Category Archives: Querying/Submitting

New Year’s Start on Queries, Editing

The holidays are finally at an end! Between Thanksgiving, preparations for Christmas, Christmas itself, and New Year’s, I’ve been off my regular schedule (writing and otherwise) for about two months straight. But now I’m back! And instead of making New Year’s Resolutions to foster new and better habits, I’m focusing on the habits I need to get back into. Here’s my list of things to do.

I’ll be back and blogging at SM Blooding and Crew on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month (that’s beginning this coming Tuesday, everyone).

I’ll send out more queries of FLYNN. The first round (of course) did not produce results. Honestly, I would’ve been surprised if it did. But armed with my subscription to Guide to Literary Agents,I ought to find someone who wants to see the full manuscript.

After NaNoWriMo this year, I have a good start on the rought draft for FLYNN II. It’s official title is under construction. I’ll be doing more work on that in the following months.

Now on to my new ventures.

I’m entering the first 500 words of FLYNN into a contest at Kidlit.com, a very helpful blog written by an associate agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

My friend Kristine Pratt (who I met at a writer’s conference back in ’08) recently started up her own publishing company, Written World Communications. She asked me to be a (volunteer) assistant to one of her editors! It’s quite an exciting venture. I review proposals, manuscripts, and also short stories for the magazine. We just sent a round of submissions to Pub Board, so before too long, I’ll begin the editing process with the chosen candidates! Not to mention that I may get to help with layout of the magazine, a field which I feel I could easily excel at but have never had the opportunity to become familiar with.

Oh yes, and I may also be getting a part-time-job. As in, one that will give me a paycheck. FLYNN and my graphic novel are already full time jobs in and of themselves, but, well….they won’t pay for a second car, now will they?

Stay tuned to this blog throughout the coming year. I’m excited about the prospects of 2010, and I hope you are too.

RHDavis

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A Painless Rejection Letter–Does Such A Thing Exist?

Yes, you heard it here first, folks. I got a rejection letter (er, e-mail) that actually wasn’t painful. Here’s why.

One year ago this summer, I sent a proposal of my then-unfinished novel FLYNN to a publishing house. I had connections through a writer’s conference, and expected to hear back promptly.

Nothing happened for months. Over time, I came to assume that they didn’t want the thing, so I counted it a loss and went about finishing and revising the novel. Over time, I came to see that FLYNN actually needed a lot more work and time to be the best it could be.

A couple of days ago, I got an e-mail from that publisher. A year later! They apologized profusely for not getting back to me sooner. Apparently the proposal was changing hands from one editor to another and somehow got lost. It was unearthed a few days ago, at which point they sent me the e-mail.

In the time between last year and this year, they closed their doors on new YA fantasy. So FLYNN was officially rejected because of an accident and a change in policy, not because they didn’t like it. That has got to be the most painless rejection of all time. Not to mention the most fortuitous–if I’d had to rush finishing and editing it, it wouldn’t be nearly as good as it is today. Thank you, happy accidents!

RHDavis

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Query Letter Guidelines

What does a good query letter look like? Well, that depends on who you ask. Frustrating as it is, different sources will give you different query letter guidelines. I know this because I’m in the process of querying for FLYNN, and have read two books and several web sites on the subject.

Here are the guidelines which seem to be consistent. A query should: give a concise description of the work; have a hook; make the agent want to keep reading; look and sound professional; be error free.

Beyond those bare basics, I’m afraid it gets confusing. No two sources give the exact same advice. Some say to give a general overview of the story; some say to give only a paragraph-long taste of it. Some say to include a paragraph about your writing credentials; some say to keep it to one sentence. Some say to only talk about your book, while some say to mention your bio and your genre’s market.

So which source do you listen to? When crafting that all-important query, whose guidelines do you follow?

The answer is actually very easy. Follow the guidelines of the particular agent you’re submitting to.

Yup. Different agents want different things in a query, so even if you were to find the “standard” query guideline in some magical book, you’d still have to change each individual letter you sent to fit that agent’s criteria. Most agents have query letter preferences somewhere on their web site, so do your homework.

Does this mean writing a new letter for each agent? No. Your hook will stay the same, and your book’s summary will probably stay the same for most agents. Some may request a short summary of only one paragraph, and for those you might write a whole new letter. But most of their special requirements will only pertain to how much you write about yourself, and whether or not they want you to address how your book fits into the market (most agents don’t look for that in the query letter, but some do).

So look at all those “writing a good query” books and get advice from them, but in the end, craft the final draft according to the individual’s preference.

For sources of general query advice (remember, these are books, not stone tablets with eternal commands), check out:

YOUR NOVEL PROPOSAL: FROM CREATION TO CONTRACT by Blythe Camenson and Marshall J. Cook

 YOUR FIRST NOVEL by Ann Rittenberg and Laura Whitcomb

RHDavis

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And the winner is…….

Thanks to everyone who voted for my query letter hook! The winner is a hybrid combination of sentences 2 and 4, with a hint of 3.

“Sixteen-year-old Flynn thinks learning about her dead parents is a dream come true—until she’s asked to live up to their legacy by leading the army to war.”

I appreciated that you guys took time to actually analyze why you liked or didn’t like each sentence. Many of you will be pleased to see that the telepathic sorcerers no longer make a cameo in this sentence. 🙂   It’s for the best–as one of my readers said, it over-simplifies who the bad guys actually are, and makes the reader think that fighting those bad guys is the book’s primary source of conflict (they are the occasion  for inner conflict, which is the primary conflict).

Anyway, again, thanks for the votes. Please join me this week as I discuss my experiences agent-hunting and query-writing on this blog.

RHDavis

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