Archive for October, 2011


More Quotes

October 30, 2011

If you wait for inspiration, you’re not a writer, but a waiter. –Anonymous


Sure, it’s simple, writing for kids… Just as simple as bringing them up. –Ursula K. LeGuin

Make it new. –Ezra Pound


Writing A Query: part three

October 23, 2011

This is the final blog on query writing. I hope the last post didn’t worry you. ‘Do Not’ lists tend to take on a negative tone. When someone tells me not to do something, I often do it anyway, but hopefully, you took note.

Here’s a brief rundown on what should be in a query.


  1. Be professional, in every way. This includes spelling, salutations, and structure.
  2. Begin your query with a direct connection. If you’ve met the agent before, remind her or him. If not, mention why you are writing to them specifically. Do you like another author they represent? Did you hear them speak at a conference?
  3. Give them the reason you are writing: such as, you want them to consider representing you and your book (give the title of your book here and now).
  4. Add the word-count to your manuscript.
  5. What’s the genre and who will read it? Say so.
  6. The second or third paragraph should be a summary of your entire book, complete with a compelling hook. Hard to do? Yes.
  7. In the next paragraph do a brief marketing piece and compare your book to another book or two.  If another novel with a similar voice or structure was hugely popular, that might help your book find success with the same audience. This paragraph should also prove that you’ve done your homework and know the industry. However, do not (okay, so I snuck one ‘do not’ in here) say that you will become the next JK Rowling.
  8. Give your professional credentials that relate to the book.
  9. Thank the agent for considering your work.
  10. After you sign your name, let them know what you are including (remember, only include what is asked in the submission guidelines!).

Good luck!



Writing A Query: part two

October 15, 2011

If you missed my last submission, back up and read it.


Now, follow my top ten suggestions of what NOT to do when pitching work to an agent. In your query…

Do not use anything but a basic font. Old English scroll might look pretty, but

it won’t get you published.

  1. Do not spell the agent’s name incorrectly
  2. Be professional, and do not begin your letter with “Dear Carrie, What’s up?” Begin, “Dear Ms. Brown-Wolf,”.  Also, don’t call me Mr..
  3. Do not go over one page. As much as you have to say, limit your words in a query.
  4. Do not tell the agent that your kids love the book. Maybe they do, but the agent is looking for a broader audience.
  5. Do not double space. It’s the only place you don’t need to double space.
  6. Do not use a .3 margin or a 3.3 margin. I know you want to get attention, but use your words to do it.
  7. Do not use the wrong date.
  8. Do not use an address or agency name that does not match the agent you’re writing.
  9. Do not forget to end professionally (no begging either).

It’s hard stuff, but you can do it. My next post will present a top ten to-do list and walk you through the madness. But lest I forget, make sure you have someone review your query. Sleep on it. Rewrite it again. And again.


Writing A Query: part one

October 8, 2011

What is a query, besides a word that’s hard for me to spell? A query, which my troubled brain believes should be spelled with two r’s, is a letter. It’s that simple, and yet, it’s anything but.

To be effective a query must grab an agent’s attention immediately. If it doesn’t, no one will read your manuscript. Writing a query is so not simple, that I’m splitting this post into three different blogs. Today, I’ll only explain, and hopefully, get you started. Next, I’ll post both a do and don’t list that you can follow when writing your query.

In the industry, an author begins the publishing process by finding an agent. This is done by following the submission guidelines on the agent’s website. Exactly. There are guidelines that ask for synopsis, sample chapters, or a singular page of work. However, I have yet to find a set of submission guidelines that doesn’t involve a query.

Is there one right way to write a query? Yes and no. I’ll focus on writing a query for publishing manuscripts, but a query for magazine writing, on-line pitches, or for any editor, follows a very similar method.

First, get started. Research agents before you query so that your letter can be written specifically to them. They will know if you are mass mailing, so don’t. Create an outline using three components: a reason to pitch, a summary of your book, and your credentials. All of this must be done on one page. You can do it, but it will take some work. Get started!


To Twit or Not to Twit, That is the Question

October 1, 2011

My daughter came home from high school the other day and informed me that if you major in technology, what you learn your freshman year in college will be dead by your junior year. True? Who knows. But, it’s terrifying no less. Heck, I still miss telephone dials that you poked your finger into and spun.

As writers, we do need technology. Computers have transformed the way we write, making it easier to delete, spell, and count our words. The use of the internet makes research a breeze, and certainly the move toward e-books has transformed the industry. But my mind struggles with how much time writers should spend playing with technology. Certainly we should be using technology to promote our work. The possibilities seem to increase daily. Websites, blogs, Facebook, and twitter are only the beginning.  However, there’s a fine, thin line between procrastinating and productivity. If I post on Facebook, of course I’m going to spend just a little time reading what 450 friends are doing. Who wouldn’t?  It’s easy to get caught in the web of social marketing when maybe, what we should be doing, is simply writing.

With that thought, I’m off to work on my manuscript. Enough procrastination for today.