The Querying Show: Final Episode

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Welcome to The Querying Show’s Final Episode (until later)!

For the last 3 months we’ve witnessed every juicy (and 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!)

So the question is, DID CR’s/Write_Or_Left achieve AGENT success? Or DID HE result with a querying and MS reboot?

Today is the final week of CR’s journey (at least online!).

First, as always, let’s check in our with brave querying fellow and see how things have finished. (Click here for Episode 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5.)

SP: Happy New Year, CR/Write_Or_Left! For our final week, we will ask you for the last time about your STATS. 

Any new queries? Rejections? Requests? Tell us!

CR/Write_Or_Left:  Short answer: Nope, nothing to report! Short reason: I made the mistake of querying too early.

I realized pretty early on in the process that my book was not quite where it needed to be for querying. It all boiled down to my characters just not feeling real/relatable enough. Because of this, I’ve been focusing a lot more on rewriting than on actual querying.

SP: So, after four months of querying in the slush pile during the querying show you did not get an agent. (Boo!)

What is your take away and what have you learned? What will you do differently next time?

CR/Write_Or_Left: Trust my gut regarding the content of the story. I never felt like I got to know my characters all that well, but I thought my plot would be strong enough to carry the book. Obviously, that’s not a good mindset. I’m going to make sure my book is exactly where I want it to be before I jump back into this process.

SP: Now that you have this experience under your belt, which steps will you take on your next attempt to query? When do you think you will query again? 

CR/Write_Or_Left: I’ll try to query again as soon as my story is ready. I spent much of my Christmas break rewriting. Not just editing, but really reworking most the story. Once I feel that everything has come together, I’m going to be more consistent about sending queries on a schedule. The more the better!

SP: Thank you for being courageous and willing for us to WATCH as you dove into the slush pile. Was it worth it?

CR/Write_Or_Left:  Absolutely. I learned how to write (and rewrite) a query, research agents and find the qualities and agencies I liked. I also learned how to remain patient and recognize the talent in the slush (which is amazing), and my understanding of the industry in general really grew in. I’ll definitely be more prepared next time.

SP: We wish you the greatest luck next time, confident that you will walk away with an agent soon!

Final question: We are happy to see your Instagram account is steadily growing, now up to 28k from 25,000 followers since the last Querying show! We look forward to your coming post on the Spinning Pen talking about growing your social media!

You also recently started posting on WattPad – Can you tell us about that? Can you give us the link?

CR/Write_Or_Left: 

IG: My account has been getting a lot of traffic recently, and it’s been really cool to see! We actually just hit 29k yesterday. The secret is pretty simple, and I’m sure I’ll be back to talk about it eventually 😉 (see a tip here from last episode!)

Wattpad: Yeah, so I wrote my first novel when I was in my teens. I decided I would post that story each week just for fun! You can read it here. Keep in mind I wrote most of this from ages 16-19, so you should go into it with a mindset of, “This guy has improved a lot since then, but it’s cool to see his early efforts” and not, “This should be as good as a published novel.”

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SP Querying & Pub TIP of the week:

  1. Read the back cover of ten stories that are in your genre. Then read the first chapter on Amazon, if available. Did the voice, feeling, hook, capture you in both?
  2.  Read summarizes both long and short of books online, distinguish which ones capture you and why.
  3. Practice your craft & Never give up!

Good luck!

 

CR & Nova Signing off!

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Author Interview: Astrid Scholte

Pen Friends ~ As a 2016 PitchWars mentee, I’m giddy to tell you that my fellow 2016 PW tribe member, and YA debut author, Astrid Scholte‘s incredible, fast-paced, and highly anticipated fantasy, FOUR DEAD QUEENS will be out in the world in February! Her story of perseverance and hard work is inspiring. Enjoy the interview!

 

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SP: Hi Astrid! Thanks for joining us! Before we get into book stuff, we’d LOVE for you to share with our readers a bit of your inspiring (never-giving up) writing journey. Who are you and how long have you have been writing? 

AS: Thanks so much for having me! Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be an author, writing my first “novel” at age 5. Another love of mine was drawing so I thought a picture book illustrator would be the dream job. Back then, I thought I could illustrate my own books. It wasn’t until much later that I found out most authors don’t also illustrate their work.

While my passion for writing was there from a young age, I pursued a career in 3D animation and visual effects as I also had a love for the magic of movie making. I studied 3D animation at university and have worked (and still do!) in the film, TV and animation industry for the past 10+ years. Working in film production is a taxing job, with long hours, so my writing took a back-seat for a few years. It wasn’t until 2012 that I finally finished a novel. It was a YA paranormal romance and I thought for sure it would get published!

I attempted to be published here in Australia, where you can submit to publishers directly. After getting close with one publisher (or what felt like close at the time as they gave a detailed, positive rejection) I decided to query agents in the USA. Over 100 rejections later, with only one full request, I realized that like many of the characters in YA paranormal novels, the genre was also dead.

That year, I attempted Nanowrimo for the first time and wrote 50K words of what would become my second completed YA novel, an elemental YA fantasy. This time, I went straight to the USA, as I’d been told that speculative fiction was a difficult sell in Australia. I amassed around 80 rejections, but has 12 full requests and some positive feedback. The common feedback I kept hearing was that YA fantasy was over saturated and mine wouldn’t stand out in the market.

So I decided to try one more time. (In truth, I’m sure I would’ve kept going!) I wanted to combine all the things I loved about YA and fiction, including twists, morally gray characters, forbidden romance, secrets and murder mysteries. I also wanted to query as quickly as possible as I’d spent years on failed manuscripts. This book was Four Dead Queens and it ended up getting into PitchWars in 2016, landing me an agent a week after the competition ended, and a publishing deal less than two weeks after going on submission! Luckily I didn’t give up!

Overall, it took me 10 years of writing seriously and 5 years of attempting to get an agent and publisher before I got my offer.
Continue reading

Guest Post: Championing Our Words

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My writing dream all began when an innocent teacher said the fateful words, “Wow! You’re a good writer!”

And a monster was born.

I’ve been writing since middle school, more seriously since high school, and first tried to get published over five years ago. (*I’m still not yet published.) Over that period of time, I’ve made a lot of  mistakes and learned many valuable lessons. But here I am still plugging away at my writing & publishing dream. Why do we writers torture ourselves this way?

We have words inside us that need to be heard.

Continue reading

Author Interview: Kara McDowell

Pen Friends~ today’s interview is special because I was along side YA debut author Kara Jean McDowell as a fellow 2016 PitchWars mentee, witnessed her get an agent, and then a book deal, and now her book, Just For Clicks, will come out in February!

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SP: Hi Kara! Thanks for joining us. Before we dive into all the book stuff, can you please tell us a bit of who are you and how long have you have been writing?

KM: Hello! Thanks for having me! My name is Kara McDowell. I live with my husband and three young kids in Arizona. When I’m not writing or reading, I like to boat, bake, go on road trips, and watch Netflix.

SP: Your debut, Just for Clicks, will come out Feb 2019. First, we LOVE your incredibly adorable, genius, and timely idea!

Here is a blurb: Continue reading

The Querying Show: Episode 5 “Standing Out in a Crowd”

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Welcome to The Querying Show’s 5th 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 9th week of CR’s journey. On the last episode, we broke down his query to show you the most essential parts that a Query should have. Today, we will hear from CR and standing out in a crowd.

Let’s check in our with brave querying fellow and see how things are progressing. (Click here for Episode 1 & 2 & 3 & 4.)   Continue reading

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 – 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

 

Author Interview: Sarah Carlson

Pen Friends ~ You’re in for a treat today! We have debut Ya author, Sarah Carlson, here to talk about her upcoming book, All the Walls of BelfastFind out she got her agent and what keeps her going as she shares about her querying, publishing, marketing, traveling dreams, and writing process & journey. Learning from and listening to other authors can help us a lot. Enjoy!

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

SC: Hey, thanks for having me! I write contemporary YA that touches on issues that make you think. By day, I’m a school psychologist working at an elementary school; my focus is on supporting mental health and behavioral needs. I also work to support and directly intervene around children who have been exposed to trauma. I’ve loved writing since 4thgrade, when I got picked to represent my grade at a writing competition. In middle school, it was hundreds of pages of Stephen King fan fic scrawled on loose-leaf paper. Then high school saw me creating an epic universe for a sci-fi novel that grew to over 240,000 words and will never again see the light of day. Continue reading

What I’ve Learned from Querying so Far- A Guest Post by Jessica Jade

Pen Friends, welcome Jessica Jade, a fabulous addition to the Spinning Pen. She’ll be joining us for a few months, sharing her journey on becoming an author — tips on writing, querying, YA fantasy, rejection, success, book reviews, and more! You’ll want to connect with her on twitter (link below) and see her beautiful novel aesthetics on her YA fantasy that she’s querying at the moment!

~~Welcome Jessica~~

When I first started querying over two years ago, I thought I was ready—the manuscript, the query letter, everything.

Oh, I was wrong. Embarrassingly wrong.

 

Right before that unfortunate round of querying, I applied for PitchWars 2015. Didn’t get a single request. Perhaps I’d picked the wrong mentors to submit to, or perhaps my story just really wasn’t their cup of tea. But I couldn’t let that get me down. Nope! I had to persevere.

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So I queried 16 agents, and not surprisingly, received 16 rejections (there was one request for a partial, but that ultimately turned into a pass).

Ouch.   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