Archive for the ‘queries’ Tag

If You Missed the WB Live Chat on Query and Agent-Related Support . . .

Last night, the Write-Brained Network hosted its first live chat since moving back to Ning.

The topic was broad—query and agent-related support—but we kept a good convo going.

The gist . . .

One of the reasons we chose this particular topic for the chat was because of a question a Write-Brainiac had: How do you know know when to heed an agent’s advice in terms of making changes to your manuscript? This particular writer was talking about when one gets a personalized rejection—not when one gets an editorial letter or something, etc.

Some of the suggestions from the group:

  • Always. An agent knows what sells and what will make your book more salable. That is why you are querying an agent in the first place.
  • When the feedback resonates with you.

As we talked, I extended this idea of resonating to not just agent feedback, but for all feedback you receive—be it from betas, crit partners, your writing group, your mom, agents, or editors.

As I have been preparing to query myself (and, therefore, getting lots of feedback on my manuscript from multiple sources), I have thought much on this subject.

It seems like, at least for me, whenever I write something, I have certain insecurities with it—things that tug at my guts a little, and I’ll think, “If this scoots past X, Y, and Z betas, then it must be okay.” Many times, those are the things X, Y, and Z betas mention as items to change, cut, condense, or expand.  So, when I get their feedback, it resonates—and I know it’s not just my writerly insecurities being all OCD. (Sometimes that is the case, however!)

On the topic of resonating . . .

Sometimes you’ll get feedback that you never would have considered or recognized yourself.  (This is why you need to get feedback, people!)  It’s a subjective business, and sometimes someone will come up with a killer idea or ask a question that spawns a twist you hadn’t anticipated—but that is a good problem to have.  If it resonates, if you can see how incorporating the suggestion would make the book better, then, I say, do it!

More from the chat . . .

Another Write-Brainiac asked about nonfiction books and whether or not the writer should secure the rights to photographs prior to querying agents, or if that is the agent’s job.

This was a bit of a stumper.  We discussed it as best we could—I gave some suggestions based on what I know of related situations, but none of us pretended to be experts in this area.  If you *are*, please leave advice in the comments!

My immediate response to this was that, the closer a writer comes to having everything in place before he queries, the more professional and “together” the writer will appear to the agent.  Less work for the agent = happier agent, etc.

However, I can also see where this might not be the case.

Related(ish) examples . . .

Children’s author Gail Langer Karwoski spoke at the Southeastern Writers Association conference last summer about something similar, regarding the writer/author relationship:

  • Most picture books begin with the story, unless you have a legal relationship with the illustrator (it’s you, your relative, your spouse).
  • If there’s no legal relationship and you’re trying to suggest an illustrator in your proposal, it’s like a siren screaming “AMATEUR” (=rejection).
  • Many times, pub houses will pair a newer author with a more established illustrator to increase the book’s chances of selling.
  • If you can do both (you don’t just “doodle”), you should; just make sure your proposal is professional.
  • Many agents want author/illustrators (because it’s less people to pay and more of a cut of the money for them).

Also, I know that, when my Writer’s Digest Books editor, Chuck Sambuchino, wrote his Gnomes book—which is a nonfiction, humor book—he wasn’t expected to have the photos with it.  The publisher, Ten Speed Press, chose photographers to take pictures, and Chuck and his agent were able to pick their favorite from there.  (I also understand that the author having a say in that kind of thing isn’t common.)

Along the lines of securing rights, if there are specific photos you want and *you* are taking them (and there’s a reason you are the only one who can take said photos), I believe you technically already own the rights to them, as soon as the picture is snapped.  Same thing with writing.  Yes, you can register something with the U.S. Copyright office, but you actually “own” something as soon as you write it.

However, the WBer with the question was actually asking about photos of a structure that no longer exists—so it’s not as though new photos can be taken of it.  From what I know and what I’ve read*, my instincts lead me back to my initial answer—that the writer should have the rights secured before querying the agent.

Anything to add?

*Helpful copyright articles from the Guide to Literary Agents blog:

**Not a Write-Brainiac yet?  Click here to get started.

***For more with Karwoski, click here and here.

In the Blogosphere: 12/6-1/7

“In the Blogosphere” is a series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week (usually).

I’m making one of my resolutions to be better with these blogosphere posts.  I’ve saved lots of great stuff, and it’s all definitely worth a read.

QUERY STUFF

The onset of January seems to signal the big “okay” in terms of opening the query floodgates after the usual holiday standstill.  With that in mind, here are some links to help you with your queries:

  • I recently found this Yahoo! Group dedicated to giving and receiving feedback exclusively on queries.
  • Here, former agent extraordinaire Nathan Bransford tells you how to write a query.

I ain't afraid 'a no procrastination!

PROCRASTINATION BUSTERS

The new year is also a time to buckle down, set some goals, and get back at it.

Dr. Wicked’s Write or Die can help you do just that.

As well, Christine Macdonald offers six tips to help you combat procrastination.

You know that whole multitasking thing you’re doing?  Here, Writing for Digital discusses how he’s thought multitasking has helped him—but he also mentions some studies that suggest it can work against creativity and productivity.  V. interesting!

One good way to be productive is to set a routine.  However, Dale Challener Roe over at Write Anything suggests you re-evaluate your regimen, to make sure you don’t get in a rut.

PICKY STUFF

As my writing group and crit partners know, I’m quick to point out unnecessary dialogue tags.  *Ahem—most of them are unnecessary.  When you *must* tag, however, it’s better to do so through an action sentence.

Not Enough Words and Simon C. Larter agree.  Thanks, guys!

To cliff hang (at the ends of chapters) or not to cliff hang? Ray Rhamey shares his thoughts over at Writer Unboxed.

Agent of awesome Mary Kole of Andrea Brown Literary Agency answers a reader’s question about scene and chapter length as well as where to break.

CHILD’S PLAY

Middle-grade novels are hot right now, and “boy books” are even more sought after by agents and editors.  Here, Kole discusses character and voice in MG boy books as well as touches on what author Hannah Moskowitz calls “The Boy Problem.”

Moving into more adult subjects in kids’ lit FinePrint Literary agent Suzie Townsend touches on violence while Kole talks about mature voices.

UNCLE NATHAN’S DEMYSTIFICATION

Um, how creepy was that section title?

I’ve got a lot of Nathan Bransford links saved.  Here are some faves:

  • Here, NB discusses publishers’ service packages are changing
  • Here, he explains the meaning of that mysterious term we hear all the time “high concept
  • Here, he tells us how to write a novel! (And he would know—he’s an author!)

DOs & DON’Ts

On her blog, author Jody Hedlund talks about self promo—without the eye-rolls.

Over at Pub Rants, Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary provides one more question authors should ask agents before signing the big representation contract.

At Everything 2, Antonio M. D’souza (aka digitalboy) lists the 10 commandments of bad writers.

AWESOME

This week, it was announced that a “politically correct” version of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is to be released.  A former student of mine, Dan Wilbur, runs the blog Better Book Titles, and here is his answer to that.

Have a great weekend, peeps!

In the Blogosphere: 7/19-7/23

“In the Blogosphere” is a series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week (usually).

I’m admittedly behind with my Blogosphere posts—I have about 50 links saved, dating all the way back to May (oh noes!)—but they are all still worth a look.  I’ll catch up eventually, right?

QUERIES

Querying/pitching is up there in terms of the most discussed topics on industry blogs and at writing conferences.  I find it always helps me to look at others’ queries in order to better gauge what does and doesn’t work with my own pitches.

Here, at The Public Query Slushpile, fellow Ohioan Rick Daley has dedicated an entire forum to queries and feedback. The idea of the blog being? Leave feedback on others’ queries. Post your queries.* Get feedback from others. It’s that simple.  The site isn’t exactly like Janet Reid’s Query Shark or Jodi Meadows’s Query Project (in that it’s not just industry pros offering feedback—it’s an open forum for all), but the entries do get a good amount of feedback from readers.  And we are all trying to appeal to readers after all, are we not?  Check it out!

Who says slush can't be delicious?

Over on her blog, Canuck mathematics textbook writer (<—Yes, I included that part for my math-ed professor hubs!) Cheryl Angst compiles and comments on a list of 10 things Howard Morhaim Literary Agency’s Kate McKean tweeted as things that she thinks while she reads queries. Very interesting read!

Going along with the two, more regular, query workshops above, D4EO agent Mandy Hubbard conducted her own query clinic back in May.  Here is the post where she discusses the concept, and here is the last in the series (I’ve included this one because she links to all four of the queries she workshopped in it).

TICK TOCK

Summer seems to be about the hardest time of year to find butt-in-chair-and-write time.

Here, YA paranormal romance author Maggie Stiefvater (Shiver, Linger, etc.) offers some thoughtful advice on how writers can to best manage their time.

Over at Writer Unboxed, Anna Elliott chimes in on this subject as well.

CHARACTERS

Afraid your characters are too one-dimensional?  Paulo Campos of yingleyangle gives three tips on how to breathe some life into your darlings.

Here, longtime industry insider Alan Rinzler offers some further insight on how to create and use author James Scott Bell‘s idea of a voice journal.

RANDOMNOSITY

Since it was our four-year anniversary this week, I am posting this in honor of my husband.  Magazine editor and freelance writer Heather Trese says, “You might be married to a writer if . . . “

And, um, how random is this?  Molly is famous!  About a month ago, Annalemma Magazine used a picture of Molly (my beagly beagle) in an article they did about online writing communities.  The caption says that that pic was the first to come up when they Google image searched online writing community! (It looks like she’s since been ousted, however.  It’s on the fourth page.)

You're not the only famous beagle!

*There is a debate about whether or not to post your original work online.  It’s up to you.  Enough industry blogs host contests or query workshops all the time where people post their original queries, so I wouldn’t necessarily worry about someone stealing your work . . . but it *can* happen.  It would probably be pretty easy to prove your query was yours, though—particularly if you posted in on the Internet.  If you’d like feedback from other writers but you’re wary of posting your work on an open forum, try a password-encrypted, by-invitation-only community like *shameless plug* Shenandoah Writers Online!

Pointers from the Pros: Q&A with Agent Kate Schafer Testerman

Pointers from the Pros” gives tips from authors and publishing industry professionals on everything from craft to querying to their experiences on the road to publication.  This post is by guest columnist and SWO member Alicia Caldwell.

Back in May, lit agent Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary hosted a picture-prompt contest on her blog, and fellow SWO member Alicia Caldwell tied with another writer for first place.*  This earned Alicia a 30-minute phone conversation with the agent extraordinaire—and Schafer Testerman agreed to let Alicia share some of her tips with us.

Schafer Testerman blogs and Tweets as her alter ego, shoe-obsessed superagent Daphne Unfeasible.

FROM THE CONVO

A.C.: How do you get most of your clients?

KST: From queries or referrals.  Normally, when meeting authors in person, I generally tell them to send me a query and sample pages anyway.

A.C.: Have you ever taken on a client that you weren’t able to get published?

KST: Yes.  But then we would try with another book, and usually that one is successful.  I did have one client that I wasn’t able to get published, and the author didn’t want to keep changing the story.  That client decided to go with another agent.  I haven’t heard that it has been published yet.

A.C.: Do you refrain from telling people you’re a literary agent in fear they’re going to try and hand you their manuscript?

KST: Sometimes, in certain social situations. But I don’t always mind.

A.C.:  What do you get sick of seeing, story-line wise?

KST: There’s only one person in all the universe that can save the world.  If you can tell the story without it being paranormal, then do it.

(She elaborates on this here.)

A.C.: Why did you leave Janklow & Nesbit Associates to go out on your own?

KST: I got married and moved across the country.  I thought about applying for other companies, but I had heard wonderful things from friends who had started their own agencies, so I went for it.  I was able to take a lot of clients with me, so I didn’t have a difficult start.

A.C.:  How long should a synopsis be?

KST: Two to five pages for a synopsis.  You should tell all the pressing action of the book and the struggles the characters go through to get there.  Don’t leave anything out—including the end.

A.C.:  And a query letter?

KST: A shorter query is better because of the number of queries I receive.  It should contain two normal-sized paragraphs and an extra paragraph about you.  Start with why I should be interested in your book—the hook.  At the bottom, enter the word count and title of the book.

A.C.: In following your query critiques, I’ve noticed you’d like us to show you why a reader should care about the characters and what’s original about the story.

KST: It’s a balance.  You need to talk about action, but at the same time, show us what is different about the character.  Harry Potter was another version of the same story about an orphan, but we learned to love the character himself—and that’s what drew us in.

A.C.: You wrote The King’s Sister: A Novel of Arthurian Britain.  Why didn’t you write more books?

KST: I ended up self-publishing that one.  Looking back at it now, I can see why I couldn’t get it published.  There was something missing from the story.

I’ve worked on a couple of other novels and stories, but I decided I want to concentrate on other writers’ careers right now, not my own!

A.C.: Are there any upcoming conferences you will be attending, where writers can meet you in person?

KST: I will be at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference in September, and I’m hoping to join the staff of the online WriteOnCon this August.

HER OVERALL ADVICE

Use the Internet and get involved with other writers.  Make connections.

By day, Alicia Caldwell and her husband are "just a para-normal people trying to raise a little monster." By night, she is an aspiring young adult fantasy author out of Utah. :)

*Click here to read Alicia’s winning entry.

In the Blogosphere: 6/21-7/2

“In the Blogosphere” is a series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week (usually).

BE CAREFUL

As Sarah Jane Freymann Literary’s Katharine Sands discussed at Southeastern Writers association last week, when pitching, it’s important to be ready.  Over at Self Editing Blog, John Robert Marlow discusses jumping the gun: suicide by submission.

Likewise, Nelson Literary Agency’s Kristin Nelson describes the dangers of starting your novel in the wrong place.

WORTHLESS WORDS

You know, I sort of think this is kind of a fabulous blog post.  Writer and part-time doctor Lydia Kang of The Word is My Oyster says: Stop apologizing! Chuck that qualifying language and strengthen your writing.

REALITY CHECK

Thinking of doing a little freelancing?  Down the Shore with Jen’s Jen A. Miller (@jerseyshorejen) explains four things you need in order to make it.  A must-read for all fledgling freelancers.

Aw, a baby freelancer.

QUERY STUFF

Here, award-winning fiction and nonfiction author JC Hutchins of Writer Unboxed discusses crafting killer pitches by offering and analyzing examples of good ones.

I’m a little behind with my Blogosphere posts—I saved this one two months ago!!—but it’s too good not to share.  Young adult fantasy author Jodi Meadows of the Query Project gave us a gift on her birthday: the query she wrote for Erin Incarnate that helped her snag fab agent Lauren MacLeod of the Strothman Agency.

GET WRITING!

Looking for a little motivation to get words written?  The Michelle Wolfson repped Tawna Feske details a recent Twitter writing sensation, #1k1hr, where one must turn off her self-editor and get words on the page—1,000 of them, to be exact—in an hour.

If you’re looking for something just as satisfying but a little more flexible and a little more long-term, check out my new writing SWO program, WordWatchers. Pick a weekly word count goal, and divvy up the words written per day in a way that fits your schedule!

OMG

In honor of Eclipse coming out this week . . . if you thought the people who stand in lines for twelve hours to see the Twilight movies were wonky, you weren’t wrong—but there are wonkier folks out there.  Here, Great White Snark gives us a dozen such psychopaths.

You Have a Question? I Have an Answer: Should You Query a Series?

“You Have a Question?  I Have an Answer” is a feature that answers real questions from real writers.

Q:  Ricki,

I’ve been told my WIP is too long.  I am currently trying to decide if I should edit it down to more agent-friendly word count or split it into two books.  The trouble is, if I were to split it, the first book would end on a such a cliffhanger that it would most certainly require a sequel.  I just don’t think it would stand alone.  That said, what are your thoughts on querying a series?

–L.H.

A: Thanks for the question!

In terms of ending on a cliffhanger, I can see how that might be tough to hook an agent as a stand-alone novel.  The first thing I’d say is—certainly—splitting a longer manuscript into two books isn’t going to be as simple as pasting half into one Word document and half into another.

Doing the splits with your manuscript isn't easy!

I’ve talked about this before on the blog: You’ve got to have two plots, or arcs—and you’ll want to make sure the first one is resolved because, in a series, each book must be able to stand on its own.  You also need to make sure you have an overarching arc that lends itself to a sequel or two.

As far as querying a series is concerned, you most likely don’t want to tell agents it’s a series.  Not yet.  Most agents don’t want to know you’ve got a seven-book series in the works when you query them because they want to be convinced the first is worth their time.

Being that there are this many stars in this movie and no one's ever heard of it (have they??) you'd thinking keeping mum wouldn't be a good idea. But in terms of querying a series, it is.

HOWEVER, when Suzi Agent is interested in your book and trends toward offering representation, she will ask you what else you’re working on—usually by way of a phone call—and that would be the time to spill.

Waiting until this conversation for the sequel/series reveal will work for you in a few ways.

First, it shows you’re savvy—you didn’t bombard her with grandiose plans of your multimillion-dollar series, like so many amateurs do.  Nope—you did what you had to do in order to ensure the first book was submission ready.  Go, you! And that tells her you’ve most likely been (or will be) just as careful in developing the rest of the books as you were with book 1.

As well, it shows you’re a hard worker.  Plotting out a series isn’t easy.  If you’ve got the chops to do something like that, it demonstrates you’re serious and tough—definitely in the top 10 requirements for being a novelist.

Hope this helps—and good luck with however you decide to handle your sitch!

Click here. You just have to.

In the Blogosphere: 3/15-3/19

“In the Blogosphere” is a weekly series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week.  Most posts will be from that week, but if I find some “oldies but goodies,” I’ll throw those up here as well.

I never find as much time to read blogs as I want, but here are a few posts that struck me this week.

RESOURCES

If you didn’t see my post about the Shenandoah Writers Query Symposium I’m helming, please check it out.  I’m looking to compile some of best query-writing resources out there and discuss them with my writing groups.  I plan to turn this “symposium” into a series of blog posts, so even if you’re not a member of Shenandoah Writers, give me your two cents (i.e., comment or e-mail with your favorite query resources or tips).  A few brave souls have even given me queries they’ve written so we can critique them, so there are multiple ways you can get involved.

This is an oldie but goodie.  It was actually written on my birthday in 2006 (but I digress) by the long-retired literary agent known to millions only by her scathing pseudonym, Miss SnarkShe gives the straight dope on your plot pitch versus a synopsis.

Here, mystery writer Elizabeth Spann Craig offers some ways to reveal a protagonist’s character through self discovery.

I recently discovered young adult fiction writer Jamie Harrington‘s blog, Totally the Bomb.com (love that name, BTW!).  And I’ve already found two posts I love.  In this one, Harrington talks about five clichés used in young adult lit.  And in this one, she dissects the classic love triangle.

My favorite thing about this picture is that they actually made Taylor Lautner stand on a box. Hilarious!

This is another oldie but goodie, but at her blog, The Bookshelf Muse, the Jill Corcoran-repped kids’ lit author Angela Ackerman has a great resource for conveying emotion through a character’s body language.  It’s not just for overcoming the five clichés Harrington outlines above, and it’s not just for juvenile lit.  In this post, Ackerman introduces the idea of the “emotion thesaurus,” (which provides alternatives to having a character shrug his shoulders or roll his eyes).  If you look in her sidebar on the right, she’s got a slew of entries under The Emotional Thesaurus.

PLATFORM, BABY

Blogging making you crazy?  Author Jody Hedlund offers some advice on what do to when your blog overwhelms you.

And here, Carol T. Cohn of Compukol Connection explains why you need to edit those pesky blog posts.

Shane Nickerson gives this amusing take on how Twitter slowly takes over your life.

Twitter zombie. Hey - not a bad idea for an urban fantasy! ;)

LITERARY AGENTS

Not sure whether to go with a big agency or a boutique agency?  Epstein Literary agent and founder Kate Epstein discusses the pros and cons of both.

Last week, Twitter was abuzz with talk of Lowenstein Associates, Inc., agent Kathleen Ortiz‘s blog post on query etiquette.  This week, she added an equally-as-important part two.

And I really felt for Caren Johnson Literary Agency‘s Elana Roth when she posted her thoughts on the protocol with regard to those queries/partials/fulls left hanging when a writer is offered representation.  Although she got a bit bashed in some of the comments, she started a discussion that I think needed to be addressed.  And she handled the backlash well.  Kudos!

POTTER PROVIDES HELP

Dudes—Harry Potter is on the brain! Like it or not, writers can learn a lot from J.K. Rowling‘s famous example.

Last week, I did a post on how to break up a manuscript of epic proportions, and I used the Potter series to illustrate dramatic arcs (in it, I outlined Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone‘s dramatic arc and discussed the overarching arc of the series).

This week, I’m seeing posts—left and right—using Rowling’s baby to illustrate all kinds of things.  Coincidence?  Actually, yes.  I’m not that important! As well, some of these posts are older:

  • Here, guest blogger Jim Adams talks “showing” and “telling” in scenes and dialogue on Jane Friedman‘s (of Writer’s Digest) blog, There Are No Rules.
  • In this post, Adams is at it again, giving tips on how to stretch the tension in a series.
  • On St. Patty’s Day, Adams addressed conflict, according to Potter.
  • Here, Friedman provides a complete list of links to all the posts in Adam’s 13-part series.
  • And the good folks over at guardian.co.uk‘s Book Blog talk about character names in fantasy (but the post will interest writers of all genres)—with special attention to The Series that Need Not Be Named.

"Ohhhhh, Accio DEATHLY HALLOWS." --Hank Green

IN THE NEWS

Business Wire reported that Follett, college textbook wholesaler, will join forces with Bookrenter to start a textbook rental program.  Where was this when I was in grad school?

CONTEST

Are you a Jane Austen fan?  Adept at writing queries?  Here’s a contest over at Getting Past the Gatekeeper that combines both of these things—write a query as if you wrote, and are pitching, Pride and Prejudice!

CLINK!

Last, but not least, congratulations are in order.  My Writer’s Digest Books editor pal Chuck Sambuchino got a mention in Publishers Weekly for his upcoming humor book . . .

. . . and in the same post, it was announced that young adult fantasy author Beth Revis signed a huuuuuge three-book deal (I don’t really know her, but we have some mutual friends and I’m deciding to share in her excitement).

Congrats, peeps!

A toast to you!

Shenandoah Writers: Query Symposium

I’m a bit behind with my Shenandoah Writers monthly meeting post, but that’s because we decided to take a break from reading Brian Kiteley’s The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises that Transform Your Fiction at the March 2 meeting.

We got to talking about the query process and decided we’d do what we’re calling a “query symposium” at the April 6 meeting.

Attendees will bring examples of queries we’ve written—for both novels and publications—as well as our own areas of expertise (in terms of what has/hasn’t worked), and we’ll go over every last sentence.  I’d also like to see everyone bring in books about/ links to their favorite query resources.

BUT I DON’T LIVE ANYWHERE NEAR YOU, DUH . . .

If you can’t make it to the meeting because either you’re busy or, y’know, you live in England or Rhode Island or something, I’d still like to have you get involved.  This discussion is open to anyone out there who wants to be a part of it.

Therefore, if any of you out there in the blogosphere have something you’d like to contribute—either as something to be critiqued, a favorite source for all things query-related, or a piece of querying advice from your own personal experiences—please shoot me an e-mail.  **Ooh—queries that worked out for you would be good—again, for both manuscripts and articles.**

I will likely compile my notes from the IRL query symposium right here on the blog so my readers as well as Shenandoah Writers & Shenandoah Writers Online will have a great place to turn during the query process.

In the Blogosphere: 3/8 – 3/12

“In the Blogosphere” is a weekly series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week.  Most posts will be from that week, but if I find some “oldies but goodies,” I’ll throw those up here as well.

I never find as much time to read blogs as I want, but here are a few posts that struck me this week.

QUERY FAIL

I’ve heard of being a query spammer (addressing an e-query to every agent in the country), but this is ridiculous.  Notorious query spammer Oscar Whitfield ruins it for all of us—but his 7,000 rejections should make one feel better about one’s fraction of that many rejections.

Agent Jennifer Jackson of Donald Maass Literary Agency tallies her queries, and guess what: over half of the queries she receives do not follow the submission guidelines close enough to be considered.

Tsk, tsk, tsk . . . I’m not sure what’s worse, Oscar Whitfield’s query bombs or some of the things Lowenstein Associates, Inc.’s Kathleen Ortiz says authors are guilty of when it comes to their query etiquette—or their lack thereof.

RESOURCES

Listy listy.  The good people over at Guardian.co.uk have compiled lists of writing tips from several writers—including the likes of the inimitable Neil Gaiman and Margaret Atwood—in the spirit of Elmore Leonard‘s 10 Rules for Writing Fiction .

Although she said Janet Reid wrote it, middle-grade and young adult sci-fi writer Blee Bonn put my guest blog about the FinePrint Literary agent’s query tips at the top of her “Awesome Advice (for Writers)” post.  Yay!

In this Writer’s Digest oldie-but-goodie post, find out what agents hate (as relayed by Guide to Literary Agents editor Chuck Sambuchino).

On his Web site, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers Michael Hyatt discusses the importance of defending your “brand” in the digital age.

UP FOR DISCUSSION

In case you missed my announcement earlier in the week, I did a little guest blogging about leetspeak (“text message lingo”) and the ramifications of its increased acceptance in young adult lit over at Australian author Steph Bowe‘s blog this week.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

DOWN TIME

Are you a workaholic?  Over at zenhabits, guest blogger Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist talks about the importance of resting.

Need something to distract you?  Check out Letterblox over at OMGPOP.

CONTESTS

Over at Inky Fresh Press, Kate announces a call for submissions as well as a contest at Narrative, an online publisher and nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the literary arts in the digital age.

As well, Writer’s Digest is hosting their 79th annual writing contest with a chance to win $3,000 and a trip to New York City.

SHEDDING SOME LIGHT

Been getting lots of rejections without much feeback?  Here, D4EO literary agent Mandy Hubbard offers some reasons she passes on fulls.

If you’re looking for some “inside” information, the people over at BubbleCow divulge 7 secrets publisher don’t want writers to know.

Have you ever wondered how book covers come to be?  On Orbit, Laura Panepinto posted a YouTube video on that very subject.

Think you’re a diva?  Not sure?  The Waxman Literary Agency offers three questions to ask yourself in order to find out.

Or . . . ask yourself if you're Aretha Franklin. No? Okay, you're probably not then.

THINGS THAT MAKE ME SLIGHTLY SICK

I know Wicked was The Wizard of Oz seen in a new way—and I love it (well, the musical).  However, if they remake it á là Tim Burton, as per this Los Angeles Times article, I may actually vomit.

First The Hills‘s Lauren Conrad and now Hilary Duff?  *tear*

RANDOM

Apparently, certain words and phrases—like “seek” and “flee”—are too sophisticated for people to use outside of print.  Well, that’s what Robert Feder says the higher-ups at WGN believe, anyway.

I loves me some Coco.  And, according to USA Today, O’Brien has changed the life of the one, random Twitter follower he’s chosen.

I loves me some Cleveland Cavaliers, as well.  And, according to Cleveland.com, Eastlake, Ohio, resident Jerry Tomko and a radio essay contest are responsible for the team’s name.  (I’m so proud, having grown up five minutes from Eastlake!)

I’m so excited!  Jodi Meadows and I are going to YA author Maggie Stiefvater‘s book signing in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday.  Will you be there?

In the Blogosphere: 2/15-2/26

“In the Blogosphere” is a weekly series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week.  Most posts will be from that week, but if I find some “oldies but goodies,” I’ll throw those up here as well.

I never find as much time to read blogs as I want, but here are a few posts that struck me this week—and last week, as I slacked and didn’t do a Blogosphere post last week.

SOME SPLAININ’ TO DO

I don’t know if it was just the places I was checking, but it seemed like a lot of industry peeps wanted to explain a lot of things to writers this week.  Maybe the winter freeze is making people write bad queries?  Or maybe it’s making writers whinier?

Among my favorite entries were by WordServe Literary‘s Rachelle Gardner and Carina Press‘s Angela James.

On her blog, Gardner explains why lit agencies have submission guidelines as well as why she might reject one’s work after she’s requested a partial or full.

James explains why they don’t give personalized rejections as well as why manuscripts are rejected in the first place.

LIT AGENTS

Ever a sweetie, Curtis Brown Ltd.‘s Nathan Bransford reminds us, as writers, to appreciate our biggest supporters, our loved ones.

Love you—and thanks for everything, Kyley T!

Over at Greyhaus Literary, Scott Eagan gives some advice on how to write young adult lit—or how not to write it.

This post on titles by FinePrint Literary‘s Janet Reid made me laugh, and it also answered some questions I had about the process.

RESOURCES

On her blog, Write on Target, YA and women’s fiction writer Debra L. Schubert posted this vlog, wherein she and her agent, Bernadette Baker-Baughman of Baker’s Mark Literary Agency talk publishing.

Being that much of my job now relies on waiting for responses from others, this post, by Peter Bregman over at Harvard Business Review, helps put a lot in perspective in terms of what to do when your voicemails and e-mails go unanswered.

Ring, dammit, ring!

QUERY HELP

On her Web site, kids’ lit author Hélène Boudreau makes writing queries look easy with this breakdown.

Here, Nathan Bransford talks about the difference between being savvy and sucking up; and here, he discusses the theory some have about querying in batches.

For another take on dissecting queries, check out QueryTracker‘s Query Ninja, Elana Johnson.  We’ve got sharks, we’ve got ninjas . . . what’s next? :)

. . . And here two takes on post-query etiquette:

-and-

TONGUE-IN-CHEEK QUERY HELP

On her Probably Just a Story blog, Laura Ellen Scott parodies Writer’s Digest‘s 21 tips on how to get out of the slush pile.

REALITY CHECKS

Andrea Brown Literary Agency‘s Mary Kole reminds us that getting an agent is not a magic bullet to publication; and, in this post, The Intern talks about why agents and editors would *like* to set you straight when you send bad queries—or non queries, as it were—(but why they just can’t).

As seen on TV.

CONTESTS

Some awesome peeps are giving away some awesome prizes!

Break out your tap shoes: Kids’ lit author, the award-winning Beth Kephart wants to know your definition of dance.  She’s giving away signed copies of her second YA novel, House of Dance, to two lucky commenters with the best entries (contest ends March 5).

Want to have your fiction published in Writer’s Digest?  Here, WD’s Zachary Petit lays out how to enter their monthly Your Story contest.

The paperback, out this March.

ALSO

Check out my recent interview with Books & Such Literary Agency‘s Etta Wilson on the Guide to Literary Agents blog.

Writer’s Digest and Writer’s Digest Books is calling for reviews and success stories, so show them some love, if you’ve ever used one of their trillions of resources and hearted it.

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