QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Writing Community

Okay, so I’ve given up forums in a (possibly futile) attempt to get more writing done. I’m on freeze for 30 days, and I’ve survived 8 so far. It hasn’t been so bad. After all, I have a strong web of friends I can email.

Where did I “meet” those friends?

Online. In forums and other places writers hang out. The online writing community is a thing of wonder, beauty, and friendship. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked how I got my crit partners, my beta readers, etc.

My answer is always the same: Hang out where writers hang out.

So today I'm encouraging you to participate in the writing community in the way you think will benefit you the most. There's no way on this planet you can do it all, but if you're feeling lost or alone, consider spending a few minutes each day with like-minded people. I think it can make all the difference in the world.

QueryTracker forum. Many people don't notice the "Visit the QT forum" button on the main site. The QTF is a great place to get advice, feedback, and friendship.

AgentQuery connect. This interactive forum is broken down into groups, where you can offer critiques, talk about writing and genres, and make connections with other authors.

Verla Kay "blue boards." This is mainly for children's writers and illustrators, and provides a great place to learn the ropes and make friendships within a specific genre.

Twitter. Specifically the #chats. I follow #YAlitchat and #scifi chats, but there are many many others. Even if all you do is lurk in on these conversations, you're going to find something useful. And hey, you might meet someone there who'll become an important beta reader or critique partner later on.

Absolute Write Water Cooler. Many industry pros frequent these boards, but I've found them the most useful for researching agents.

Blogs. This is where my true obsession lies. I love to read and comment on blogs. I also (try to) respond via email to comments left on my blog, and many of my writerly friendships have bloomed out of this. Click here for a list of blogs you can't live without (via Angela Ackerman) and here for my list of Wicked Awesome bloggers.

From the comments:
More blogs: Nathan Bransford, Query Shark (Janet Reid) and The Literary Lab. (Thanks Rick!) Kristin Nelson (Thanks Paul!)

Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. (Thanks rsgarcia!) I meant to include this, but forgot. This is a great place to meet people and get honest critiques from people who know the genres. There is an affiliated Yahoo group, which I also failed to mention. Yahoo groups are a fabulous way to keep in touch and meet other writers.

BroadUniverse, an organization dedicated to promoting women writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. It's a place to meet other writers and promote your work, not just online but at conventions as well. There's also a Yahoo! writing group and a page on Facebook. (Thanks Sandra!!)

SCBWI boards. If you're a member, you have access to a wealth of information, including a forum. Great place to find local people you can form writing relationships with. (Thanks Kristi!)

Dreaming in Ink Writing Workshop. (Thanks domynoe!)

I hope you've found someone, somewhere that helps you through your writing journey. I think the online writing community is one of the most supportive places, and I love spending time out on the Interwebs, making connections, and sharing the ride.

That said, remember to do what works for you. Only have a few minutes? Start with something small. Need all your spare time to write? By all means, do that. I'm not saying your participation in the online writing community should come before other things you deem more important. I'm just sharing a little slice of what I've found out there, and how it's benefited me.

Where do you hang out? Who have you met there that's shaped you as a writer? What have you learned from participating in the online writing community? I'd love to hear what you have to say!

Oh, and don't forget about our upcoming agent-judged contest! Click here for all the details.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Goals Make Dreams Reality: Guest Blogger Danyelle Leafty

Our guest blogger, Danyelle Leafty, has been an active member of the QT community for a while now. She is a positive, generous and talented member of our forum over on the main QueryTracker.net site.

Goals by Danyelle Leafty

A dream is a wish your heart makes, when you're fast asleep...

And we all have dreams, right?

I dream that one day I will be caught up on housework. That I will be able to cook gourmet meals that everyone will not only eat, but love to eat. That I will be able to find those important papers WHEN I need them, and not a week later.

And then there are other dreams--the ones I know can come true.

One day I will be published. I will be the best mom and wife I can be, because I will be the best person I can be--and my capacity for "bestness" will change based on a whole slew of things including atmospheric pressure, and it's okay. I will have a full, happy life, no matter what I get hit with. I will celebrate. I will find joy.

But how to turn these dreams into a reality? For me, the first step is positive thinking.

If I don't believe it's going to happen, it won't. (Except for rare cases like laundry, dirty dishes, and taxes.) I have to believe that, while things may not turn out exactly how I envision them from the beginning, that they'll happen. Because not believing in your own dreams is like slamming the oven door on a delicate soufflé. There is no substitute for believing in yourself. Your family can't do it. Your friends can't do it. Your associates and neighbors can't do it.

But they can help when the storm clouds roll in and you watch the waters begin to rise. They can help plug those tiny leaks in the roof that you hadn't noticed before. They can help fill sandbags and lay them out. And if worse comes to worse, they can bring along a bucket and a boat if you need to bail or make a quick getaway.

But something that really struck me, was the need for goals.

A dream is just a wish until it's written down. Then it becomes a goal and has a chance of turning into a reality.

To be honest, my publishing goal was modest. My goal is to find an agent that I connect with who will then find a publisher that will love my project. *clears throat* And then I will have to figure out how to find an audience who will be willing to help support my book habits.

But all that changed while I was at a writing conference. I was listening to a panel of authors that were all doing very well for themselves, one of whom happened to be Aprilynne Pike. They were talking about the pros and cons of having an agent and going with a larger or smaller press.

I perked up at this point, because if the agent plan didn't pan out, I was considering going with a smaller press. And then she brought up that GOAL word. Deciding where and to whom you submit to has a lot to do not only with the industry, but with your goals.

From the outset, she wanted to be a very successful author that reached a larger audience. (I can't remember completely, but she might have mentioned something about the NYT Bestseller list.) And a small press, with that goal in mind, wouldn't work as well as finding an agent who would then submit to one of the bigger publishing houses. This also meant that she had to write to that broader audience.

I thought this was brilliant advice, and decided to follow it. I've found that having a goal to be published by one of the bigger houses and possibly make NYT Bestsellerdom changes the way I look at writing. If I want to reach a broad audience, I can't just write for myself. Make no mistake, I still write from my heart, but I do so consciously. I have a story to tell (lots of them, actually), and darn it, I want to reach the most people I can. Not because I want my head on a postage stamp, but because I believe I have something of value, and I want to share. (That, and have you seen how many awesome books have come out lately? :p)

Having this goal has also shaped how I'm approaching the agent hunting as well. Rejections, while not a barrel full of fun, don't sting the way they used to. Because my goal has changed. I'm not just wanting an agent, I'm wanting to find my agent. The one who will believe in me when nobody else (in the industry) does. An agent who will get my work, love it, and help me take it to the next level. Not just someone who likes my work enough to take a chance. I finally get the whole falling in love thing.

So when those rejections come, its more like sitting in a shoe store surrounded by shoes and tissue paper rather than sitting against the wall at prom. The rejections aren't cute boys avoiding eye contact and shuffling past at high speeds, leaving me to wonder if I used enough deodorant or if I forgot to tame the unibrow. No, it's more like trying on a shoe and finding that it doesn't fit as well as I'd hoped.

But somewhere under all that tissue paper is the one shoe. The one that will not only fit, but will work so well that I will feel as though I'm walking on clouds because I can't feel the hard ground anymore.

So, back to dreams.

Want to have your dreams come true? Then pick the ones that must come true--that you will see through to the end whether it's bitter or sweet. Believe in yourself, and find lots of people (also called friends) that can help buoy you up and believe in you when your well runs dry. Write down your dream, thus changing it from a vague wisp of wonderfulness into something that can breathe in reality. Write those goals down to make them real and to remind yourself when you need it most.

Because goals not only have the power to change your perspective, they have the power to change the world.


* * *

We appreciate Danyelle agreeing to be our guest today. You can read more from and about Danyelle on her blog.

The QT team wishes everyone a happy and productive week.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Agent-judged Contest - Twitter Style!

Suzie Townsend of FinePrint Literary Management has graciously agreed to judge an adult fiction contest. (For completed manuscripts only.)

What to enter: A Twitter-style pitch (140 characters or less, including spaces)

Entries WILL NOT  be capped. (Yay!)

Entry period will be 24 hours: From noon Tuesday, July 6 - noon Wednesday, July 7.

These are the genres Ms. Townsend will be judging:

  • Adult Science Fiction
  • Adult Fantasy
  • Adult Urban Fantasy
  • All subgenres of Adult Romance
  • Adult Thrillers

To enter this contest:

  1. You must have a free QueryTracker membership
  2. You must be a follower of the QueryTracker blog (Followers Widget at right)
  3. Your submission will be accepted on the submission form (won't be available until the contest opens) 
  4. DO NOT EMAIL YOUR SUBMISSION DIRECTLY TO THE AGENT. You will be disqualified if you do.

    Helpful links on pitching at Elana Johnson's blog.
    Literary agent Laura Rennert helps you build your pitch. 

    Literary agent Rachelle Gardner reveals the secrets of a great pitch.
    Chris Richman has a word about pitches and what makes them work.

    Suzette Saxton writes books for tots, teens, and in-betweens. She is represented by Suzie Townsend of FinePrint Literary.

    Friday, June 25, 2010

    Publishing Pulse 6/25/10

    It's been an amazing week in the blogosphere:

    New Agent
    Christine Mervart has joined Anderson Literary Management and is seeking Literary Fiction and Short Story Collections; in Non-Fiction she is seeking Celebrity, Pop Culture, Music, Film & Entertainment, History & Military, and Narrative.

    Free Conference
    Our own Elana Johnson has, with the help of a handful of authors, arranged for an online writer's conference featuring agents, editors, and other industry professionals. WriteOnCon is free; registration opens Thursday, July 1st.

    Cool Stuff on the Web
    Editorial Ass gives the inside scoop on why first pages are so important.

    On KidLit.com Being Too Close to a Manusctipt and When to Tell Instead of Show.

    Nathan Bransford spills on why he writes vague rejection letters and the importance of salutations.

    Rachelle Gardener opened herself up to some very interesting Q&As.

    Kristin Nelson dishes on the downside of multi-book deals.

    The Adventurous Writer reveals the 5 biggest mistakes writers make.

    GLA covers cleaning up formatting in a query and the five stages of querying.

    Lucienne Driver talks about how to become a leader in fiction trends instead of a follower.

    Former FinePrint intern guest blogs on Suzie Townsend's blog about the YA Query.

    Contest News
    Watch this weekend for a special announcement about our adult fiction contest, which will open on Tuesday, July 6th.

    Thanks for dropping in!

    Suzette Saxton writes books for tots, teens, and in-betweens. She is represented by Suzie Townsend of FinePrint Literary.

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010

    Pitching to Agents: A Survivor's Story

    We welcome back to the blog Shannon Messenger! She's got it goin' on, because well, just read what she has to say about pitching agents at a conference. Face-to-face. Yikes.

    I went to my first writer’s conference in January, and because I was determined to walk away with as much feedback as possible, I signed up for five pitch sessions. FIVE. All to agents I was dreaming of querying in the near future. Yeah…it was terrifying.

    I’ll end your suspense now and tell you that I ended up with page requests from 4 out of 5 of those pitches—believe me, no one was more surprised than me. And I really can’t take the credit. I did a lot of research before I prepared my pitch, and I found some pointers that were invaluable.

    The first ones seem basic, but you’d be amazed how easy it is to forget them when you’re in the moment:

    1) Always start by introducing yourself. Not only is it the polite thing to do, it helps you relax, and find your voice.

    2) Smile. Most of us do not smile when we’re nervous. Try to find your smile.

    3) Remember that the agent knows you’re nervous. Now, I can’t speak for all agents, but I can say that every agent I’ve met has been very nice. They know they intimidate us. So don’t freak out if your voice starts out squeaky or your first words come out like mush. Take a deep breath, remind yourself that they understand, and keep going.

    As far as preparing your pitch, I followed these simple suggestions:

    1) Keep it short. Just because you have ten minutes doesn’t mean you should talk for ten minutes. You want to give them time to ask questions. My pitch timed out around three minutes—and even though there was a big part of me that was panicking, wondering what would happen if they didn’t ask me any questions, let me put your mind at ease. They ALL asked questions.

    2) Start with your title and main character. As fantastic as your plot may be, it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens to your character. That’s what makes people care about your story. Sell them on your character.

    3) Follow with two or three concise, captivating sentences and end on a cliffhanger. This is where you’re trying to catch their interest. Make it snappy. Push yourself to write some awesome sentences. And stop at a point that makes them have to know more.

    Above all else, remember, you’re not there to get page requests (not saying they aren’t nice). You’re there to get honest feedback about your book so you can make the necessary adjustments before you query. Give the agents a chance to talk. I guarantee you’ll learn something. You may even meet your agent there. I did.

    Shannon is represented by Laura Rennert of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She runs a popular blog you so should be following, or find her on twitter. She is amazing, and you'll wanna keep up with what she has going on.

    Thanks for dropping by, Shannon!

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    Building Your Book/Author Website

    Why is a website so crucial?  Well, partly because the first thing many of us do when we hear about a product that interests us is go online to find out more. A website dedicated to the author/book in question serves several purposes:

    1. It legitimizes the author and the book.

    In the social sciences (like psychology), something that has been legitimized has clout and power behind it. It feels somehow more real, more authoritative, than something that has not. Think about the mega-authors, the bestselling authors, the ones who are household names -- they all have websites. It's part of the product that is [insert mega-name author here]. 

    In a digital world, especially one in which it's so easy to create a webpage, there's really no excuse for not having a site.

    2. It gives you a way to brand yourself.

    I've talked about branding before, and about how I developed the Archetype Writing brand:
    Before we get into [website] content, let’s talk a little bit about design. You need to pick a theme or symbol to represent you. Something that’s unique to your site and your work. In advertising, we call that branding.
    I have this really cool pen that my mom got me as a stocking stuffer one year. The barrel is clear, and there’s a little light in there that changes colors. I turned it on, put it on a white sheet of paper and started snapping photographs as it changed colors. That silly little gift, with the light orange, has become my symbol for Archetype Writing. I have it on my site; I have it on my blog. (I also have it on notepaper and my business cards. I'm getting oodles of mileage out of that pen.)

    I also used specific colors to go with the Archetype brand --  most notably orange, a color I chose because it is associated with adjectives like energizing, vital, friendly, and fun.  I paired it with black to ground it, since black brings to mind adjectives like bold, strong, powerful, and sober.  In other words -- I was going for a site that is fun to visit, but also includes authoritative information.  (If you're particularly interested in the psychology of color in branding and advertising to help you build your site, I highly, highly recommend the Pantone Guide to Communicating with Color by Leatrice Eiseman.)

    Over on my new Writer's Guide to Psychology website, the brand is strongly influenced by my book cover. I decided to carry over the image of the brain, along with the typewriter font and the warm, robust colors, particularly dark red.  If someone has seen the book, I want them to know they've reached the right website the second they see it, and vice versa.

    3. It provides interested parties with additional information -- information that you control.

    Sites like Amazon.com provide fantastic information on books.  They give us all the details on the publisher, let us browse reviews, and even let us order a copy for ourselves.  But while newer features like Author Central give writers ways to customize their pages and bios, they still can't control a lot of the information published there.

    On your website, you can include as much information as you like -- and make sure it's accurate.  You can provide excerpts, tips, and tidbits to really get potential readers intrigued.

    So how do you go about creating your own website?  


    The first thing you need to do is sit down with a pencil and a piece of paper and storyboard a bit.  What is your primary graphical symbol going to be? What do you want your menus to say?  Will you have submenus?  How will you lay them out?

    To the right you'll see what a basic storyboard looks like for me...and how that might translate into a completed site.  My sites rarely look just like my storyboards, but they're often quite similar.

    Once I've come up with a basic storyboard, I do a lot of thinking in Photoshop and Dreamweaver.  I try combining things in different ways to see how they look.  I went through nearly 15 iterations of the Writer's Guide to Psychology website before I was happy with the design.  To the right and below are just three of them (the bottom one being what I settled on).

    In other words, don't worry if it takes you a while to get it right.  Trial and error is often the best way to figure out what's going to work for you and your book.

    Actually Building the Site

    I'm one of the lucky ones -- I've been creating webpages since 1995, and I love doing it. It's fun for me to design a site; create the graphics, text, and other media; and tweak until I'm happy.

    You may not feel that way, or you may not yet know how to build a website on your own.  If either of these things is the case, you have several options.

    1. Hire someone to build the site for you.
    • Pros: You don't have to get your hands dirty.  You pay someone and the work is done.
    • Cons: You're trusting your site to someone else, and you don't get the same opportunity to play around until the site feels just right.  Having someone else build a site for you an also be expensive, especially if you rely on them to do all your updates.
    2. Use a website that provides templates.
    • Pros: You can build a site on your own without having to understand how the coding works.
    • Cons: These template sites vary widely in quality, ease of use, and functionality. Many (if not most) of them scream amateur. Some require you to have some basic knowledge of how the web works.  Some are costly.  You are limited by the template you choose, especially if you're plunking down hard-earned cash to use a particular one. And there's no guarantee someone else won't be using exactly the same template.
    3. Use a blogging website like WordPress or Blogger to create your site.
    • Pros: Easy to use and update, lots of templates to choose from.  In many cases you can tailor a blog to look more like a website than a blog.  WordPress and Blogger both offer a way to make different pages so everything isn't running through the blog engine.
    • Cons: Custom templates can be buggy, and they often require some HTML and/or CSS knowledge to really tweak them.  Instructions on how to make changes vary from very good to extremely poor. 
    4. Tackle a website-building program like Microsoft Expression Web or Adobe Dreamweaver (or find a friend who knows them and can help you).
    • Pros: You have complete control over your site and the possibilities are limitless.
    • Cons: Advanced knowledge and patience are required.  (If you're going to try to learn Dreamweaver, I highly recommend Dreamweaver CS4 Missing Manual and CSS: The Missing Manual if you want to really understand CSS.)  MS Expression web is considerably cheaper (unless you're a student or teacher) and has very similar functionality to Dreamweaver. There are also plenty of books to help you learn MS Expression Web, though I haven't read any of them, so I can't make any particular recommendations. (Once you learn one of the programs, you can move back and forth pretty easily between them.)
    For the novice, I suggest using a blogging platform like Blogger or WordPress.  Overall, they're easy to use, there's lots of help available, and they're fairly easy to customize.

    A little tip as you build, especially if you're using someone else's templates.  Remember, just because you can do something doesn't always mean you should do something.  In other words, simple is often better.

    Your Domain Name

    If you're not using Blogger or WordPress (or sometimes even if you are), you'll want a website address (aka a domain name) that refers to you or your product.  Fortunately, domain names are inexpensive, often around $10 a year.  GoDaddy.com is an easy place to buy a domain name, though I prefer SSL Catacomb Networking, as they're often cheaper and I like the control they give me over my domain names.

    Dot-com (.com) names are the most popular because everyone automatically tacks ".com" onto a website address, but you can use all kinds of domain extensions (.net, .info, etc.) if .com is already taken.  Though website domain sellers often encourage you to buy every extension under the sun, that's really not necessary.

    Once you have your domain name and host service, you're ready to upload your finished site. (I use Website Source because you can do pretty much everything with it...including shell in if you want to. Don't worry if you don't know what shelling in is...it's the ability to do high-level customization of your site on the server side.)  Programs like Dreamweaver and Expression Web will help you upload straight from the program.

    So...what have I missed? What else does a website do to help a book? And as a writer, do you have your own author or book website? If you have a website, what approach are you using?  Do you like it?  Would you do anything differently if you were starting over?

    Friday, June 18, 2010

    Publishing Pulse 6/18/10

    PhotobucketAh, another week has gone by. So many exciting things going on! I just want to give a big shout out to literary agent Kathleen Ortiz for working through the contest entries. She is AWESOME.

    She also has a great post about why agents care about submission guidelines, so read that too.

    New Agents:
    Ann Bohner of Pen and Ink Literary: reps romance, women's fiction and YA.

    Adam Korn of DiFiore and Company: reps literary fiction and a list of non-fiction. Click here to see his profile.

    Adam Schear of DiFiore and Company: reps commercial and literary fiction and a list of non-fiction.

    Christine Mervart of Anderson Literary Management: reps short story collections, literary fiction and a short list of non-fiction. 

    From Guide to Literary Agents, a new agent alert for Amanda Luedeke of MacGregor Literary. Read the details here.

    Be sure to check out the updated agent profiles to stay on top of who's accepting queries and who isn't. Scroll down a little to see the updated agents. 19 have updated their profiles just this month, including Michael Bourret and Colleen Lindsay. And always make sure to check agency blogs and websites for the most up-to-date information.

    Awesome Reading:
    6 Keys to Revising Your Novel by guest poster Kristina McBride on the Guide to Literary Agents blog.

    An interview with literary agent Jennifer Laughran (through YAHighway).

    Awesome post about doing your homework before querying agents by Debra Schubert.
    Looking for a Critique Group? Read some advice here from guest poster Susan Uhlig.

    Author/agent Mandy Hubbard has some great advice for your opening pages.

    Literary agent Jill Corcoran gives a most excellent formula for writing a query letter.

    An author branding Manifesto from author Maureen Johnson. Funny and insightful.

    Blog to Watch: Adventures in Children’s Publishing. They had a great first line contest a week or two ago, so add them to your follow list so you won’t miss out on other adventures!

    Have a great weekend!


    Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    Manuscript Length

    How long should a novel manuscript be?

    I belong to quite a few writers' groups, both local and online, and in my QT Blog posts, I try to address recurring topics discussed in these groups that apply to aspiring writers. The question of word count comes up frequently.

    I'm not an expert on all genres, so I'm going to link to and quote from folks who know what they're talking about. What I do know is that loads of aspiring writers, especially those new to the business have monster-long, and I mean doorstop-huge manuscripts well in excess of 130,000 words.

    So, let's start off with the numbers. Here's literary agent Colleen Lindsay's take on manuscript length from her blog, The Swivet:

    Word counts for different kinds of novels vary, but there is are general rules of thumb for fiction that a writer can use when trying to figure out just how long is too long. For the purposes of this post, I'm only talking about YA, middle-grade and adult fiction here. And bear in mind that there are always exceptions, but good general rules of thumb would be as follows:
    middle grade fiction = Anywhere from about 25k to 40k, with the average at about 35k

    YA fiction = For mainstream YA, anywhere from about 45k to 80k; paranormal YA or YA fantasy can occasionally run as high as 125k. The second or third in a particularly bestselling series can go even higher. But it shouldn't be word count for the sake of word count; the word count must actually be what works best for the story.

    urban fantasy / paranormal romance = Usually around the 100k mark; some bestselling urban fantasy writers are able to turn in even higher word counts, but as a debut author, stick to the appropriate range.

    mysteries and crime fiction = Cozies tend to be shorter than the average, somewhere around the 60k to 70k mark; most other books that fall into this category fall right around the 90k to 100k mark.

    mainstream/commercial fiction/thrillers = Depending upon the kind of fiction, this can vary: chick lit runs anywhere from 80k word to 100k words; literary fiction can run as high as 120k but lately there's been a trend toward more spare and elegant literary novels as short as 65k; thrillers also run in somewhere around the 100k to 120k mark; historical fiction can run as high as 160k words or more (and again, these are just rough guides - there are always exceptions). Anything under 50k is usually considered a novella, which isn't something agents or editors ever want to see unless the editor has commissioned a short story collection. (Agent Kristin Nelson has a good post about writers querying about manuscripts that are too short.)

    science fiction & fantasy = Here's where most writers seem to have problems: most editors I've spoken to recently at major SF/F houses want books that fall into the higher end of the adult fiction you see above; a few of them told me that 100k words is the ideal manuscript size for good space opera or fantasy. For a truly spectacular epic fantasy, editors will consider manuscripts over 120k but it would have to be something extraordinary. I know at least one editor I know likes his fantasy big and fat and around 180k. But he doesn't buy a lot at that size; it has to be astounding. (Read: Doesn't need much editing.) And regardless of the size, an editor will expect the author to to be able to pare it down even further before publication.

    I recommend reading all of Ms. Lindsay's article from which I quoted above because it gives some examples of when and how longer word counts make it through.

    Jessica Faust from Bookends, LLC also blogged about this topic in an article appropriately called Book Length.

    Here's agent Nathan Bransford's opinion on Novel Word Count.

    How about an editor's take on it. Moonrat blogged about the ideal length of a submission.

    My point is 130,000+ word debut novels are rare. There's a reason they're not the norm. Publishing is a business. As writers, it's our job to know as much about the business as possible. There is a ton of online information on this subject from industry professionals.

    If you have thoughts on this topic or other links to good articles about manuscript length, please share them in the comments.

    Have a great week!


    Monday, June 14, 2010

    How to Grab an Agent's Attention in a Query

    First, how important is a query letter?

    The query letter is the first thing I look at, so it should accurately reflect your project.  I think some authors think query letters are just a formality, but so much of being an author is also being able to market your work - and if you can’t take that first step to write a query, you’re in trouble.
     Literary Agent Katie Grimm of Don Congdon and Associates,
    from an interview on WordHustler.

    Now, tips from twenty agents to make your query shine:

    Only about once a year does something immediately grab me from a query. If that happens, I immediately get in touch with the author to ask for the manuscript as soon as possible. Those very rare moments happen when the story sounds fresh and interesting, the tone of the letter expresses the tone of the book, and in those three or four very simple paragraphs, there is a preponderance of evidence that the author is a great writer.

    Jim McCarthy of Dystel and Goderich Literary Management, on The League of Reluctant Adults blog.

    A great hook. Even if the rest of the query isn’t as stellar as it should be, if you have a great hook, I’m requesting pages. I totally get that some people just have issues with queries and that’s ok with me. But you have to grab me somehow. 
    Kathleen Ortiz of Lowenstein Associates, on YA Highway.

    I see queries all the time that capture my interest. The one thing they have in common is compelling voice. They usually have a fresh approach to a plot, or an interesting concept. If it’s non-fiction, it’s generally something that makes me think, “Oh I want to know more about that.”

    Janet Reid of FinePrint Literary Management, on the WOW Women on Writing Website.

    In short, the perfect query isn’t the most important part; doing your homework on agents (finding which are really a perfect fit), and having good writing and a solid story are. 
    Natalie Fischer of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency, on the Teens Writing For Teens blog.

    I have no patience for query letters that compare the work to a bestseller or literary lion. I’ve seen letters where the author compares their work in a way that makes me sure this person has completely unrealistic expectations. What I do find helpful is for the author to tell me whom they envision being their audience (e.g., readers of so-and-so may enjoy my work). There is a big difference between over-hyping and helping to position the readership.

    Wendy Sherman of Wendy Sherman Associates, on WOW, the Women On Writing website.

    I am always thankful when someone values and respects my time by gathering information prior to contacting me. I am also a stickler for grammar, so typically, a poorly written query, or one that contains grammatical and/or typographical errors directs my attention elsewhere. 
    Adriana Dominguez of Full Circle Literary, on The Examiner.

    No need to apologize for yourself—"I'm so sorry to take up your time." Please don't threaten or beg me to "make your dream come true" or try to pump up the project in ways that mean nothing—telling me how your mom or friends loved it, or that you have 150 Facebook friends, all of whom you're sure would buy a copy. Don't get in your own way! Just tell me about the book, and we'll go from there.

    Holly Root of the Waxman Agency, on the Guide to Literary Agents blog.

    I’d like to see the author summarize their book in a paragraph or less, and be able to point out authors whose work is like theirs. And of course, what makes me hit “delete” are the usual mistakes—addressing the letter “Sir/Madam,” calling me someone else’s name, misspelling my name, lots of typos, a weak command of the English language, etc. etc. 
    Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown, Ltd., on Gretchen McNeil's blog Seanchai.

    I don’t want self-aggrandizing statements. (This book is the next bestseller!). All I need is a brief paragraph outlining the plot and characters, and five pages so I can see if you can write. Please only include biographical information that is relevant to the content and sale of the book. And take into account what I’m looking for. It’s just a waste of time to send me material that I do not take on.

    Beth Fleisher of The Barry Goldblatt Literary Agency, on the QTblog.

    Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of query letters that don’t tell me anything about the plot. I can’t figure it out. I’m being pitched a story, but the writer won’t tell me what the story is–though he assures me it’ll be a great read!  Baffling. 
    Tina Wexler of International Creative Management, on the Teens Writing for Teens blog.

    Another pet peeve is what I like to call the Chinese menu query letter. I get query letters that pitch me five projects in three fiction genres, a screenplay and a memoir. Needless to say, I respond with a polite no thank you. Also, I automatically reject any query that has my name improperly spelled.

    Barbara Collins Rosenberg of The Rosenberg group, on author Dianna Love's website.

    Do take the time to hone and then highlight your one or two sentence pitch or hook. Do take only one paragraph to summarize the rest of your work-following the grab-your-attention style found on the back cover of books. 
    Kristin Nelson of the Nelson Literary Agency, on the WOW Women on Writing website.

    The worst thing you can say is “I am unpublished and this manuscript isn’t very good.” If you don’t think it is good or publishable, then don’t waste anyone’s time mentioning it or sending it along. The writer becomes a professional writer the moment they act professionally and being apologetic isn’t being professional. Have confidence and poise.

    Stephen Fraser of the Jennifer DiChiara Literary Agency, on The First Novels Club blog.

    A crisp and to-the-point letter that lets me know you know your way around words and can tell a good tale. 
    Jennifer Flannery of Flannery Literary, on Gumbo Writers.

    What if, instead of on impulse sending a pushy email requesting a status update, you wrote to an agent: “I just wanted to let you know that you should feel free to take your time considering my manuscript. I know how busy you are, and I’m just happy you’ve requested the full and are considering – naturally, I want you to have the time to make the right decision here”? What if you made it your goal to be the most professional and pleasant writer to ever approach the agent you’re querying – can you imagine what sort of impact that might have on the results you get?

    Stephen Barbara of Foundry Literary + Media, on the blog of Erica Ridley. 

    Be honest and open and show some personality. Agents aren’t looking for worker bees, we want to see originality. Talent is primary, but compatibility goes a long way. Make it clear to agents from the start that you are going to be cooperative and will work with an agent for the betterment of your career. 
    Rebecca Sherman of Writer's House, on The Career Cookbook.

    From an agent’s stand point, the most important part of your query is the story pitch. I need to love the concept above all else. If you have writing credentials or a compelling reason for querying me specifically, great, but if I don’t love the pitch than the rest doesn’t matter.

    Mandy Hubbard of D4EO Literary Agency, on Day by Day Writer.

    It sparks my interest in the story, tells me more than the title and word count. It's great when a writer can clearly describe the appeal or "hook" of his or her own work and say why I'd be the best representative for it. Sell yourself to me. Professional credentials help, but aren't necessary. You might mention other authors whose work you like or who inspire you. 
    Steven Malk of Writer's House, on Hope Vestergaard's blog.

    Please don’t be overly friendly or chummy. We’re not looking to be friends (though I certainly like being friends once I’ve signed you on as a client), but to form a business relationship. Keep it cordial and professional.

    Caren Johnson Estesen of the Caren Johnson Literary Agency, on Break Into Fiction.

    The real key to a successful query letter is to get the point across succinctly. Write a good letter and check it for spelling and grammar. We're nerds! We will judge you for your funky punctuation. And try to capture the spirit of what's exciting about your book. Convey your own passion for the material without egotism. Or, best of all, make me laugh. 
    Jim McCarthy of Dystel and Goderich Literary Management, on The League of Reluctant Adults blog.

    Now, put these tips to use - and let me know the results. 
    Go forth, conquer, and dare to be remarkable!

    Suzette Saxton writes books for tots, teens, and in-betweens. She is represented by Suzie Townsend of FinePrint Literary.

    Friday, June 11, 2010

    Publishing Pulse 6-11-10

    Around the Publishing Blogosphere:

    Agent Rachelle Gardner offers advice on evaluating a publisher's legitimacy and some hints on refining your one-line pitch.

    Jessica Faust at BookEnds gives some insight to foreign publishing rights and suggests devising a style sheet for your novel.

    The Rejector helps delineate between promotional web content and self-publishing.

    Eric at Pimp my Novel discusses the finer points of choosing a title.

    Publishing News:

    The New York Times discussed the various e-reader options.

    Author Magazine gives us the top ten publishing myths.

    Contests and Opportunities:

    Contest on The Bookshelf Muse

    Agent Sara Megibow posted a request for romance novel queries on client Natalie Bahm's blog.

    Have a great weekend, everyone!

    H. L. Dyer, M.D. writes women's fiction and works as the Clinical and Academic Director for the Hospitalist Program at a pediatric teaching hospital near Chicago. In addition to all things literary, she enjoys experimental cooking and composing impromptu parodies to annoy close friends and family. Click to visit her personal blog, Trying to Do the Write Thing.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    Providing Better Critiques: Being Detailed in Your Feedback

    We talked in earlier posts about how to handle critiques without getting defensive and how to provide critiques without giving the writer reason to get defensive.  This time, we’re going to look at how details make your feedback much more useful to the writer.

    I need to start off by saying that everyone critiques in a slightly different way, and that everyone likes to get slightly different types of critiques. In other words, the types of critiques we give and like to get are affected by our personalities. In the comments of the Handling Critiques Without Getting Defensive post, one reader remarked that he wants his critiques to answer very specific questions and gets frustrated when they don’t.

    I’d actually encourage you to be open to any and all of the things your crit buddies offer you. For example: you may not care a great deal about grammar, only about clarity – but how clear can you be when your grammar is poor? In other words, don’t just ask questions of your critiquers – listen for the answers. They may come in more forms than you expect.

    Having noted that what each person wants is influenced by their personality, let’s talk about some of the things that can help make a good crit great.

    Don’t just focus on what’s wrong…also share what’s right

    If someone is only ever told what he’s doing wrong, eventually he may develop something psychologists call learned helplessness. People who have learned that they can’t do anything right give up, feeling helpless to make things better. So be sure to provide some positive encouragement along with your concerns.

    Be specific

    The more general the remark, the less helpful it is. Think about reading a book review. “This was a great story” or “Nope, didn’t like it” doesn’t tell you much about whether you might enjoy the book, does it? No, but the specifics about characters, plot, pacing, and theme the reviewer adds do. So if you’re providing a general summary of a chapter or story, be sure to add why the piece works or doesn’t work as a whole.

    Zooming in a little closer, be specific as you’re making comments within the manuscript, too. If you like something, why do you like it? Does it elucidate character? How? Are you having a strong emotional reaction? What is it and why?

    Yes, this level of critique takes work on your part, but it will be a much better use of your time – and a much bigger help to the writer – than something more general.

    Provide suggestions

    If something isn’t working, try going a step farther than just explaining why it doesn’t work. Float an idea or two about what might work instead. Even if you’re way off base and the writer decides that idea won’t work for her story, you’ve given her an example of what might take the story in a direction that works better.

    It’s kind of like giving a friend a tip on what looks good style wise: “That dress doesn’t flatter your shape” is helpful, but it can be even more helpful to add something like “Something with a belt would accentuate your waist.” Ah, now the other person knows not only what doesn’t work, she has an idea of what direction to look for something that will.

    Try a stream of consciousness

    One of the best reviews I ever got was from a friend whose critique was basically a stream of consciousness as she read. Not only did it give me an excellent understanding of just how the story worked or didn’t work as she read, but it was entertaining because parts of it were much less formal than the average critique. (I included an excerpt below – my favorite comment in the whole manuscript is the ruh-roh. She didn’t write as much on every page, but you can see how I could definitely follow her thoughts. Click the image to see a larger version.)

    So how about you?  How do you (or your crit buddies) add helpful detail to critiques?

    Monday, June 7, 2010

    Giving Yourself Permission

    I used to be a freak. (Okay, "used to" might be a stretch. *grin*) I sort of have a personality like a pit bull. When I grab onto something (publishing a book), I grab onto it. And nothing short of well, I don't even know what, will make me let go.

    Sometimes this is a good personality trait, one I like about myself. Sometimes it's so not. I've read a lot of blogs over the past few years. One thing I see a lot is the advice to write every day.

    Well, I thought this was good advice, and it was something I had time to do, so I set the goal. The words flowed for a while. And then...they didn't. And sometimes life was such that I couldn't write every single day. And, being me, I freaked a little. And by "freaked" I mean I was beating myself up for not being able to do what all the blogs said to do.

    And Carolyn came to the rescue and said something like, "Give yourself permission NOT to write." Which sounded weird to me. I mean, we're writers, right?

    But I did it. I've been doing it for over a year and a half. I'm so much happier. I don't have to write every single day to be successful. I can go to soccer games without guilt now. I can enjoy a lazy afternoon at the pool. My story will still be there tomorrow.

    Now, of course I still have to buckle down and get off Twitter in order to get some writing done. But I've managed to find that happy medium between Obsessive and Normal. Well, as normal as writers can be, right? Right.

    So today, I challenge you to give yourself permission. For whatever you need to. Eat a twinkie. Watch a movie with a friend. DON'T write if it's stressing you out. Stop beating yourself up, and simply give yourself permission to just be today. You can always work on whatever whatever tomorrow. Because success is achievable in small steps.

    So, what are you going to give yourself permission to do?


    Friday, June 4, 2010

    Publishing Pulse 6/4/10

    Congrats to QT Blog Author Elana Johnson!

    We are over the moon for our very own Elana, who sold her debut novel, CONTROL ISSUES!
    From Publisher's Marketplace: Elana Johnson's CONTROL ISSUES, set in a brainwashed society where those gifted with mind control best join the powers that be, but one rebel girl tries to beat them at their own game, to Anica Rissi at Simon Pulse, by Michelle Andelman at Lynn Franklin Associates (NA).
    Congratulations, Elana!

    The New QueryTracker Success Stories

    Congratulations to our members who signed with agents this week. All the QT success stories can be checked out here.

    New Agents Added to the QueryTracker Database

    Several new agents and publishers have been added to or updated on the QT Database recently. Check out the box labeled "New and Updated Listings" on the front page of the main QueryTracker.Net site and view their profiles for website links and genres they represent.

    Tips, News & Other Interesting Info from Around the 'Net

    Casey McCormick had a nice Q & A with Steven Malk of Writers House on her blog, Literary Rambles.

    An intern over at Bookends LLC discussed how she reads proposals.

    Editorial Ass wrote an interesting article on "How to Throw an Awesome Book Launch."

    If you write children's books up to and including YA, you should bookmark Editorial Anonymous' Blog. It's funny and brutally honest.

    Author Susan DiMickele guest blogged on Rachelle Gardner's blog about how there's "No Good Time to Write."

    Wishing everyone a fabulous weekend.


    Wednesday, June 2, 2010

    When You're Weary

    Every writer has them, those difficult times when we just can't send out another query, just can't take another rejection. I've heard this referred to as "on the ledge," meaning one step away from jumping off the writing cliff forever. This post is to offer a place of solace - and a list of places to go when seeking surcease from the writing demons that plague us all.

    1. The first place I go is family. Specifically, my sister Bethany Wiggins. She has pulled me through the darkest of times. The fact that she is a writer definitely helps, but it's not a necessity. (I do turn to my non-writer family members as well.)
    2. Next, I seek out my dearest writing friends. I met my besties on the QueryTracker Forum - the gals who co-author this blog with me, and Patrick, owner of all things QT. We've all been fast friends for nearly three years now, and not a day goes by that I'm not thankful for their presences in my life.
    3. Blogs. (You didn't think I was going to say that, did you?) Every single time I read blogs, I am moved, touched, and my spirits are lifted. The best place to start? The blogs of people who follow or comment on your blog. They are reading your posts because they feel a connection to you - and it's a connection that goes both ways.
    4. Hitting the classics is my next stop on the road. More specifically, reading the life stories of classical authors. Man, they struggled...and they didn't even have word processors, poor things. But if they made it, so can we.
    5. Writing quotes. If anything can make me crack a smile through the gloom, it is these.
    6. And, to take a little pressure off, try to see creativity in a whole new way. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, has a great take on it:

    Who do you turn to when you're weary? Let me know in the comments and I will include your thoughts with this post, plus link to your blog.


    • Mostly I whine on my blog, and my blogging buddies are always supportive and encouraging. Mary McDonald
    • I've found chocolate, lots and lots of chocolate (sometimes with ice cream) helps tremendously when I'm on the ledge. (like right now) Doesn't do any good for my thighs, but it really does help the rejections. Anne Gallagher
    • I actually get offline. I watch movies (Pirates of the Carribean), read a book or simply do nothing. It helps me focus a little. Elana Johnson
    • Actually I was there last week. I'd had it and decided it was all a waste of my time if I wasn't any good. I whined and cried to my husband, my blogging buddies and God. Well, I'm back at it determined to find new ways to be better at it:) Terri Tiffany
    • Finding comfort in those who understand the twists and turns of being a writer is where it is for me. Other writers, blogging buddies, and inspiring authors or quotes. When I need that break, I turn to family and friends. Of course, in the end chocolate usually helps. S.A. Larsen
    • I turn to books, good books. Or really good movies. When I'm weary I need to remind myself why I love writing and that this feeling is just a passing phase. Laura Pauling
    • I have a friend who has worked for me in a number of capacities over the years (she was my entertainment editor, features copy editor, niche editor, etc.). She is currently not working outside the home, but she is a fabulous writer and writes YA. Whenever I'm feeling down or SELF DOUBT keeps poking me, I can call Beth and she understands. Also, I follow tons of bloggers who are so inspirational and give me hope and encouragement when I seem to need it most. Also, I have fellow editors at the paper who support and encourage me. And I run. Lots of that, to shake it off. Buffy Andrews
    • Yesterday I was having a "woo is me, I totally suck at everything" sort of day. For me, I feel better when I'm productive. Like when I blog or write anything. It's strange but I feel like there's not a lot of time left in my life, after all I'm only going to live for another 80 years, I've got to get cracking. Doing SOMETHING always makes me feel better. Then I complain to my writer friends and they're pretty awesome at cheering me up. Erinn
    • How did you know I was about to "jump off the cliff" and was stopped by this post? That's what I love about the blogging community. It's a support group, even though that is not part of any mission statement. So I'm on to more querying and writing, thanks to you. Judith Mercado
    • oh - i've been there so many times. so close to the edge of that ledge. but after a good cry, a stop at my favorite ice cream shop and the never-ending support of my family, i get back on track and press onward. as walt disney said, "keep moving forward." Amie Borst
    • I usually go to my writing partner, Pamela Hammonds. Neither of us is allowed to be on the ledge at the same time. I also remember how far I've come and the people who've helped me along the way. Joan Mora
    • Weary is such a good way of describing it. I've been there more than once. When I find myself getting weary with the whole process, I tend to go back to my roots, which is short stories, a place where I feel comfortable and competent. I've found another great cure for weariness is to participate in a novel-in-a-month challenge (besides the official NaNoWriMo, there are many unofficial writing month challenges throughout the year). Lisa K.
    • I hug my husband and my kids. I chat with my writer friends, who are great at kicking me off the ledge (and I don't mean in the deadly direction). Chocolate and exercise are also good. So is hitting the bookstore. :D Stina Lindenblatt
    • I do all of the above. I wanted to comment on Elizabeth Gilbert's talk via Youtube. She has given creativity and the process of creating a wonderful spin. Sometimes you really need a new perspective and whether or not I buy into her fairy theory is unimportant. What counts is that I take a step back and get a larger pciture or writing, creating, my role, God's role, who I am in the process and who I am not. Kathy 
    • I loved the youtube link too. My family is going to wonder what the deal is when they see me talking to empty corners of the room now, but you all know I'm sane...mostly. I'll be back later. I need to go have a chat with my creative fairy now. Wendy Swore
    • I do lots of different things, which is to say I don't have a plan for dealing with the weary. Usually I step away and do other things and promise myself that when I get back to my writing I will try for at least one more line. Other times I read. Books, blogs, anything to get back into a writing mind. Corinne O'Flynn
    • When I'm weary of revising, I unplug and hang out with family and friends. It helps refresh me so I can start revising...again! Kristi Helvig
    • That speech was amazing. I haven't read Eat, Pray, Love. Perhaps I will wait until her next book is published and read that first - do her a little favour :) Jessica Bell
    • After fussing and worrying I realized that I need to take a step back, reassess my goals for myself, call my BFF who is also a writer, and do something completely not wiring related. Noble M. Standing
    • During my first draft, I watched A&E's Pride & Prejudice or Emma Thompson's Sense & Sensibility. Somehow Jane Austen helped. Taking a walk usually helps. Anymore, I don't seem to have time for any of that. Consequentially, this morning's tour on the cliff edge continues. I need a vacation from writing, but this year's vacation - is to a conference. Victoria Dixon
    • I try to get away from the computer. Go for a walk, go play soccer, anything active. It refreshes my brain and makes me realize I would miss it. Patti Nielson
    • I also turn to family and friends, but I also turn to God in prayer. I go back and re-read past praise of my writing and work hard at believing it. And I try not to be too hard on myself. Angie Lofthouse
    • I have to get outside. The fresh air and being surrounded by nature clears my mind. Usually, I end up running or hiking. Doing something physical reminds me that I'm alive and that I can "feel" things. After a nice break I can come back and my writing is always better. Charity Bradford
    • Every-so-often, when I've decided I'll never be a writer and I should instead pursue a past-time like cleaning the house, I reach for a book. There is nothing that inspires me to write like the writing of others. Great books have pulled me off the ledge more times than I care to say. Amy Allgeyer Cook
    • I have a very supportive partner and a comfortable garden chair where I can sit and watch the birds. Just getting away from the computer helps. ;-) Kathryn Jankowski
    • I think I've tried most of the above. Sometimes I go back and reread the postive feedback I've gotten from my writing. It reminds me that at least some people think I've got talent! :) Jana Hutcheson
    • I cry. Just let.it.go. And then, I pick myself up, dry my tears, and start again. Candace Ganger
    • I break open a body of QUERY Riesling. Yup, I swear they really do make such a thing. Then I read a great book and it gives me inspiration to dust myself off and try again. Karen Amanda Hooper
    • You know, I tend to either crochet, or play the sims. The sims is like writing without writing, and when I crochet, if I'm bummed while I do it, the blanket that comes out of me becomes magic and helps people fall asleep who don't like to sleep. (Strange but true.) Becca
    • someone recently gave me the advice to sleep it off. And I realize, it works! Usually when I'm depressed and in a rut, it's because I'm burned out. But if I make myself go to bed at the same time as my kids (which is hard because my only quiet time and writing time is after they are asleep), I'm so much happier the next day! A.L. Sonnichsen
    • I walk, long and hard. I look at everything...they sky, the flowers, the ocean, the doorways to the houses I pass. I breath deep and clean out the gloom and usually afterwards I have a sense of accomplishment and can get back to work again. Liza Carens Solarno
    • I turn to beer. Yes, beer. The darker the better, and if it's a Black & Tan, then let's sit on the dark side of the moon together and relax. I take plenty of breaks from writing to be with my family -- I don't write while they're awake -- and I exercise regularly, and I try to maintain an overall balance between family and work and writing. But when I need a BIG break, I break from everyone and everything. It is my me-time, and it's the only way I can quiet the voices. I write some of my best stuff after those breaks. Eric W. Trant
    • I vented to my husband and took a day to do whatever I wanted. Mainly I read and ate red velvet cake all day yesterday. And then went the gym for a mega workout today! Stephanie Thornton
    • The online writing community is filled with the most supportive, funny, awesome, cool people ever. And Elizabeth Gilbert's speech is one of my go-tos for just such a moment. That bit when she says she only promised the universe that she would write - not that she'd write WELL--man. Words of wisdom that help me keep plugging away, even when it's not coming. Zoe C. Courtman
    • I guess I need to second the blog thing--it seems to be working right now! Aimee
    • I am having one of those "want to jump of the writing ledge" days, too. I called a writing buddy of mine who encouraged me to keep going, and now reading your blog was the inspiring icing on the cake. Kim Rogers
    • There's this wonderful book, The Courage to Write by Ralph Keys. Years ago when I just started out and writing seemed like lots of fun, I used to sneer at it. Now it's a lifesaver! I recommend it to everyone who considers giving up writing: it saved me. Oh, and going off line does one a lot of good :-)))) Irene W. Galatio-Nova
    • When I'm weary and see no end in sight for my wip, my queries, etc, I tend to drink. My alcohol of choice is usually based on what is available in the liquor cabinet. And then I engage in stream of consciousness writing that is usually really funny or embarrassing the next day -- but is more real than what I'm writing when I force myself. That honest writing often serves as an inspiration for the resultant non-alcohol induced quality stuff that follows. My heroines frequently have a goblet of mead or a tankard of cider. When I'm writing those scenes, I like to have a drink with them -- but that is not a pity-party drunk-fest. Right now I'm drinking Crystal Light Lemonade. Erin Kane Spock
    • When I get down, I have a tendency to reach out to other people who might also be feeling down. I remind myself that rejection is not the end of the world. My family will still be here for me, my friends will still be here for me, and my life--as it is--won't be any different than it was yesterday. Then I point that out to other people who I know are also going through similar things. It really, really helps to put things in perspective. Also, I give myself permission to take a day off, or even a weekend. I get a pedicure, go shopping, hang out with my family or my friends and forget about my writing life for a while. After a break, my creative self is rested and much easier to face with renewed perspective. Nichole Giles
    • Mostly my family, and Tank, my dog. He's a good listener. :) Once in awhile I post something on the blog. Other writers are always so fantastic about lifting your spirits. Blee Bonn
    • I get into a funk at times (usually when it rains rejections) and I want to throw it all away.
      My critique partners are worth their weight in gold. Actually, sod gold, they are worth their weight in diamonds.
      They let me rant and let loose with primal screams, some get on Skype with me, and it all helps. There's my other half, who, when I say "I'm going to quit this writing thing, it sucks!" gets those big scared eyes. "But... you'll go insane if you don't write. So, you can't chuck it in." Then he tries to look innocent and goes "But if you're in a funk... You could start a relationship with the vacuum cleaner. You know, that thing making lots of noise, while it sucks up dust?" (He's such a charmer... *cough*) But really, I read. A lot. There is nothing like reading a good book to remind you why you can't let this get you down. :) Silke
    • The epic brevity of poetry always helps me when I am in a funk. 
      That and my family and friends. I think it is good to get out of our own heads at times, and live in the real world. We are more than just what we write. Others need and love us. That's always a breath of fresh air to me. Caleb Mannan
    • I pray. I read a good book. I read inspirational quotes and I tell myself that I can't quit. I also take breaks- maybe that's why I'm still revising? Kelly Lyman
    • No matter how many hurdles I've overcome, years and years of work, publishing successes, every day is like new in keeping myself motivated and off the ledge of self-doubt and insecurity. I need daily self pep talks and I'm blessed to have a very supportive family. Shiny new projects, reading great books, GREAT writer friends--those things help the most. Kimberly Griffiths Little
    • The online community is a Godsend, isn't it? When I feel down or need to revisit my priorities, reading blogs really helps. And your #4 is one of my favorites. Reading about how other writers have lived and worked makes me feel very fortunate about my life and my way of writing. I wish for the romantic life so many writers seem to have had, but I realize that my life might look romantic to someone else. That helps. Valerie Demetros
    • It's weird, without knowing this post existed, on June 4th I did a bang-up job boo-hooing with a post I titled, "Enough. Or maybe I just need a break." The comfort I felt after reading the comments above from fellow writers - people feeling the same ugh'ness as me - at the same time, well, it was powerful. It has definitely been one heck of a ride so far, filled with exhilarating highs followed by, "That's it! I've had enough! I'm jumping!" lows. Thank you, Suzette, for providing this venue and encouraging us to support each other. I am going to take it as a sign that I should remain tenacious on my quest to land my agent. And never give up. K.M. Walton
    • I know it's a cliche but I listen to music. I normally start with sad songs and then I move my way up to happier songs and then I end with songs that fit the themes of my novel in order to inspire myself to have at it once more. Shannon Farrell

    Wishing you all a day of lifted spirits and newfound friends.


    Suzette Saxton writes books for tots, teens, and in-betweens. She is represented by Suzie Townsend of FinePrint Literary.