Hang around publishing people of all types and you’ll see the same questions and answers surfacing over and over again, despite the zillions of excellent resources on the internet. So, I decided to pack the most common questions and my most favorite answers into one work-in-progress place. Ta da! (Note that you can also find […]
I’m not usually a resolution kind of person since I’ve had a goal list since I was eight, lol, but I do find it helpful to set writing resolutions for the year. Here are my writing resolutions for 2017:
- Find a reliable critique partner. Because of my schedule I am not typically able to meet critique partners in person, however, I am very responsive to email. Even though I have connected with great writing partners over the years, none of those people have been able to commit to more than one project. Or more than one week. Even if all hell is breaking loose in my personal life I still manage to find some time to write and/or edit work. As such, I am hoping for the same from a potential critique partner. I would love to find one who doesn’t fall off the face of the earth.
- Produce an audiobook of One Night. A reader asked me recently if I had an audiobook of One Night out. I don’t yet, but think it’s a great idea and will be fun to execute.
- Secure a traditional publishing contract. I enjoy independent publishing. I love working with an editor, designer, and managing my own business. But a traditional publishing contract and the distribution power that comes with it would make my life so much easier. I’m still dreaming of New York City validation and am working on getting it with The Other Side of the World.
- Finish current work in progress, a new YA novel. This will be done within the next month or two, if I continue at my current pace.
- Attend at least one writer’s workshop or conference. I’m a firm believer in working on the craft of writing and find professional workshops are always helpful.
- Start another novel. I may be dreaming on this one, but I think it’s doable.
- Accept praise more graciously. As a writer who’s been rejected more times than I can count, it’s still hard for me to take a compliment. When people tell me they’ve read One Night and really liked it my usual response is to mumble, “Thanks,” look at the ground, and change the subject immediately. Even though I know I’m a good writer there are parts of me that doubt myself. I would like to change that in 2017.
If you have any writing goals for this year I’d love to hear them! Feel free to comment on this post 🙂
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I haven’t done a monthly update in a while, so this post will cover the last 2-3 months.
What I’m reading:
- Finished The Glass Castle recently by Jeannette Walls. OMG. I told multiple people I know that this memoir about growing up more or less homeless has so many outrageous parts it must be fiction. Everyone needs to read this. Fun fact: they’re filming the movie version as we speak and my employer has a prop in it!
- The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone. It’s about a ship where passengers go to die/live out their last wishes and centers around a young girl and her grandmother. I give it four out of five stars.
What I’m watching:
- Bachelor in Paradise. I think I might like this show better than the original franchise. Just so much ridiculous debauchery every minute. It’s exactly the kind of show to watch to forget about whatever problems might be going on in your life!
- The 1977 film Orca. It’s about a killer whale seeking vengeance against a local fisherman who tries to capture it. The whale wreaks havoc on the small fishing village near the coast. It’s very violent for a PG movie, but compelling stuff.
What I’m writing:
- I’m in the throes of editing a new novel about a Filipino kid and his family. More info to be announced later.
- An essay collection about growing up/the awkwardness of high school.
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If you’re reading this I’m sure you’ve already read about how to format a query letter and the basic elements to include in one. Today I’m going to talk about what sets average query letters apart from great query letters.
An original premise. Now, this is easier said than done and somewhat subjective. But, as a writer you should read enough to know what isn’t being written about and whether your manuscript is filling a hole in the marketplace. If your query involves a vampire love triangle there’s a problem. Maybe somewhere there are still agents who are on the hunt for these types of stories, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Don’t have enough time to read? Check out Publisher’s Weekly or Kirkus. Reading book reviews is faster than reading an entire book and is a quick way to know if your story has already been done.
Interesting, relatable characters. The setting of your story is important. Plot is also important. But characters are what suck readers in. If you don’t paint a picture of an intriguing character others want to know more about it doesn’t matter what the plot is.
Stakes. Something has to happen to your characters. Something big. Whether it is external conflict, internal, or both, agents need to be assured that something exciting is going to happen when they read your manuscript. A query letter is your chance to convince an agent to come along for whatever ride your character is on.
A short, movie-like pitch. The best queries can be boiled down to one sentence. To be able to sell your book you need to be intimately familiar with it to the point that you can summarize it in a single sentence. If you can’t sell it, how can you convince an agent he or she can sell it?
Clarity. What do I mean by this? I have critiqued many a query and commented that I wasn’t sure what the author’s story was really about. If an agent is confused at any point when reading your query it’s often the death of it. Write the query as simply as you can.
Lastly, follow conventions. Include the genre, word-count, and title of your story. Tell the agent why you are querying him or her. Mention any relevant bio information (awards won, conferences attended, special writing education, some nugget about what makes you the ideal person to write this story).
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