Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What I Need When I’m Editing

I think an important part of editing (and writing for that matter) is having a space that is yours. It can be your favorite comfy chair, your desk, your home office, but you need to make sure the conditions work for you.

I can write/edit with music blaring, my boyfriend yelling at a football game, the phone ringing, dogs barking…noise just doesn’t bother me. I’m able to tune all that out, but I do need easy access to snacks. It’s sad, but no matter where I’m writing, I have a glass of water to my right and a bag of twizzlers (or other candy) to my left. I know this sounds crazy (and I don’t always eat the candy…okay, who am I kidding, I do) but just having these things around makes me able to focus on the task at hand.

I have a laptop and I work better on the couch then at my desk. I like to be comfortable so I can “zone into” my work. I think a big part of buckling down and writing or getting around to that edit is making yourself happy in the space that you have.

Tomorrow – Tips on Self Editing

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Edit, Edit, Edit

I just emailed my edited manuscript to my agent, so the next few posts are all going to be about editing. I can only talk about what works for me…so if you have your own way, super awesome.

The first thing I want to address is something every writer faces…self doubt. It’s not unusual, when you send your work out into the world, to be a little touchy about it. It’s your baby, something you poured your heart and soul into. You want everyone to love it as much as you do, just as it is. Okay, now get over that and become a writer.

No one writes a masterpiece on the first go. Writing is editing. The thing is, you have to be able to take a critique and pull out the things that will strengthen your writing. You have to shift through a lot of subjective crap, people’s preferences and pet-peeves, to distill the helpful comments.

Go with your gut. If someone hates a part you love, leave it be…if five people hate a part you love, ask yourself why. You may have to cut something you thought was fantastic, or rewrite something you believed to be perfect, but in the end, your book will be better. No one gets it right the first time.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Books Make the Best Presents

Here are some of the Books I got for Christmas!

Zombies vs. Unicorns – Holly Black
I already know I’m a zombie girl.

The Ring of Solomon – Jonathan Stroud
I’m super psyched to read this fourth book in the Bartemaeis Series.

The Lazarus Project – Aleksandar Hemon
My boyfriend got this for me because it was the only “grown-up” book on my Amazon wishlist…he can be such a snob! J

What books did you all get?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

One Month Blog-iversary

Hi everyone. I’ve been blogging for exactly one month. I started when I decided on an agent and thought, “I should start a blog to promote my writing.” I’ve learned a ton in the past month and made great contacts with other writers, all in various stages of their careers.

What I didn’t expect was how addictive blogging is. Not just writing one, but reading what other people have to say and commenting. I follow a gazillion blogs now, mostly YA related, although I do follow other random people who are just really interesting.

As a new blogger, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone for making my blogging experience so great…and eventually I’ll be an old blogger.

So I’m off to edit my manuscript now for submission…I won’t be back until Monday, but that’s what I’ll be talking about next week. Edit. Edit. Edit. See you next week.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Now What? - Informing the Other Agents

So you wrote your novel, queried like crazy, talked to agents, received multiple offers of representation, and chose your agent…what do you do now? While some of you may still be in the querying process, and are hoping for even one agent to make an offer, it’s always good to prepare for the best.  Eventually you’ll need to know what to say to an agent when you’ve gone with someone else.

It’s a strange feeling, having the balance of power shift slightly. Only you can decide who is best for you…so take a couple of weeks. It’s a big decision and you don’t want to rush it. After you decide, inform the agent you want first…and make sure they get back to you, before you inform the others. Maybe I’m just super cautious, but I wanted to make sure my agent knew I wanted them before I started turning other people down.

Next, send out a quick email. Yes, email is perfectly acceptable. We’ve all gotten enough rejection letters to be familiar with the content. Mine went something like this:

Dear agent so and so,

Thank you so much for the great talk, but unfortunately I have chosen to go with another agent. Thank you for your time.


Short and sweet. A couple of agents emailed me back, asking who I decided on, so I told them. There’s no reason not to. That email looked something like this:

I've decided on an agent named Katherine Boyle at Veritas Literary. Even though you have a million things going for you, I really connected with Katherine. Her editorial advice was spot on, and I kind of wanted to go with a smaller agency. This was seriously the toughest decision; I think it was easier to decide what college I wanted to go to! I think no matter what agent I chose, I will always be thinking, "what if?" but I had to go with my gut. Thanks again.

Okay, so with this one I prattled on a bit…but you get the idea. Always be polite and tell them why you went with the agent you chose, not why you didn’t go with them. Also thank them…everyone appreciates a thank you.

Next time – Advice on editing…which is what I’m doing now!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Why I Chose My Agent

As I mentioned earlier, I spoke with several agents this time around. (This was quite a bit better than my last attempt at finding an agent, which resulted in me speaking with a whopping zero.) Although they all seemed great, I really clicked with the last agent I spoke with, after I’d already thought my mind was made up. Here’s why…

1)      She was enthusiastic about my novel. I think this one is a no brainer; any agent who wants to represent your work needs to be enthusiastic.
2)      I thought her editorial comments were spot-on. You know that one critique partner who gets what you’re trying to do and makes insightful suggestions to make your work better? Yeah, that was her. One other agent I spoke with wanted to change things too much and another thought it could be sent out as it was...but I wanted to make my work the best I could keeping with my original vision.
3)       She took the time to explain the process to me. We spoke for over an hour and she went through what would happen next step by step. She explained how advances work and how much say I would probably have over my cover. She also told me what would happen if we don’t sell this particular book. I felt like she was open and honest and not just trying to woo me.
4)      She sounded excited about what I’m writing now. Now only did she suggest making In the After into a series, she made it clear that she wanted to represent me, not just my book.
5)      We just clicked. Sometimes you have a connection with someone and you want that with your agent. One agent I spoke with seemed a bit awkward on the phone…and if she was awkward with me, I wondered how she’d be with publishers.

In addition, she’s been an agent for a while and has her own, long established agency. I could go on, but you get the idea. Hopefully this is helpful when you all choose your agent.

Tomorrow – After you choose, what do you say to the other agents that didn’t make the cut?

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Call - Part Two - What to Ask

When I talked to the first agent who offered representation, I had a list of questions I got from the internet…which was basically a bust. I asked if she had publishers in mind already (of course she did, or she wouldn’t want to represent my book.) The following are the questions I thought were most important:

1)      What do you think is the strongest thing about my manuscript?
2)      What do you think is the weakest thing about my manuscript?
3)      How much editing do you think it needs? A few tweaks, or a complete overhaul?
4)      What are some of your favorite books?
5)      What happens next?
6)      Will you help me with a blog/website?
7)      Will you go to New York to pitch my project? (If they aren’t already in NY)

As you can see, I was mostly interested in editorial suggestions and ended up picking the agent I thought had the best insight into my manuscript. You may think other things are more important, like being NY based or belonging to a large agency.

The main thing to look for is if you click. Over the course of your conversation, you'll get a feel for the agent and can see if you're on the same page. There is no perfect agent, only the perfect agent for you. With that cliché, I’ll leave you to it.

Next week…more on choosing an agent.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Call - Part One - What to Know

Just because an agent has asked to speak with you, doesn’t mean you’re in…not yet. Sometimes an agent wants to “feel you out” first, to make sure they want to work with you. Sometimes, especially if they’ve requested a full, they want to tell you why they’re not making an offer of representation, and will tell you that you’re welcome to query them again. Sometimes they just loved your work so much they want to snag you before anyone else can…let’s all hope for the last one!

Before you speak to any agent you should already know the following:

1)   What is their track record? Do they work for a reputable agency and have an interest in your genre? Have they recently sold books in your genre?
2)   What other authors they represent? You can always ask them to email you a list with specifics before you talk. You may know a couple (or you wouldn’t have queried them) but it’s good to see the whole picture.
3)   How long have they been in the business? This can usually be found on their website. Are they established as an agent, or new to the game? A new agent isn’t necessarily bad; do they work for a bigger agency?
4)   Do they have a web presence? How google-able are they…might help later when it comes to promoting your book.

Remember: Do your homework. You should already know a lot about an agent before you query them, but make yourself as familiar as possible with them before you speak to them.

Tomorrow - The Call Part Two - What to Ask

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Offer of Representation – What the Hell Do I Do Now?

You’ve sent out your full manuscript to an interested agent and you get an email back. They love your work and want to speak with you on the phone, or maybe they offer you representation right there and then.

So what do you do now? Well, you can do your happy dance and jump at the opportunity, or you can take a deep breath and think about things. Was this agent your first choice? Who else has a full? A partial?

The polite and professional thing to do is to speak with the agent (tomorrow I’ll talk about “the call”) but tell them you need a week or two to decide. Then alert all the agents who have a full or partial that you’ve received an offer of representation and would like to give them the opportunity to finish your manuscript before you make your final decision. Give them a time frame. Two weeks is probably the most you want to keep the original agent waiting.

A couple of things could happen. 1) They can say that they are still interested and would like some time to finish. Once you let them know someone else is interested, they’ll put your manuscript to the top of their list. Or 2) They’ll pass because they don’t have the time or do not want to get into an agent race.

Once they read the manuscript, they still might pass, but it’s good to keep your options open. An agent may ask who made the original offer. This may seem rude, but really, they just want to know who their competition is and that you’re not being scammed by a fake agent. I would say tell them. There’s no reason not to.

Even if you loved that original agent, speak to each one who wants to represent you. There’s a tendency to go with the first agent who shows interest, but it’s good for you, as a writer, to hear what multiple agents have to say. I actually went with the last agent I spoke with. You never know who is going to be best for you until you weigh all your options.

Tomorrow – The Call - What to ask and what to know

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Checking on Status – When is it okay?

You’ve submitted a partial to an agent and now you’re waiting to hear back with a reply…when do you email for status? Don’t be the person who waits a week, can’t take it, and starts to hound the agent. If they said they’ll review your work…they will. Give it time. (Unless you get an offer of representation, then that’s a whole ‘nother story which I’ll talk about tomorrow.) So, when can you check on status?

Query – Never. You may think it’s polite to call and make sure the agent received your query or to check in after a couple months…but it’s not. If you don’t receive an email it’s a rejection. Sorry, but thems the facts.

Partial or Full – Most agents will tell you their response time when they request a partial or full. This is usually between 6 – 8 weeks. In my experience, agents overestimate…if an agent likes your query, they’ll review your partial within a few weeks and your full within a month, but that’s just what happened to me. You have to wait the amount of time the agent has told you before you should check on status.

After the appropriate amount of time, send off a quick email.

Dear so and so, you requested a partial of my manuscript blah blah blah, which I sent to you on such and such a date. I know you’re extremely busy, but I would like to check on the status of my submission. Thank you for your time.

You want to keep it professional and not sound whiny. Agents are very busy, but they’re generally not jerks. If you ask nicely they’ll reply with a new estimate of how long it will take them to read your work. There’s nothing wrong with sending them a little reminder, after the appropriate amount of time.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Oh Joy of Joys – A Not Rejection

One day you’ll open up an email and instead of a form rejection, it will be a partial request. After you jump up and down and do a little dance, make sure you reread the email carefully. As with queries, you want to give the agent exactly what they ask for in a timely fashion. (That’s why you should never query unless your book is written and polished.)

Partial Request – Agents will ask for anywhere from ten to fifty pages, or three to five chapters. Make sure you give them what they want. My first few chapters were very short, so even though I attached my three chapters, it was only eight pages. I made sure to state this in my email. Don’t presume they want more than they ask for; it may annoy the agent.

Synopsis Request – Sometimes agents will request a partial and a full synopsis. I’ll go into greater detail later, but a synopsis is usually about ten pages and highlights the major plot point and twists of your book. Always include the ending. Agents need to know what happens.

Full Request – If an agent really likes your query or partial they’ll request the full manuscript. Again, this is why your manuscript has to be completed before you start querying. If someone requests a full and you don’t have it, you’ve just ruined your chances with that agent.

Often times, if an agent requests a full, they’ll ask if you’ve submitted to other agents. You don’t have to tell them everyone you’ve queried, only those agents that are currently reviewing a partial or full manuscript. Just tell them that you have three partials and one full with other agents, not who the agent is.

After you send out your manuscripts, it’s time for more waiting. Good news though, if an agent requests a partial or full, you’ll hear back from them. It might be a rejection, but they’ll usually tell you why they’re passing on it, something that might help you if you need to revise.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Try Not to Cry – How to Handle Rejection

So you have your first reply email from an agent, you open it super excited and it reads something like:

Thank you for your submission. Unfortunately, we do not feel like this work is a good fit for us. Best of luck.

Don’t freak out. If you cry hysterically every time you get a rejection you’ll live an incredibly stressful life.

Let’s face the facts, not everyone will love your book. You know that old saying, you can’t please all of the people all of the time. In my case, some people just don’t like YA Fantasy. Some people won’t like my plot, some won’t like my writing style, and some won’t like my characters…but here’s the thing, some will.

Here was my query track record for a book I wrote in 2008:

            Queries Sent Out – over 100
            Rejections – 56
            Partial Requests – 0
            Full Requests – 0

And here it is for my current book, In the After:
            Queries Sent Out – 34
            Rejections – 17
            Partial Requests – 10
            Full Requests (after partials) – 8
            Final Rejections – 2
            Pass for Time Restraints - 1
            Offers of Representation – 5

So what does this tell me? Maybe I became a better writer over the past two years, or found a more marketable idea. I also did better research this time around and sent out less queries, but to agents who represent YA sci-fi and fantasy.           

Even though I had several interested agents, I also had many many rejections. If all you receive are rejections, put this manuscript away and write another book. Do not give up. If I gave up in 2008, I would still be agent-less and wondering what could have been.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Waiting Game

You've emailed your query to several agents and now you’re sitting in front of your computer hitting refresh every ten seconds. First off, you need to relax. Agents can take as long as three months to respond, that’s why you don’t want to send out one query at a time.

The least amount of time it’s taken an agent to respond to me is three hours (with a rejection to my query) the most is three months (with a partial request after I’d already signed with an agent). For my current manuscript, it took me exactly one month to go through the whole process, from querying to agent. I’m not bragging, that was just my experience on this go around…I’ve queried before and received nothing but rejections, which I’ll talk about tomorrow.

If you thought writing a novel was hard, you’ll see it was a cake walk compared to what comes next. Believe me, I know how difficult it is to send your idea off and hope that someone is interested. The truth is, a lot of agents won’t even reply. That means that they’re are not interested. It’s common to ask for status on a partial or a full after a couple of months, but if they don’t respond to your query, don’t hound them.

My advice? Keep writing. Begin another book. Distract yourself until the replies come in.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Finding an Agent - Method to the Madness

How do you keep track of all your queries going out?

You can do a couple of things. You can send a query to every agent ever and hope that one of them likes your manuscript…or you can save yourself time and postage.

Pick a top ten to query. Email / snail mail these ten agents. Wait a day (or week) depending on your schedule and your ambition level, then query ten more.

Just like you don’t want to send out a thousand queries at once that are impossible to keep track of, you don’t want to send out one at a time. If you send out one, and wait for a reply before you send out another, you’ll be a hundred years old and still not published.

I stayed organized by setting up special email folders to keep track of my queries, rejections, and partial/full manuscript requests. I was able to access information about a certain agent in seconds because I did a little pre-query planning.

If you’re super organized you can make a spreadsheet with the agents name and query status (sent, rejected, requests). That may be helpful for later on if this manuscript isn’t quite up to par, but your next one is. You can look at your spreadsheet and remember that so and so requested a partial, but ultimately passed. Include that info in your new query letter. Remember, getting published is a marathon, not a sprint. Save yourself wasted time and effort by planning ahead.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Finding an Agent - Which Agents to Query

So you have your kick-ass query…now where do you send it? Do some research. If you write historical fiction, check out the acknowledgements in your favorite books, they’re bound to be agents listed. You want to make sure that you are contacting real agents though, and not scam artists. A real agent will never charge you a reading fee.

This website is great, . You can search by name or genre and each agent lists contact info and preferences. Start by querying agents that represent your genre.

Make sure you read individual guidelines. Some agents want only a query, while some want sample chapters. Some prefer email queries while others like snail mail. The first step to finding an agent is making that agent happy by following their guidelines.

Know who you’re querying. Even though my query wasn’t your standard, “Dear So and So,” I made sure that each letter I sent out had the agent’s name and contact info in the upper left corner, even the ones I emailed. That way, agents could tell that I knew who I was sending the letter to and that I put some thought into who I want my agent to be.

One more thing: Never ever ever send out a mass emailed query. This is a good way to offend a lot of people. Agents want to make sure that you’ve done the research and are querying them for a reason. It’s rude to lump all of them in together and comes off as lazy. This is your career…take the time!

Monday, December 6, 2010

First Query Critique Ever!

The following is a query posted by Brandi of Blkosiner's Book Blog. Brandi has three versions of her query. I think that #3 is the strongest, so that’s the one I’ve used. Thanks for letting me critique your query Brandi! Here's the original:

When love hurts more than it helps, Meredith must give up the man she fell in love with as well as the man who hurts her.

Spiraling from the loss of her beloved father, seventeen year old Meredith meets alluring charmer Kaden. At first, he breaks down her isolation and depression, allowing her to open up to him and others outside her family for the first time.

But Kaden soon changes - and their relationship changes with it. He begins to hurt her physically and emotionally, closing out family and friends she's just let in. Controlled and desperate, Meredith knows not to fight back. If she does, he’ll hit her again- and this time he might hurt the baby.

Until she finds out she is pregnant. Forced to think about the life of her unborn baby as well as her own, Meredith knows she has to let Kaden go if any of them are going to have a chance at a happy future. Meredith must make the most difficult decisions of her life to come out stronger, and to learn who she really is.

Here it is again. I’ve gone over it line by line. My comments are italicized.

When love hurts more than it helps, Meredith must give up the man she fell in love with as well as the man who hurts her. (This has the potential to be a very good hook. I think it has to be a bit more powerful to convey the emotion of being in an abusive relationship. You use love twice as well as hurts twice. What are these characters really feeling? Does she adore him? Does she worship him? What damage does he do to her? I love the phrasing of the first part…When love hurts more than it helps…it’s very good as a hook lead in.)

Spiraling (Needs more, such as spiraling into depression or spiraling out of control) from the loss of her beloved father, seventeen year old Meredith meets (the, an) alluring charmer (,) Kaden. At first, he breaks down her (barriers of, wall of) isolation and depression, allowing her to open up to him and others outside her family (probably don’t need outside her family) for the first time. (ever, or since her father’s death? It’s unclear.)

But Kaden soon changes - and their relationship changes (uses changes twice; maybe transforms) with it (him…this is referring to Kaden?). He begins to hurt (word choice…abuse, mistreat) her physically and emotionally, closing out family and friends she's just let in. (How? This might be made more vivid with an example) Controlled (not sure if this is the right word to use here…maybe bullied, terrorized, tormented, frightened, oppressed)  and desperate, Meredith knows not to fight back. If she does, he’ll hit her again- and this time he might hurt the baby. (This sentence is out of place here…we’ve not discovered she is pregnant until the next paragraph. Maybe make it clear that the baby is unborn…here it sounds like the baby is already around. Also, saying “the baby” makes it impersonal…how about her baby or their unborn child. Using “her” will makes Meredith connected to her child, while using “their” will highlight the dependency she feels for Kaden.)

(What does Meredith do until she finds out she is pregnant? Does she live in fear, live day to day, accept her fate, pray?)Until she finds out she is pregnant. Forced to think about the life of her unborn baby as well as her own, Meredith knows she has to let Kaden go if any of them are going to have a chance at a happy future. Meredith must make the most difficult decisions (decision – although there may be more than one in the book, you’ve only highlighted one in the query) of her life to come out (come out is not horribly descriptive) stronger, and to learn who she really is. This last sentence is awkward, and there is no reason to tell the agent what she chooses. I assume she leaves him, but you could very well have taken the depressing route and had her stay. The agent needs to know, even though your potential reader does not. Maybe put more emphasis on her internal struggle, the decision she must make.

What is the name of your book? It needs to be apparent to an agent, along with the genre and word count.

One final comment…I absolutely love the name Kaden for your bad boyfriend character. It’s sweet and harsh at the same time.

Thanks again Brandi. I hope my critique is helpful and best luck finding an agent!

Tomorrow – Which agents to query

Friday, December 3, 2010

My Query – In the After

So you can get a feel for a completed query, I’ve used mine as an example. The following is a query for my YA sci-fi novel tentatively titled, In the After. I have removed the spoiler bits.
            Katherine Boyle
Veritas Literary Agency
            601 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102

In the After

Amy has not spoken in three years. Not since They arrived; creatures with incredible hearing, amazing swiftness, and a taste for human flesh. They hunt by sound and Amy has learned to survive in a world of silence.

In the After is a Young Adult novel that addresses issues teens face everyday, but places them in the context of a post-apocalyptic scenario. Amy struggles as her normal teenage life collapses around her, only to be replaced with a world full of danger and fear. Amy has to choose between doing what is easy and doing what is right. She must ask herself, is safety more important than freedom?

In the After, Amy’s parents are gone. All of her friends are dead. The life she knew Before is over. Along with Baby, a child she saved from the creatures, she survives day to day, focused on staying alive, and most importantly, being quiet. When they are forced from their home, their only sanctuary from the flesh hungry creatures, Amy is determined to keep Baby alive and safe. <Sentence Removed>

<Paragraph Removed> With her new found knowledge, Amy is forced to choose between the safety she so desperately seeks and the freedom that she craves.

In the After is completed at 96,000 words. I would be happy to supply sample chapters upon request. Thank you for your time.

I hope this is helpful! I’d be happy to critique any query…as long as you don’t mind me putting it on my blog.

Next week…a query critique and what comes after you’ve completed your query.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Writing a Query – The Big Finish

So you have your hook, your synopsis, and now you need your bio. List any published works that relate. If you’ve published a short story, super awesome. If you won a school poetry contest in fifth grade, not so much.

If you don’t have any writing credits, don’t write anything. An agent does not need to know your marital status unless your book is on a healthy marriage or living single. You don’t have to say where you’re from unless it’s relevant. Believe me; it’s better to write nothing than bog your query down with useless info.

If you don’t have a relevant bio, just thank the agent for their time. Make sure you reiterate the name of your book and the word count. Keep it professional. My ending was simple.

In the After is completed at 96,000 words. I would be happy to supply sample chapters upon request. Thank you for your time.

Just remember; agents want to know the title of your book, the word count, and the genre. Make sure you have these three things somewhere in your query.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Writing a Query – The Synopsis

Some writers find this part insanely difficult; taking the book they spent so much time writing and breaking it down into a synopsis that is only a paragraph or two. This is extremely important, though. Don’t worry about hitting on every detail or plot point, keep it simple. Stick to the main character and major events. I actually took two paragraphs for my synopsis, but I wouldn’t recommend doing more than that.

Believe it or not, put in the ending of your book, even if it’s a shocker. Agents need to know what happens. You may think, “I’ll leave it out and they’ll be so interested they’ll request my manuscript at once!” but that’s just not how it works.

The following is my intro paragraph and the first part of my synopsis. (These come after the hook I mentioned in my earlier post.) I’ve left off the second paragraph of my synopsis because it gives too much away…wouldn’t want to ruin the end for anyone.

In the After is a Young Adult novel that addresses issues teens face everyday, but places them in the context of a post-apocalyptic scenario. Amy struggles as her normal teenage life collapses around her, only to be replaced with a world full of danger and fear. Amy has to choose between doing what is easy and doing what is right. She must ask herself, is safety more important than freedom?

In the After, Amy’s parents are gone. All of her friends are dead. The life she knew Before is over. Along with Baby, a child she saved from the creatures, she survives day to day, focused on staying alive, and most importantly, being quiet.

Notice how I state the name of the book and explain that it is YA sci-fi, both things an agent will want to know right away. My synopsis highlights the main plot points without getting into to much detail, but keeps the reader interested. (Well, hopefully anyway.)

Tomorrow: How to end your query.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Writing a Query – The Hook

A lot of people start their queries with “Dear So and So, I am writing you a query because I saw that you represent YA fiction and… blah blah blah.”

Okay, if you can’t come up with something better than that, maybe you shouldn’t be a writer. I would say do a “I am querying you because…” letter only if you’ve actually met the agent, or are being referred by one of their clients.

For my novel, tentatively entitled In the After, I skipped the intro and went right to the heart of my book. Here is the example of the hook I used:

In the After

Amy has not spoken in three years. Not since They arrived; creatures with incredible hearing, amazing swiftness, and a taste for human flesh. They hunt by sound and Amy has learned to survive in a world of silence.

As you’ll notice, I didn’t state the name of my book in the first paragraph, so I used it as a header. It’s important to get your title in, but you don’t want it to come across as awkward.

More tomorrow on writing a short synopsis.

Monday, November 29, 2010

What is a Query?

So you’ve written your novel, revised it, polished it, and feel it is ready for the world. Unless you have a relative in the publishing business, you’re going to need an agent. Most publishers won’t give you the time of day unless your manuscript is brought to them by an agent.

In order to snag an agent, you have to write a query. A query is a basic, one page letter that tells them what your work is about and who you are. You don’t want to fudge the query, or you’ll never get your foot in the door. Think about it, you just spent a year pouring your heart and soul into your work; you want to represent it in a way that expresses all the passion you feel. If you can’t convince an agent to view your work, you won’t convince a publisher to publish it.

Queries usually have three parts:
1) The hook – What makes your book awesome?
2) The synopsis – What is your book actually about?
3) Your bio – Why should anyone care that you wrote this book?

The rest of the week I’ll break the query down and give advice on writing each part.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Read, Read, and Read Some More

So you want to be a writer. You joined a critique group, took writing classes, and attempted to sell your soul to the devil to get published. You're on the right track...well, except for the soulless part. One more

So, say, just off the top of my head, you want to write YA Science Fiction and Fantasy, you have read everything you can get your hands on in the genre. You don't have to love every book, but think about what works and what doesn't. The more you read, the better your writing will be. I've read books and wondered, "How did this get published?!" then gone back through my writing to make sure I haven't made the same mistakes.

Next week (after the holiday) I'll go through the process of getting an agent, starting with queries. There's a ton of info on queries out there, but I'm going to break it down. Soon you'll grab an agent's attention and be on the road to becoming published.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Half Italian + Half Greek = All Crazy

So my name is a little odd, I'll admit.

Demitria is actually a fairly common Greek name, although I've seen it spelled Demetria more often than not. People sometimes drop the a and call me Demitri, which I'm pretty sure is Russian...and also masculine.

Lunetta is Italian and means little moon. I think this is also a first name, and sometime people think my name is Lunetta Demitria, instead of the other way around. Childhood was a little rough when everone else is named Sara or Lisa or Anne.

So what does being half Greek and half Italian get you? Well, I'm extrememly passionate, but I can't cook. I've been to Italy and hope to make it to Greece soon. And (Sorry to all you Greeks out there) I much prefer Italian food. There's something about roasting a whole goat that puts me off.

More (about writing) tomorrow!

Monday, November 22, 2010

First Blog Post Ever!

This is the very first post in a blog about writing and trying to "make it" in the publishing world. I have just gone through the query process and landed an agent, which I will talk about later. I'll also be writing about any great books that I've read and the random events of my life. Let the blogging begin!