Query

You just need that one….

Loïc Corbasson [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
So, for those of you who may not have heard…I am deep in the query trenches. This process is like a roller coaster, you go from one rejection to a request within hours or days.

Not everyone will like our work. And while it´s tough, it´s also a reminder for later, you know when we´re all published and getting reviews. Some flattering, some -hmmm-less.

As always, the YA community is really helpful during those crazy times, as well as my hubby (thanks hubby for believing in me). The support through email, blog and twitter is wonderful, and I wish I could just hang out with you all in real life, over a drink or two!

I haven´t sent a lot of queries. Yet. I´m taking my first steps, but I already had my heart in my throat and butterflies in my stomach. There are some stories out there about writers getting an agent within days, and really I´m happy for them. They help me dream. But there are also those that had to wait months, years before getting represented. And you know what? Those stories also help me dream.

It all comes down to one. We just need that one agent who believes in our work, in our book, and in our career. Of course, we have lists of preferred agents, when we start querying because most of us do our research. We read agents´ blogs, and agency guidelines, their recent sales, also making sure that they are taking on new clients. But we never know how everything will develop. Sarah LaPolla said it much better than me in her blog in October: “Writing is hard enough, let alone querying. Take one solace where you can and know that your dream agent is out there, but it’s not up to you to decide who that is until he or she reads your work. They will come to you.

Many writers have shared their query success over the past years…here are just a few, in case you want stories to make you smile, while you´re waiting. And don´t forget to KEEP WRITING 😀

So, tell me – how is your writing going? Have you already sent queries in the big wild world? 

personal

Catching up…Do you remember me?

So I don´t know if you´ve noticed but I´ve been a tad absent from my blog. Bad Elodie, bad.  I didn´t even participate in this month YA`s Book Club (organized by Tracey) because I didn´t finish THE RAVEN BOYS on time (by the way, great book!)

I´ve missed you.

Hugs.

Work has been super duper busy, even more than usual. And my weekends were spent with my manuscript, making it query-ready. It´s scary and exciting at the same time.  I sent my first queries last week, and yes, I now check my emails even more obsessively than before.

I´m getting ready for NaNo – as of tomorrow.

This weekend, my sister and her family came to visit. I enjoyed listening to my niece and nephew telling us stories, seeing my hubby and my family bond despite the different languages, discovering the awe on my nephew´s face as he took the train for the first time, laughing hard with my niece as we goofed around, drinking champagne and some delicious wine, playing Jenga and singing Karaoke, watching movies with my sister and my brother-in-law.

Basically a much needed relaxing and amazing weekend.

How have you been?

Happy Friday, revising, writing

Happy Friday #31 – Writing new words…

Yay, it´s time for Happy Friday 😀 Looking forward to know what made you smile this week!

Again, super duper busy this week, and today will be no difference. Sorry I’ve not been very active on this blog (or on Twitter) in the past weeks!

A lot of things made me smile this week…like the feedback I received from Mandy in the class I’m taking with her, being off on Wednesday due to the German reunification day and playing tennis with my hubby, spending a nice evening with friends on Tuesday, beta reading and critiquing…

But you know why I had a big grin on my face today? (on top of it being Friday)

I did, I wrote new words in my document. It was exhilarating and scary. I managed to type about 600 words during my commute and I’m loving it…It’s good because I’m soon going to start querying ONE TWO THREE – probably in a few weeks and I will definitely need to focus my brain on something. PLAYING WITH FIRE will help me focus and staying creative is a great outlet 🙂

 

So, tell me, what made YOU smile this week?

Happy Friday, revising, writing

Happy Friday #30 – Blog awards, Critiquing and feeling like a rock star :D

Yay, it´s time for Happy Friday 😀 Looking forward to know what made you smile this week!

I have been super duper busy this week, leaving the house at 6.45am and not coming back until 8.15pm for example yesterday. But, since there’s always a silver lining, not only do I enjoy my job, I also had a lot to make me smile this week…

Blog awards: I’ve received a LOT of blog awards in the past couple of weeks. Sorry I didn’t manage to properly accept them yet but again THANK YOU so much 😀

Critiquing and beta reading: Jaime sent me the beginning of her new WiP- I haven’t critiqued it yet, I just read it and I was left wanting more of it! Plus I have Sara’s first fifty pages waiting for me, and the 2500 first words of the wonderful writers in my peer review group for Mandy Hubbard’s class. I can’t tell you how much I learn about writing by critiquing and beta reading…

Getting my little blog  mentioned by Sara Megibow on Twitter: Yep, it’s kind of a fuzzy feeling and a bit “did that really just happen?”

Degrassi Junior High: I loved, loved, loved that show when I was younger. I caved and bought the DVDs…

A lunch break stroll…: As I said my week was busy, but one day during the week, I decided to take a short break to get some fresh air…and the view made me smile.

So, tell me, what made YOU smile this week?

Query, writing

Query writing (part 2) – Webinar with Sara Megibow

In August I took the query webinar offered by Sara Megibow, called “Ten Queries In Ten Tweets ” which aimed to show the “behind-the-scenes” on the way agents look at queries.

If you follow Sara on Twitter, she does this exercise every week, providing a glimpse of the reasoning behind accepting and rejecting queries. But through this webinar, participants got to ask questions, and she also explained what she means when she tweets for example: “the writing isn´t strong enough”…

One of the main points of the webinar?

Behind the scenesSara gets a lot of queries. A lot. She devotes about one minute to each query, and needs to decide very fast. She mentioned that the majority of her time is spent working for her clients. That makes a lot of sense and her dedication/enthusiasm for her clients is clear. She mentioned at some point that she receives about 150 queries a day. Last year, she signed 9 clients. So it looks the odds are not in our favor. But most of her clients come from the slush pile, so it IS possible! And….she also pointed out that the queries looked at during the webinar were good. There are many times when the queries she receives are not a fit for agency, for genres they don´t represent or the writer makes mistakes that are easily avoidable.

If you see “The writing isn´t strong enough”  in Sara´s tweets, it could mean the following: too wordy (pitch is too long, not focused enough on the plot, not tightened enough), some sentences are a bit unclear, no variety in the sentences, the sentences don´t flow (the transitions between the parts of the plot are not smooth enough)…

Always remember: the query is a mirror of the manuscript in the eye of the agent.

What she wants to see in a query:

  • Clear and concise: She mentioned several time that the pitch needed to be concise. It needs to have the who, why, where, and why but that if it becomes too wordy, there´s a risk that the manuscript is too wordy itself. We should basically see the pitch as a way for the agent to “sell” the book afterwards, to pitch it to editors…
  • Not too much focus on background story: Where does the book move forward to? For example: a dad announces that the family moves to a new place. This is not the incident, it´s the announcement to the incident. What happens then? This should be the focus!
  • Internal and external conflict: There needs to be a balance. Even though there can be an emphasis on internal conflict, there still needs to be something moving the plot forward.
  • Organic world-building: If you´re querying a fantasy, sci-fi….the world-building needs to be an inherent part of the query and the link between the world and the plot needs to be smooth.

How to polish the pitch/query?

    • Talk about your book to your plants, kids, significant others, computer…Talk about your book. A. Lot.
    • Think about being an elevator with a film producer and you have to tell him/her what your book´s about.
    • Read back covers of books.
    • Go back to your manuscript and list the plot points.
Smile cookies
I know it´s a LONG post…here have a cookie!
Photo courtesy of kbowenwriter (WANA Commons)

I got a pass but she was spot on (really, it´s scary!)

Disclaimer: of course, I dreamed that Sara would love my query, send me an email requesting pages, the full and then offer me representation…Didn´t happen but it could in the future since a pass during the webinar isn´t a “pass, pass”.

The query I sent Sara for this webinar received this feedback:  Pass. Contemporary young adult. Solid story, but writing isn’t as strong as I’d like and the heroine has a prickly attitude which might make her hard to connect with.

  • My query was too wordy and too long = writing isn´t as strong
  • It focused too much on backstory = writing isn´t as strong.
  • It focused too much on the attitude of my MC

And you know what? This query was written before two of my major revisions for my manuscript. Sara emphasized several times during the webinar that the query is usually a reflection of the manuscript. Not always and she did pass on projects which ended up being very successful but she looks for books to sell, not books to work on.

My revisions took care of the points she mentioned (which my CP and my beta readers also pointed out…). My novel is much stronger now than then.

Basically, she was spot on. At least in my case 🙂

Some additional information:

  • Sara doesn´t mind queries written in first person. She signed Miranda Kenneally based on her query for CATCHING JORDAN which was written from Jordan´s perspective (you can read the query on YA Highway).
  • How soon does she want to see the enticing incident in the book? Within the first 5 to 10 pages.
  • Do you send the prologue in the sample pages? If Sara asks for pages, yes the prologue needs to be included.
  • Comparable titles in the query? It´s helpful but not something Sara concentrates on. She focuses on STRONG writing.
  • In the first 30 pages (and in the entire book): create a balance of all tools aka internal conflict, external conflict, dialogue, back-story…
  • Someone asked about “dead” genres and she emphasized that she can still sell stories. Mermaid (or others) stories may be over-represented but if your concept is unique enough and the query shows strong writing, that wouldn´t prevent her from requesting pages.

And the final words of advice:

Sara repeated this several times: KEEP READING AND KEEP WRITING!

I know this post was SUPER long but hope it was useful/helpful!

Thanks again to Sara for doing this webinar 🙂

Query, writing

Query writing (part 1) – My book is like a Taylor Swift song and it´s okay

I suck at writing queries.

Big time.

I thought I was good when I wrote my first attempt. Nope. The kind people over at AbsoluteWrite told me why I needed to change almost every word of it. I did do some research before but clearly not enough…

This was last year. For a book I I ended up not querying.

Fast forward this summer – I wrote a query, corrected it based on Taryn´s suggestions and it even won her contest. (yay! And if you don´t follow Taryn´s blog, you totally should)

I post said query for feedback on several sites and got again very constructive suggestions/comments. I plugged at it again and posted back for critiquing…

One poster let me know that at some point during the query, my book sounded like a Taylor Swift song (and it wasn´t a compliment :P)

And I thought about it…for a long time. I came to the conclusion that it´s okay, for the following reasons:

  • My novel contemporary is character-driven , just like many of her songs. Plenty of things happen..Natalja has to deal with a lot of things, grow, get to know herself, open up...There are both external and internal conflicts in my novel, and emotions run high.
  •  I can feel the emotions when Taylor Swift sings (the soundtrack from Hunger Games anyone?) And I´m pretty sure I´m not the only one…

The query version that got that remark is an older one, and thanks to all the comments I received, Sara´s webinar, Christa, Ian, I have a much much stronger one right now. Well, I have two versions but both of them are better than all the previous ones.

It may still sound like a Taylor Swift song, but if I can bring out the same enthusiasm about my story than she does with her songs. I say: Yay!

Next Monday, I´ll tell you more about queries in: Query writing (part 2) – What I learned in Sara Megibow´s webinar…I´m definitely not a pro but I learned a thing or two thanks to Sara 😀

So tell me, how long does it take you to write a query?

Editing, Happy Friday, personal, revising, writing

Happy Friday #27 – Birthday, Query, Thank you and Other stories

Yay, it´s time for Happy Friday 😀 Looking forward to know what made you smile this week!

Birthday: Last Saturday, I turned 31… My day started out with a wonderful birthday concocted by my husband – which including French Toast, potatoes, bacon and some bubbly…YUM! During the evening, we went to a restaurant (where I enjoyed a very nice cocktail) and we went to see The Crucible at the English Theater in Frankfurt. It was just an amazing day!

Birthday Breakfast
Birthday drink

Query : So query writing has been kicking my butt in the past weeks. I´m still revising my book, but I thought it was high time to start seriously thinking about my query. After participating in Sara Megibow´s webinar, I knew it needed more work.  I´ll tell you more about my query writing process and Sara´s webinar next week but after a lot of work, I have a query that works I think and which actually sounds like my book!!! 😀

Reading and revising: This week, I started reading those two wonderful books to help me in my revising process (highly recommended by Sara) and they rock!

Great books

THANK YOU!: Thank you to everyone for the good wishes on my birthday and on our anniversary. Thank you for the lovely comments on my posts! Thank you for helping me with my query (especially thanks to Christa and Ian, who´ve really been super patient and kind with me during the process)! Thank you to my CP extraordinaire and my beta readers! Thank you for being just wonderful. All of you! This week, it felt like this:

Today, hubby and I are off to France to see my family and our newborn niece for the first time 🙂 I´m super late to reply to comments but I´ll get there, promise!

So, tell me what made you smile this week?