem, told us what the character wants, and what is stopping him.)

Evan is now eager not only to discover his family’s true past but also to find his way back and prove the Marshals are wrong about him. So when Evander learns that Katerina plans to attack Lumen’s Mid-High, he takes his chance. But no one believes him. Now he might be the only one that can stop her threat. And if he doesn’t, Lumen’s and everyone in it might be completely destroyed. (Here, CR showed us more of the goal/hook/conflict and what is at stake if the MC can’t reach his goal!)

SP: TIPS so you don’t go crazy while treading in the slush pile!

While querying—consider taking part in TWITTER CONTESTS:

#Pitchmas

#Pitmad

#Teenpit

#DVpit

#Revpit

#querykombat

ETC

The first link below is a LONG list of pitch contests and their dates:

https://iwriterly.com/writing-resources/pitch-contest-calendar/

Don’t miss out on a chance to have an agent read your work! 

The second link is an authors journey to getting her agent thru twitter! 

I Got my agent on Twitter! 10 Tips for online pitching contests!

 

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CR

&

 

Nova

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signing off!

 

 

 

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Marketing & Social Media Tips Part 1

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Last week I attended a Writers Meet-Up with a fantastic group of authors who ranged from traditionally published to indie authors.

Throughout the night, the selected authors talked about Social Media, Marketing, & Publicity! In part one, I will summarize and expand on a few of the topics they taught on!

Kim Vandel, Indie author of Into the Fire series, was the first to share. She talked about the need for authors to be active on social media–to create a presence, a following, marketing, and an availability to readers and fellow writers, and to be in community. Well, what if social media isn’t your game or wondering what to post doesn’t come natural? Kim gave her helpful tips and ideas, and then had the group hold a brainstorming session on things they could post. It was super useful–so I asked her if I could share her tips!

Here are a few ideas of what to post on social media sites:

  1. Writing Status & Place — It’s always fun to see where an author is writing and what they are working on. If you go to cafe, or are writing at home, snap a pic of that cozy place and talk about what you are working on that day. Maybe mention a writing goal or a character. Don’t forget to ask others about where or what they are working on too! B42B074F-24ED-4D50-A763-1C06BE4DBD89-1722-00000510753835B0_tmp
  2. Quotes, Memes, Aesthetics’sQuotes from famous authors or entrepreneurs that are inspiring, funny quotes, or Memes (usually a humorous pic with a one liner) or an aesthetic (a collage of pictures showing off your novel.) 6
  3. Author Events–If you have done an author event, or attend a conference or workshop, post pictures from it! IMG_4756
  4. Authors friends getting together for a writing sessionIMG_4733
  5. Books! Post your latest read or a book that is on your TBR pile, or promote a friend’s book!IMG_2699
  6. National Day–For those of you who don’t know there is a national day for EVERYTHING! Get creative–post something about that’s day’s National Day if you don’t know what to post about– just to participate!National Donut day
  7. Participate in the upcoming writing, book, goal, personal challenges on Twitter or IG – NanoWriMo, Twitter Contests, get involved in community that way!WIPjoy
  8. Participate in Contests & encourage community –This is a great way to get involved and know other writers–and possibly score from one of those contests! Find a contest that fits you and your book, and go for it! Post about it and engage the others who are going for it too!PitchWars-Logo.jpg
  9. Personal Life— Post something from your latest trip across the world, share a different hobby with your followers–painting? Photography? Share something personal! Your followers enjoy knowing you! Also, if you are not the type to post pictures of your face, DO IT anyway sometimes. Followers love to see who they are following. Seeing you–even if its not perfect, and especially if tis real, they love seeing faces and lives. It helps to connect us.IMG_2762
  10. Research–Post interesting facts or tidbits that you found while researching for your novel! Those small facts can be engaging! A few of my writing friends have researched all kinds of science facts, (even how long a body takes to decompose!) Falconry. Math equations. Spy techniques! Start with…DId you know that….?images-39
  11. Post pics to promote authors you like– help in doing COVER REVEALS or congratulating people on their Book Birthdays! IMG_4735

There are many more tips floating around the writing community–these are just a few. What are some ways you play with Social Media?

If you would like to add some tips to our list, PLEASE comment and we will add them in!

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Nova, signing off!

The Querying Show, Episode 3. Gently Rip Apart His Query, Please.

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Welcome to The Querying Show’s Third Episode!

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!

***Please forgive our late post. Autumn colds took over last week! 

SO…..Today is the 3rd week of CR’s journey. Today we will do something a bit different. We will SHOW YOU CR’S QUERY and ask YOU for feedback!

But first, let’s check in our with brave querying fellow and see how things are progressing. (Click below for Episode 1 & 2.)

SP: Ciao CR/Write_Or_Left. As always, lets start with the STATS. How many more queries have you sent out? 

Any rejections?

Requests?

CR/Write_Or_Left:  Just one rejection, and no requests. The rejection was a good ol’ copy-paste (the email itself said as much).

SP: Be honest, are you:

A) Twitter stalking the agents you queried?

B) Checking your inbox regularly?

C) Totally Chill and got this?

D) Other exciting or emotional thoughts? (Do tell.)

E) All of the above?

CR/Write_Or_Left : I check my inbox pretty regularly, and I research agents before querying. But for the most part, I’m surprisingly calm about everything. I think it’s mostly because I really have no expectations except that I will get rejected. Therefore no rejection is all that painful, and all positive feedback is a welcome surprise! I think that’s given me a thicker skin for this process.

I’m also working on an additional project that I’m pretty excited about, so if this whole thing flops, I’ll have learned invaluable lessons that will help me in that project!

SP: OK, so for Today’s show, we wanted AUDIENCE feedback on CR’s Query. Your advice just may help him get a request!

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Our questions:

What do you like about it?

What don’t you like about it?

Would you request it?

What can be improved?

Any other helpful tips?

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Rules: Add your thoughts in the comments below. NO slamming! Please be kind while critiquing–all critiques must be helpful.

 

QUERY:

Dear “Awesome Agent,”

(Insert Personal Greeting and Necessary Genre, word count, Comp title info–or something of the sort! FYI, this is MG fantasy.)

12-year-old outlier Evander Ross knows there’s something special about the book his Grandpa tried to destroy. But he never would have guessed it would almost get him killed. Three times. 

Despite his mother and grandfather’s efforts to shield the truth, Evander accidentally discovers traces of a strange world in one of his family’s many “forbidden” zones in the city. The Gifted World is everything Evan has dreamed of—a place full of strange creatures and new abilities, but also great danger. Within it, Evan nearly dies at the hand of Katerina, one of the Gifted World’s most wanted criminals; he finds Lumen’s Middle-High—a school that finally understands him; and he’s taken by authorities who tell Evan that he will never be accepted in the Gifted World—that his family was banished long ago.

Evan is now eager not only to discover his family’s true past but also to find his way back and prove the Marshals are wrong about him. So when Evander learns that Katerina plans to attack Lumen’s Mid-High, he takes his chance. But no one believes him. Now he might be the only one that can stop her threat. And if he doesn’t, Lumen’s and everyone in it might be completely destroyed.

(End with BIO and other useful info like social media and contact info)

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

CR

SP: Our Querying Tip of the Week:

WHILE you are querying KEEP writing on either your WIP or a new project; Get more readers to review your work–have an open mind; Get involved with other writers and read their work too! And DON’T stress it! All good things take time. 

Schedule Update:

Since we have posted late, we will NOT post a show this Friday.

Also, during November and December, we will only have 2 Querying shows per month due to extra holiday busyness and school exams! Thanks for understanding! *If something exciting does occur, we will be sure to let you know!

Nova and CR/Write_Or_Left  signing off! Have a GREAT weekend!!!

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!

 

 

The Querying Show, Episode 1

peter-lewicki-411606-unsplash.jpgWelcome 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? Will it result with a querying and MS reboot? Follow us to see how Write_Or_Left ‘s querying journey will end up!

Today is the beginning of his journey. Let’s check in our with brave querying fellow and see how he began.

SP: Greetings, CR/Write_Or_Left ! First, we want to know how you’re feeling with this whole OPEN, VULNERABLE, POTENTIALLY EMBARRASSING, JOURNEY you started with The Querying Show? Continue reading

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

 

Book Marketing & Promotion Tips from Writer’s Edit’s Founder, Helen Scheuerer

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“Promote your upcoming or already published book with these tips!”

Here are some very helpful tips from Helen Scheuerer– author of the Oremere Chronicles and the founder of Writer’s Edit and Talem PressHelen also has a Bachelor in Creative Writing, a Masters in Publishing and has always been focused on writing. *We pulled all of her marketing tips from our latest interview. Read the full interview here.  Continue reading

Author Interview: Brittany Fichter

Pen Friends ~ Get ready for a long string of author interviews this month! We just love learning from other authors and hearing their stories from dreams to publication. We hope you do too!

Today’s interview is fantasy and fairytale-inspired author, Brittany Fichter! If you love fairytale spin-offs and heart throbbing arcs and characters, you have a list of books to choose from–See below for Brittany’s book pics!

Brittany Fichter

 

SP: Hi Brittany! Thanks for joining us. First, please tell us a bit of who are you and how long have you have been writing?

 

Continue reading

Author Interview: Gloria Chao

Pen Friends ~ The Lovely Debut Author of American Panda is our guest today! Welcome, Gloria Chao! Her first book, American Panda will be out very very soon, and you can get the inside scoop!

77dfoo2T_400x400.jpgSP: Hi Gloria! Thanks for joining us. First, can you please tell us a bit of who are you and how long have you have been writing? 

GC: Thank you so much for having me! I’m so excited to be a part of your wonderful blog! I’m a young adult author based in Chicago, and I’ve been writing for the past five years. I write contemporary stories featuring Taiwanese-American teens struggling with identity, always with humor because life and books are so much more fun with some laughs. Continue reading

YA Author Interview: Caitlin Sangster

Pen Friends~ It’s my honor to welcome YA Author Caitlin Sangster to the Spinning Pen. This amazing lady shares something very special with me– a love for travel and Asia! Which kind of inspired her debut, Last Star Burning– a thrilling dystopian, fantasy, fairytale, blend of awesome. Today she will share all kinds of gems with us: her writing journey, world building tips, and more!

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SP: Hi Caitlin! Thanks so much for joining us! First, can you please tell us a bit of who are you and how long have you have been writing?

CS: Hi! I’m so glad to be here! I’ve been writing on and off since I was a kid, but started seriously writing about five years ago. I’ve lived in California, China, Taiwan, Montana, and, most recently Utah. In college, I did a BA in Asian Studies with an emphasis in China (and am, consequently, a huge Chinese history and politics nerd). I love to run and wish I were a ballroom dancer. Lost but very much not least, I have four delightfully disruptive children ages seven and under. Continue reading