Writing Tips for Your Query Process:
Every year when the new Writer’s Market book, published by Writer’s Digest Books, hits the shelves I actually kick off my red stiletto’s for my Nike Shock’s and hit the pavement running. If you are an aspiring writer, this book is an absolute must have.
The real guts of the book is that it takes the pain staking research hours out of play and provides you with literally thousands of seeking publishers, agents, contests, and the like, all in one delicious lump sum. However, I’m noticing a trend in the submission process and I’m not sure I’m acclimating well to it.
I have to admit, when I settled into my office recliner with my vodka tonic in hand, salivating as I cracked the new spine over all of this year’s dollar signs … I noticed that the same writing and submissions advice still painted its pages, but the new ways in which writer’s are emerging and marketing has vastly shifted. Where I used to buy Writer’s Market because it did all the work for me, now I can no longer type up a short one page query with a nice pretty hook and end with a, “I look forward to hearing from you soon.” Instead, my required level of work just to sell my piece has quadrupled. In 2002 it was as simple (well, simpler) as buying my precious archival book, following its directions on who to submit to and what they wanted via a short descriptive list, visit their website for research, and send it off with a little author bio and a great big fat reason for them to pay me.
What my Writer’s Market 2013 book now tells me is that it’s all about networking, websites, author platforms, and public relations. My yearly ritual has gone from buying a book to fuel a year’s worth of submissions to sitting here in my recliner going, “Holy crap, you want me to do WHAT?”
I’m almost forty. I have two grown children out of the house, and just today I tried learning how to use Face Time on my iphone and ended up talking to a photo of myself for 5 minutes without realizing it. Fortunately, I’m a great conversationalist so the time was well spent. Fact of the matter is that I’m not a huge technical person, and it took me three weeks just to figure out how to set up a free WordPress site, and now four weeks into it I’m just now discovering how my blog allows me to connect to other readers. I’m old school, and these new ways and infrastructure’s of selling my work are daunting.
Thus, take my writing tips and writing advice with a grain of salt on your margarita rim and understand that you may be far more advanced that I in the world web of wide, but sometimes, old school does work.
Writing Submission Tip One: Buy Writer’s Market Here
Writing Submission Tip Two: Pick a publisher/agent/contest and Research until the tonic runs out. Then, drink water and start over. Go to the store for more tonic.
Writing Submission Tip Three: Write to authors whom the publisher has a contract with if you can find their contact information. Typically located on their personal websites. Don’t be afraid to ask them for advice. Start getting your name out there and be fearless. I don’t know where it is in my Writer’s Market book but somewhere between the coffee stains is a quote that goes something like, ‘The writer that never gives up is the one that eventually someone remembers.’ Just last week I read an interview on Writers Digest Online with Agent Kristina Holmes and I was so moved by her detailed passion to expose new writers that instead of pitching right away I wrote to another author she has represented and asked about their experience. This author told me right away, “Write her, she loves feedback, she’d love to know how you feel about her purpose.” So, I did. She asked me to pitch her my novel. You absolutely NEVER know where your next lead is going to come from.
Writing Submission Tip Four: Sometimes, it’s not just about how many hits your blog site but the quality of your query letter. STUDY great query letters, and ask others who have had articles, stories, essays, etc., published to show you their original query letters. Most writer’s are willing to share their good skills as long as you’re not going up for the same pitch with the same agent!
Writing Submission Tip Five: This is going to sound cracked -out but let me tell you, it worked for me … I kept getting rejection letters back on an article I’d submitted and I really for the life of me couldn’t figure out why. I’d followed a detailed query from Writer’s Digest’s infinite query library and pretty much done just about everything but plagiarize it. What was I doing wrong? So, I went old school. I printed it out, put it in an envelope, and mailed the sucker to myself. Sometimes, seeing something fresh and from a different perspective helps. I got the letter from myself today in the mail and after the initial recall that it was not in fact an acceptance letter but my own, I ripped into it. Yeah, it was terrible. What was I thinking?
Pitching your work online via your blog is great because it can give you immediate feedback, or no feedback at all which is telling – however, it is the quality that you really need to help you get better at pitching to publishers? I love my blog at http://www.itsneverinvain.com but the truth is, sometimes I need to be schooled by an expert rather than have my ego stroked. The best advice I have today, as I sit and look at my screen’s acceptance letter of a children’s book I’ve sold (Littered with red edits the editor is requiring me to make, along with a title change) is to be authentic, be ever in pursuit of making ‘real’ connections, and if all else fails, pour another gin and tonic and write yourself a love letter. The cost of a stamp is worth a necessary harmless stroke of ego sometimes.
Best of luck, break a leg, and write on fellow writer’s of soul!
Published By Cyril P Abraham