Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Maybe you've submitted your first chapter, maybe you haven't. If not, polish that baby up and submit it. Make sure you read over the rules, then send it in. I know of one talented QT'er who has received a full request from this contest. You've still got fifteen days until the deadline, and this would be a great goal for the new year. It's just one chapter. One bitty chapter. Oh, and then get the rest of your novel in tip top shape for when that full request comes.
Our goal here at the QueryTracker blog is to bring you agency news and contests, and this is the first installment. You can click here to see what Authoress has up her sleeve in January, and we'll post specifics as they are leaked on anything else we hear about.
Subscribe or follow us so you don't miss anything.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
If you're a veteran of the query process, you know how hard it can be to keep track of agent information, submissions, and the responses to your submissions. Maybe you've spent hours digging through Writer's Market or printing off pages from AgentQuery or PublishersMarketplace. Maybe you've created elaborate tables, spreadsheets, or lists. You've almost certainly found yourself thinking, There has to be an easier way to do this.
QueryTracker.net not only helps writers find agents, it gives them a way to organize their notes, their submissions, and their responses in one convenient place. As writers record their experiences with different agents, that information is compiled, analyzed, and returned in the form of agent-specific trends and statistics. As a result, writers can make informed decisions about who to query and what to expect when they do.
In 2008, QueryTracker.net first made Writer's Digest's popular Top 101 Sites for Writers list.
(And best of all, QueryTracker.net is free! An affordable premium subscription is available if you want even more data and statistics.)
QueryTracker.net Forum is a community of QueryTracker.net users who support one another and help each other out. Newcomers are always welcome, and members are enthusiastic about helping with query letters, synopses, and the first five pages of manuscripts. There are also areas to share information about literary agents, find out about scams and scammers, and just have a little fun!
RallyStorm is a social networking site that takes the best ideas from places like Facebook and combines them with the best ideas from places like Google Groups. Once you've become a RallyStorm member, you can join one of the many existing groups or create one of your own. Your groups can be small private forums for family or friends only, or large public forums to interact with others who share your interests.
Since many of the earliest members of RallyStorm are actually QueryTracker users, you will find a number of groups dedicated to writers, most of them open to newcomers. Some of the most popular are YA Authors on RallyStorm, Adult Fiction, the NaNoWriMo Support Group, Speculative Fiction Authors, and Romance Writers of RallyStorm.
Go and check them out!
Monday, December 29, 2008
(Be sure to check out Part I from yesterday!
You've perfected your masterpiece and begun the submission process. Perhaps you have a partial, or maybe even a full, in the hands of an agent. You obsessively check your email every five minutes and jump each time the phone rings. In short, you no longer have control over your own project, which can leave you feeling discombobulated. Now what?
The following characteristics will help you through the times ahead - and improve your odds of reaching publication.
Characteristic 5: Professionalism
Understand that publishing is a business, and that agents and editors are trying to find books publishers—and eventually readers—will want to spend their hard-earned money to buy. That means you need to conduct yourself like a professional. While this might seem obvious, you must treat everyone you deal with, from agents’ assistants all the way up to publishing heads, with courtesy. Even if you don’t like what they’re telling you.
Never send hate mail back to agents or editors. (You might be surprised how often publishing professionals have to deal with this.) Also realize that form responses are normal — if you had to read hundreds of queries every month, you’d send them too! Don't take rejection as a personal attack—it's just business.
Characteristic 6: Patience
It takes patience to see your dream of being published come true. Not only patience to write the book—which doesn't happen in a single sitting—but patience to wait for responses from beta readers, critique groups, and then agents, editors, and publishers. Some respond immediately. Some are a little slower, but will respond eventually. And some won’t respond at all. In each case, your patience will be tried.
Characteristic 7: Luck
Before you decide that you’re doomed because you’ve never won the lottery (or even a door prize drawing), you need to know that we’re talking about the kind of luck you make for yourself. There is an old Chinese tenet, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” So first, be prepared. And then cultivate your own luck. Lucky writers behave in ways that create good fortune in their lives. For example, they read agent and industry blogs (like this one!) to get a feel for what different agents like. They notice and act upon chance opportunities, follow their intuition, look for the bright side of every situation, and are certain their future is promising. Their outlook becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy, creating the perfect environment for “luck” to flourish. Remember, it only takes one positive response!
Put All Those Characteristics Together: Indomitable Spirit
Incorporating these seven traits will result in the indomitable spirit necessary to succeed in the publishing industry. What is Indomitable Spirit? It’s an attitude or state of mind in which you are impossible to frighten or defeat. Never, never, never give up on your dreams.
“People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
About the Authors
Elana Johnson finished college against nearly-impossible odds, a struggle much like dealing with the publishing world. Visit her at http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com/ for more publishing insights. Visit psychologist/writer Carolyn Kaufman at http://archetypewriting.com/ and learn more about how to use psychology accurately in your writing. Find “The Bone Setter,” Suzette Saxton’s most recently published work, here: http://www.mindflights.com/item.php?sub_id=4283.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
This article was referenced in the last QT newsletter, but I think it bears some repeating. In my mind—which is a pretty scary place to be—when I wrote this with my colleagues, I split the characteristics into two groups. So the first installment is below, and the second half will come tomorrow.
The first three characteristics deal with the writing process--the qualities you need to obtain to write the best book possible. The fourth, perseverance, is an overlapping quality you need to not only produce the best work you can, but also what you need to find the literary agent and editor who can bring your brilliance to print.
Agents and editors deal with hundreds of queries, synopses, proposals, and chapters every month. Whether you realize it or not, your approach to the process has a lot to do with whether or not your work will ever reach publication. Here are the 7 characteristics necessary to achieving your dreams!
Characteristic 1: Commitment to Growth
The first thing every real writer needs is a willingness to learn and grow. All agents or editors—no matter how busy—are interested in quality work. The first step: write the best book you can. That means you’ll probably need to brush up on grammar, syntax, sentence structure, and plotting. Don’t give someone an excuse to reject your work because you’ve either never learned or forgotten how to write in an active voice.
Research local or online writing workshops and sign up for a writing conference or two to jump start your creative juices and brush up on what it takes to become a published author. Join a critique group to help yourself develop a critical eye for grammar, sentence structure and plot in the writing of others. Then apply what you learn to your own writing. When you view writing as a life-long learning experience, you've taken the first step to becoming published.
Characteristic 2: Humility
Completing a project is an accomplishment, and one you should be proud of—just not too proud to miss places you still might be able to improve. Chances are, you did forget a comma somewhere. Or spelled a word wrong. Or didn't tie up that loose end. Or tried to cram in too many subplots. Or something. When you share your work with critique buddies, really listen to their feedback. If an agent is kind enough to offer advice, thank him or her and then consider making the changes to your manuscript.
Characteristic 3: Self-Confidence
On the flip-side of humility is self-confidence; you’ll need both in equal measure. Not to be confused with arrogance—there is a difference! Getting published is usually an uphill battle. Everyone along the way will have an opinion about your work, and not all of those opinions will be positive! Most agents reject between 95% and 99% of all queries they see, and editors are even harder to win over.
Even after you make it through the gauntlet of agents, editors, and other decision-makers, you’ll have to face book reviewers and bloggers. You must believe in yourself enough not only to go through the whole process, but also to endure the onslaught that follows. Once you've acquired the skills of a writer, a sense of self-confidence will help you recognize that your hours of research, learning, and growing are going to pay off.
Characteristic 4: Perseverance
Once you've produced the very best story you can, built your self-confidence, and balanced it with humility, it’s time to submit. Research agents and editors and only submit to those who are a good match for your project. And don't just submit to one agent or editor. Or two. Or even ten. Keep going until you find one who loves your work!
And don't stop writing while you submit. Maybe your first book won’t make as big of a splash as you’re hoping. Maybe your second—or your fifth—novel will be the one to land that dream agent and publishing contract. Author Dan Brown published three books before he scored a worldwide bestseller with The DaVinci Code.
Watch for the second half of this article to be posted tomorrow. I think it deals more with qualities you need when you're ready to begin the agent hunt. In the meantime, since it's the New Year and all, set a writing goal for this year. Maybe to be more committed to excellence in writing, gaining humility or building up your self-confidence.
Be sure to read Part II, coming tomorrow!
Saturday, December 27, 2008
As the members of the new QT Blog team, we wanted to introduce ourselves!
I am 35-years-old, married, and I work as the Clinical and Academic Director for the Hospitalist Program at a pediatric teaching hospital near Chicago. I love that I can now combine my work as a pediatrician with training future physicians.
I'm also seeking representation for my novel, The Edge of Memory. In addition to all things literary (which includes grilling my legion of test readers), I enjoy experimental cooking and composing impromptu parodies to annoy close friends and family.
I wish I could experience my first kiss again, tell the mean girl where to shove it, and have cool superpowers like reading minds and controlling fire. To fulfill my desires, I write young adult science fiction and fantasy.
Carolyn Kaufman (who posts as “Archetype”)
I’m a clinical psychologist. Though I used to do therapy, I currently teach college full-time in Columbus, Ohio. A published nonfiction writer, I also run Archetype Writing: Psychology for Fiction Writers.
I enjoy working with journalists, and I’m often quoted by the media as an expert resource in psychology. I’ve appeared in magazines like Marie Claire and Seventeen, newspapers like The Boston Globe, and books like Andrea Kay’s Work’s a Bitch and Then You Make It Work.
I write science fantasy and urban fantasy, sometimes with romantic elements. I’m currently seeking representation for my novel. My nonfiction book, Nervous Breakdowns and Psychopathic Killers: The Writer’s Guide to Psychology is represented by Kate Epstein of Epstein Literary.
When I’m not writing or teaching, I can usually be found tinkering with websites, taking photographs, or torturing myself at the gym.
My story, The Bone Setter, was published in the Summer 2008 edition of Mindflights ezine and recently re-released in their best-of-the-best Volume 3 print edition.
Our Dancin' Elvish Selves
In the spirit of the holidays (and our sometimes-wacky personalities), we wanted to include a shot of us all together...
Thursday, December 25, 2008
I had to sneak out here before then to remind you to check out RallyStorm if you haven't lately. Patrick upgraded the site today (what a great Christmas gift to us all!) with a new look and lots of new features.
The community hosts plenty of fantastic forums, including many for writers. And don't be afraid to join a forum that already exists -- it's a friendly community, and the more the merrier!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I'll let them introduce themselves and tell us a little about their writing and their query experiences.
Again I thank them, and wish everyone a Merry Christmas.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
- Fielding the Call: A List of Questions to Ask by Carolyn Kaufman and Elana Johnson
- You may also be interested in Elana Johnson's e-book, From the Query to the Call
- The Dreaded Pitch – What to Include in That One Line by Joanna Stampfel-Volpe of Nancy Coffey Literary
- The Oral Pitch by Mary Lindsey
- Building YOUR Platform by Carolyn Kaufman
- Interview with Get Known Before the Book Deal author Christina Katz on Platform
- Interview with Literary Agent Kate Epstein on Platform
- Cover Letters for Snail Submissions by Elana Johnson
- Writing the Query Letter Part 1 - The Hook by Elana Johnson
- Writing the High-Concept Hook by Elana Johnson
- Writing the Query Letter Part 2 - The Setup by Elana Johnson
- Writing the Query Letter Part 3 - The Conflict by Elana Johnson
- Writing the Query Letter Part 4 - The Consequence by Elana Johnson
- Writing the Query Letter Part 5 - Everything Else by Elana Johnson
- Be a Google Ninja: Finding ANYTHING on the Web Part I by Carolyn Kaufman
- Be a Google Ninja: Finding ANYTHING on the Web Part II by Carolyn Kaufman
- Turning Grief into Gold by Suzette Saxton
- Quantum of Synopsis - Novel Synopsis Basics by HL Dyer
- In Short: Writing a Novel Synopsis that Rocks by HL Dyer
WRITING WHEN YOU HAVE KIDS
- Writing Under the Influence of Children by Suzette Saxton
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
H.L. Dyer works as the Clinical and Academic Director for the Hospitalist Program at a pediatric teaching hospital near Chicago. She loves that she can now combine her work as a pediatrician with training future physicians.
Her novel, THE EDGE OF MEMORY, is represented by Katherine Boyle of Veritas Literary Agency. In addition to all things literary (which includes grilling her legion of test readers), she enjoys experimental cooking and composing impromptu parodies to annoy close friends and family.
Mary Lindsey writes paranormal fiction and lives on the Texas Gulf Coast with her husband, three kids, two dogs, her daughter's pet rats, an Australian Bearded Dragon and dozens of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. (The roaches are long story—don't ask.)
Mary is represented by the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Her young adult paranormal romance, SHATTERED SOULS (Philomel/Penguin), is scheduled for release Fall 2011.
Prior to attending University of Houston Law School, Mary received a B.A. in English Literature with a minor in Drama from the University of Houston. She's taught drama and playwriting in a large public high school and English in a private school. Currently, she teaches acting to children and teens at a private studio. She's a member of The Writer's League of Texas, SCBWI, RWA and WH-RWA.
Elana is the author of FROM THE QUERY TO THE CALL, an ebook that covers everything you need to know about querying and securing a literary agent. She will be speaking at a conference in April 2010, covering the topics of querying the national market and writing a killer query letter.
Elana is represented by Michelle Andelman at Lynn C. Franklin Associates.
She wishes she could experience her first kiss again, tell the mean girl where to shove it, and have cool superpowers like reading minds and controlling fire. To fulfill her desires, she writes young adult science fiction and fantasy.
She runs a personal blog on writing as well as a query critique blog.
Carolyn Kaufman has a doctorate in clinical psychology and teaches college full-time in Columbus, Ohio. She is represented by Kate Epstein of the Epstein Literary Agency and her first book, THE WRITER'S GUIDE TO PSYCHOLOGY: How to Write Accurately About Psychological Disorders, Clinical Treatment and Human Behavior (Quill Driver Books) is slated for an autumn 2010 release.
In addition to her work on the QueryTracker.net Blog, she runs Archetype: Psychology for Fiction Writers, where writers will find articles about psychology tailored to their needs. They can also ask her their writing/psychology questions and read the answers on the Archetype Writing blog.
She is often quoted by the media as an expert resource and has appeared in magazines such as Marie Claire and Seventeen, newspapers like The Boston Globe and The Plain Dealer, and books like Andrea Kay’s Work’s a Bitch and then You Make It Work.
Suzette Saxton is a stay-home mom of three children, two of them beautiful and one of them a teenager. She writes fiction for children of all ages and is represented by Suzie Townsend of FinePrint Literary Management.
You can find Suzette volunteering at the school library on Wednesdays, mentoring teen writers through the Literati Outreach program on Saturdays, and reading to her own children every day of the week. Though occasionally she can be forced to take a walk in the lovely little canyon in which she lives, at all other times you can find her writing.
The Bone Setter, her short story inspired by a dream, was published in Mindflights Magazine's ezine and later republished in their print edition. She has a special love of dark fairy tales and very old nursery rhymes. You can find Suzette on Twitter, Facebook, her personal blog, or her website.
Last updated: April 3, 2010
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Though not exclusively for writers, I believe that writers can get a lot of use out of it. The site is called RallyStorm.com and it is a kind of social networking site but with a twist. RallyStorm allows users to create and manager their own forums. Invite just the people you want, or make it open to the public. A small group of testers (writers of course) have been using it quite successfully for private critique groups. RallyStorm for Writers.
I hope you will stop by and give it a try. Don't forget to drop by my profile and say hello.
Here is how one of our members (kiddoc) described it.
Basically, RallyStorm is a social networking site, in some ways similar to MySpace or Facebook.
As a Rallystorm member, you have a profile where you can include information about yourself. You can designate other users as “friends”, post comments on their profile pages, and send virtual gifts. But unlike other sites where your profile is the focus, at Rallystorm it’s just a small part of your ways to connect.
Rallystorm allows you to create and manage your own FORUMS. Your forums can be personal or public, open to anyone or invitation only.
Want to create a public forum to discuss Barack Obama or Paris Hilton or Project Runway or Knitting Techniques? Done.
Want a private forum to post pictures of your kids and talk about them with your family and friends? Sure.
Need a private site for easy group discussion by your test readers on your latest work in progress? Rallystorm can do that too.
Create a virtual Book Club. Discuss the latest breaking news. Form a Chocoholics Support Group. Pretty much anything you can think of to discuss, you can find or make a place to do it.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Other members on the forum have procured representation, sold short stories, or just celebrated the completion of a new novel. All these things are a measure of success, and your successes are our successes. So as we venture into our second year here at Querytracker.net, we want to say thank you, both for being a part of our first year, and for giving us our own measure of recognition by voting for us as one of Writer's Digest's top 101 websites for writers. We are proud of that recognition, and we are proud of you! Keep writing!!
Patrick and Jason
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Noah Lukeman, author of The First Five Pages and former literary agent has made his book How to Write a Great Query Letter available online for free. Thanks, Noah. This book is a great resource for writers, as it gives them an inside look at what a lot of agents are really looking for in the ever-so-crucial query letter. As Mr. Lukeman states, so many writers spend months and years writing and polishing their book and then unintentionally shoot themselves in the foot by dashing off a query in a matter of minutes. Even if your work is Pulitzer-quality, no one will ever see it if you can't convince an agent with a well crafted query that it is worth their time to investigate further. I urge everyone to go to the link and get this book RIGHT NOW!! Just click on the title of this post and it will take you there. Keep writing!
Saturday, February 9, 2008
But what about the second draft?
While I am not saying that this is the only way to go about revising your work, it is a great place to start. Believe me, I don't care if you're Hemingway, your first draft needs work. We've all heard that most of writing is re-writing, and I am a subscriber to that theory. The first draft is all about blasting out those words and getting the story down. Once that's done, the real work begins.