Friday, April 3, 2015

Friday Fricassee

Happy First Friday of April!

April = spring
April = blog anniversary (7 years next week!)
April = my birthday (I've decided to celebrate for an entire weekend this year. Absolutely.)

So, first things first:  I want to thank each one of you who took the time to offer your advice and encouragement last Friday.  At first, I started to swim through the comments, meaning to respond to each one individually.  But that didn't quite work for me.  So please accept this public post as my heartfelt thank you to EACH OF YOU.

You offered me clarity.  You helped me to see possibilities I couldn't see.  I am so grateful.

I don't have an update for you.  I'm supposed to know by the end of today whether or not I've made it to the next step, which I assume will be an interview.  No matter what happens, though, I feel incredibly peaceful about it.  What a precious gift you've given me!

Anyway.  Let's talk about writing stuff.  Specifically, QUERYING.

I admittedly haven't chatted about queries much recently.  This week on Twitter, though, there was a small kerfuffle over a query letter sent by some hapless writer who apparently copied every agent in the Northern Hemisphere on the same email.  Some of the agents, in their rejection emails, started to "reply to all", so it became a monstrous thing for a short while, much to the chagrin of the affected agents.

I'm absolutely certain that nobody HERE sent that query letter.  For real.

I do want to throw a couple things out there, though, to those of you who are preparing to embark on your first--or subsequent--round of queries:

1.  If nobody else has read your manuscript, PLEASE DO NOT QUERY AGENTS.  It has surprised me to sometimes receive submissions for my editing business in which the authors inform me that I'm the first person to read the manuscript, and that they're planning on querying after receiving my feedback.

No.  First of all, we all need critique partners.  And that word is plural because we need to receive feedback from different people.  "Different people" doesn't mean Mom or our fifth grade English teacher or our best friend.  It means WRITERS WE CLICK WITH AND TRUST.

Please don't give your manuscript a once-through and then send it out.  Please don't hire an editor--even if it's me--as your one-step-before-querying.  Give your manuscript the time and attention it deserves.  Make sure it REALLY SPARKLES before you send it out there.

2.  Please carefully research agents before you send your queries.  I'm sure this is a no-brainer for most of you, but when things like this week's query-to-thousands hit the internet, it reminds me that, yes, there are folks out there who are just beginning to navigate the scary waters.

It's easier than ever to research agents nowadays!  When I first started querying (shortly after the discovery of fire), agents were just taking baby steps toward accepting e-queries.  Agent Kristin Nelson actually had a list on her blog of agents who accepted email, and I remember being absolutely thrilled by this.  Now, a decade later, it's hard to find an agent who will still accept snail mail.  And it's also hard to beg the excuse that you don't know how to go about finding out which agents represent your genre.  Almost all agencies and/or individual agents have web sites.  Many have blogs.  There are wonderful web sites like QueryTracker that offer easy-to-navigate agent information in one, convenient place.  And, yes, there's Twitter (which is NOT for accosting/querying/harassing agents--but that's another post altogether).

So do your homework, please.  Represent yourself professionally and thoughtfully, and you will have a fighting chance of rising to the top.

If you're in the midst of querying right now, give a shout out in the comment box.  That way, we can cheer you on and offer a few high fives and fist bumps and probably something alcoholic.

Have a fabulous weekend, everyone!  And thanks again for being wonderful.


  1. Luckily came to your place.
    Hope to connect with all EBooks Authors helping each others.

  2. Thanks for the reminders! I have not had good luck locating faithful or long-term critique partners. I feel like it is not going to happen. I have had a few people read my work, but they were "cheerleaders" and did not really help with direction.

    Happy Easter. He is Risen!

  3. Querying! Or about to be, again, as soon as I tweak some voice issues. I've had excellent rejections!

  4. If it wasn't true, that would almost be a funny story.

    I have just started querying while I am working on something new. Thanks Authoress for all that you do for writers, and I hope everything works out wonderfully for you. Yours is one blog I read faithfully, though I don't always participate, and I am waiting confidently for the day you announce you've got a publishing deal.

  5. Like you said the critique partners PLURAL is so important. I get a lot of conflicting thoughts back from my critique partners and some of it boils down to personal likes/dislikes, so I focus on what is in common in the feedback - what they all point out is a problem.

    I just got a partial request this morning, so I'm feeling slightly hopeful again in the querying process after a long stretch of passes.

  6. I hadn't heard about the Reply All query debacle. Every so often that happens at my day job, where someone emails the entire company, followed by the expected responses (also Reply All) Why did I get this? Who is Jim? etc etc :headdesk:

    Agree it's probably safe to say that nobody who's ever touched this website would be so careless. There is so much online about publishing and writing, there really is no excuse. But just in talking with non-writers--particularly extended family members who want to know about my writing but who know zero about publishing--their questions and ideas of how this all works are quite enlightening to why agents have hundreds of entries to their slushpile which are immediate deletions.

    Though, there are some who will do what they want no matter the advice. The professional writers group I belong to had a member come through last year who planned to self pub from day one. I watched this person attend all the same workshops and speakers and meetings I did, where tons of advice on writing, self pub, marketing were shared. This person determined they were good enough to catch their own typos and eschewed any editors or critique partners and hit print. The early reviews were not kind. They had access to all the necessary resources and chose not to use them.

  7. Happy Birthday Weekend! Mine was the 30th, a Monday, so I took the whole weekend. FAIR.

    And whoa. That email. Poor person, they must be traumatized.

  8. Authoress:

    Good luck with whatever happens with your professional life. You have to do what is best for you and your family. Having said that, I would miss this blog dearly if it were to go away. I have found in this site, a great group of people whose mission is the same as mine: enjoy writing and become published.

    I do have a question about a critique partner? How do you go about getting one? I've been posting my queries, first 250, synopsis on the AgentQuery website and getting great feedback there. Should I try and find a partner there? I've already had one member ask to swap with me, but I'm not sure if I should do this. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.


  9. Happy birthday and anniversary!
    Your query tips are great! I used Twitter to research agents last summer. One shared ideas of what he's looking for in an MS, and I was able to use that info in my query letter. He asked for my full MS! Ultimately, he passed, but I'm sure the extra info I got from his Twitter feed helped get his attention.
    Good luck everyone.