okay, is anyone else insanely excited that Ghostbusters 3 is coming out in 2012??? GHOSTBUSTERS PEOPLE!!! and we are talking the original writers, director and cast all returning. check it out on imbd, here.
I'm a writer (not a pubbed one maybe, but I consider myself one none-the-less). I image some day having one of my books actually published, on the shelf in book stores, or being ordered on people's kindles and ipads, or being borrowed from the library, or from a friend who LOVED the book and desperately wants someone else to experience it and love it as much as s/he did. As a writer hoping to be published one day, I can not for a second imagine the pain of googling my name or book title and coming across a horrible, mean, negative review. God, that must REALLY HURT. I mean, like a knife stabbing pain in the gut that slices up into your heart and back again.
Think about how hard you have worked on your book (or books). Think about the hours, days, weeks, months and even years you have put into writing your story, revising and editing. And revising and editing. And revising and...you get the point. Then there's that blasted query letter and the synopsis to get through. Then the querying process and the editing process from there and then it's still not over. Then, finally after all that blood, sweat and tears (LOTS OF TEARS and a few too many glasses of wine :-)), you finally get published. HOORAY!!!!!! You are high from the excitement in seeing your baby, your hard work, all pay off.
And then you read a review that says, "Eh, an okay read. Don't really recommend this book. The writing is mediocre, the story drags, and the characters would be better served in the Land of Make Believe cause they just didn't seem authentic to me."
OUUUUUCCCCCHHHHHHHHH! That friggin hurts!
Ya think? This person deeply believed in their book. In their story. Whether you think it's good, bad, or just so, so, their heart was likely embedded into that project. Not only that, their agent and/or publisher obviously believed in it too. IT GOT PUBLISHED!!!
Word of mouth is a very powerful tool in this biz. Silence can be too. Talking, bragging, and swooning over the books you love and not discussing the ones you don't basically has the same affect, but without the negativity and dissing of someone's work. Don't you think? I'm not talking about having book discussion with your friends or even discussing/blogging about the kinds of things that drive you crazy or anger or frustrate you in books in general (not naming the book). I'm talking about using public forums to discuss and sway others to not want to read a book. It may not be your intention to do that, but that is essentially what it does. It's hard enough dealing with the nut jobs who want to ban books and since they're not going anywhere, let's just leave the negativity to them.
So, there you have it. My really long blah blah blah two 37 cent post.
I thought it would make sense to not just blog about the fact that I am querying, but what I'm learning about the process as I go along. Here's what I've learned so far:
Researching for the agents who are just right for my project is a lot more time consuming than I thought, but worth the hours and hours of research and work, and an essential part of the process. Unless of course, you want to just query every Tom, Dick, and Harry Agency only to receive a whole bunch of big ole' Rs. My process goes like this:
A) Go to Querytracker.com, Agentquery.com, and Guide To Literary Agents, and find the agents who represent YA (and whether or not they are accepting unsolicited queries).
B) From there, I check the agency against the bewares forum in AW to make sure the agency is legit and/or the kinds of issues other writers may have had with them.
C) Check out their website, read what they are about, what they represent, who each agent is, what area/genre each agent is interested in, what authors they currently represent, and which agent you feel will be the best match for your work.
D) From there, you need to read the website (or individual agent's) submission guidelines. Do they want a query letter only, or query plus first 5 pages, or 10 pages, or first chapter, or first 3 chapters. Do they want a synopsis? And if so, do they want a 1 page synop, 2 page synop, or 3-5 page synop?
E) Once you compile a list of choice agents, you need to tailor your query letter to their requirements/needs and possibly for some personalization purposes. Ex. We met at a confrence in *** last month... or, According to your website, you are looking for edgy, upper YA stories and I think my work will be a good match for you...(lame, but you get the point).
F) Check that agent's recent sales on places like Publisher's Market to give you an idea of what's being sold by who and in what genre.
F) Finally, you need some sort of method for keeping track of who you have sent your queries to, when you sent them, what the responses were (Rejection, partial request, full request), what date you received those responses (it's good to keep track of the time frame for each agent so that you have an idea of their idividual time frame, though it can change, to keep you from going insane in the waiting game). I have various folders on my desktop, while others have an excel program to keep track.
So, there you have it. My querying process and how I go about it. Each stage of this novel writing process has it's ups and downs and requires a LOT of work and patience and some organization. I'm learning new things everyday about this business and to not take the time to put in the same work and effort towards finding the right agents as you do in writing and revising and editing your novel, query letter and synopsis is just plain silly. IMO :-)
So, I'm in that waiting-to-hear phase of the querying game. Several letters have gone out and now all I can do is wait. It's been a week, but I feel like no news is good news. As long as I don't open my email to an inbox of Rs, I'm okay. I did receive one R, but it was expected and I was actually grateful for it because it allowed me to feel like it was game on. Once you get that first one, it's like a strange sort of initiation into the process. I was even congratulated by some of my writer buddies and it didn't upset me. It made me one of them, if that makes any sense.
Anyway, I do need to do things to distract myself so that I don't check my inbox 8,473 times a day. Of course, I have my girls which are a fantastic way to keep my mind off things and God knows they keep me super busy. I'm almost finished with my synopsis, which I will need for the batch of agents I will query that require one. I'm also beta reading for a few people which is extremely helpful for keeping my thoughts occupied. And then I have my group of writer friends who through emails and AW forums, keep me encouraged and full of distractions. As soon as I finish with the beta reads, I will begin working heavily on TwinSouls, my recently out of the trunk novel, which I'm very excited to be working on again.
For those of you who are in the waiting game, whether it be in response to query letters, agent requested edits you made, or waiting to hear that a publisher has decided to take on your novel, what do you do to keep yourself distracted?
So, after a few months of working on my query letter, going to hell and back again in the QLH, getting some great feedback/comments/crits and compliments (including from the main squirrel himself WOOT), I finally got a letter I feel good about. So, without further ado, here is the letter that is currently sitting in the email box of about 8 agents while I drink lots of merlot (LOTS of merlot), work on finishing up my synopsis (almost done!) and checking my email acct about 8,742 times per hour day.
Dear Awesome Agent,
After spending seven weeks at Alina Lodge, a strict facility for troubled teenage POPs (People Of Powers), seventeen-year old Sam Reese is ready to snap. The only thing keeping her from insanity is, Josh, a fellow telepath who manages to get in her head, huff and puff, and blow her walls down, exposing her tough girl facade.
When Josh surprises Sam by joining her in a breakout he's been stubbornly against, Sam couldn't be more stoked. Never mind that getting caught could add weeks to her stay, or that news stations have reported an increase in the disappearance of teenage POPs. Nothing will stop her from getting to Manhattan's Club Milky Way for a night of music, freedom and some ha ha-in-your-face-Alina-Lodge fun.
But when Sam accepts a drink from a stranger at the club, her night of freedom comes to an end.
Waking up handcuffed to a bench, Sam not only discovers the mystery behind the nation's missing POPs, but painful truths surrounding her father's recent death. In less than forty-eight hours, she's going to be sold to the highest overseas bidder, enslaved and exploited for her powers. Restrained, drugged, and devastated by betrayal, Sam must rely on Josh to help her escape—an escape that's going to require the breakout of a lifetime.
BREAKING OUT is an 88,000-word YA Paranormal Thriller with series potential. The manuscript is available upon your request. Thank you for your time and consideration.
And there you have it folks. The letter that will hopefully lead me to an agent and hopefully in the future to publication. The journey continues :D
Okay, so I wish I was about to say I GOT AN AGENT and that would have been the explanation for the shaky hands, but alas, it is not. The shaky hands have to do with the fact that today I begin my SEARCH for an agent.
I've had some crazy last minute issues with preparing my first five pages for submission to some of the agents who request that with the query. I have learned a few things. There is a difference between Plain Text and HTML (or Rich Text). I had no clue what the hell those were. Yes, I'm really that computer illiterate. So, I started a thread on AW in the Basic Writing Questions forum and got a plethora of responses, which only left me in a further panic. From 9:30 to11:30 last night I was trying to solve the problem of how I send my material and make sure the italics portions stay intact. They are essential to my first five pages and the novel as a whole because they indicate when a telepathic conversation is occurring. Without the italics, it might not make sense that the characters are communicating and I can't use quotes because that is for regular dialogue which also occurs in the chapter/novel. Anyway, in the end, the best advice that I received and that I'm going with is to use underscores at the beginning and end of the sentence that would normally be italicized. Apparently this is industry standard and thus the safe way to go.
About those shaky hands...is it normal? What about my upset stomach that is causing me to run to the bathroom every 15 minutes. Is it:
A)The liquor I drank last night
D) All of the above
In any event, I will send out my first batch of 5 queries between today and tomorrow. I'm totally freaking out. This is so important and what I've been working so hard towards for the past year!
For those of you who have been through the querying process, what was it like for you and how did you deal???
Just an update. My query letter is officially ready to send out. My novel, however...well, I decided to add a last minute scene. It's not a make it or break it scene for the novel as a whole, but a scene that is very befitting and would be somewhat expected of the MC. I absolutely love this scene and how it's working out. So, I will finish editing/revising it, send it to betas to have a look and then it will be pretty much done. I am still going through and fixing little sentences here and there, but at this point I know I am getting nit-picky and have to be careful not to let myself get ridiculously caught up in that kind of thing. The novel is pretty solid I feel and I'm excited to share this story with others. I'm also working on the synopsis (another form of torture), but since there are many agents who don't ask for them, I might just begin querying to those agents while I finish working on it. Therefore, that means that I might actually be querying very close to the goal I set for myself (mid-Jan). It might be one week more, depending on when I get feedback from BETAs and what comments/suggestions they make, but man am I close. Now where did I put that bottle of Kendall Jackson? Oh, wait a minute, I haven't had any since my girls were born almost 5 years ago. Aack. Time for that to change :-)
Okay, I know it's not just "my" year, but what I mean is that I feel that 2011 is going to be a good year for me and my family. Here are the main things I'm hoping to accomplish this year:
1. Getting an agent for my novel
2. Finding out I'm going to be published
3. Losing 25 lbs and becoming overall healthier
4. Turning 40 and feeling damn good about it (because I will be looking and feeling good!)
5. Moving to Puerto Rico and beginning a new and exciting adventure and having some amazing and beautiful new places as inspiration for my writing
6. Read a minimum of 50 YA books
So, obviously, I don't really have control over #'s 1 and 2, but those are my big wishes for this year. I don't know how to explain it, but I just feel like this is my year, both professionally and personally.
What do you hope to accomplish this year? And whatever it is, from my heart, I wish you all a Happy You Year!