Tag Archives: publishing

The Joys and Pains of Query Letters

As you know by now I’ve written three YA novels, the first I’ve deemed ‘not ready’ and the other two of which I have been seeking representation for. I began the whole query process roughly a year ago. It came back with all rejections for months, and then in the summer I got a requested full. I finished writing my next book while I waited for news to come back.

Unfortunately, being a literary agent is a very busy and stressful job, and the agent fell behind on reading through submissions and news still hasn’t come. That’s okay, I understand. I was beyond excited to get that full request in the first place. It gave me hope and a push to keep trying. I could wait. But I decided to start sending out more letters in the meantime, this time for newest manuscript.

Again, let the rejections roll. Then I started hearing about pitch contests on Twitter (as you also know by previous posts) and I participated in three of them. I received 3 favorites, 2 favorites, and 6 favorites for each pitch party (which means the agent/editor requested a partial of my material). Out of those 11, so far I have received 4 rejections, 1 full request, 2 I’m still waiting to hear back on, and the rest I decided not to send to because it felt like the wrong fit for me. So I know. I know how hard it is to wait, what it’s like to be rejected, how it feels to get a request, and all the crazy what-ifs that run through your head, both good and bad. Here are some tips to keep in mind if you’re at this same, crazy stage.

Don’t let the rejections kill your spirit. I know it hurts. You just want someone out there to believe in your work. You know how when you check your email on your phone or device you can usually read the first couple of sentences before you even open the letter? I got to the point where if I saw the word “unfortunately” in those first couple lines I already knew what the rest of the email was: a pass. And yes it got increasingly harder to shrug it off the more I received, and yes I began questioning myself. Was I not ready? Am I not good enough after all? Should I just give up? No, no, and no. You MUST believe in yourself. You MUST keep trying. If you put in the work, believe in your writing, and create the best project you can then somewhere down the line your time will come.

Don’t compare yourself to other aspiring writers. Don’t hate them for their success. You might hear of another writer getting a request, an offer, or even a publishing deal. It will probably sting a little. You might wonder why them and not you? Maybe they haven’t been at it as long as you have. Maybe you think your writing is better. Seeing another writer’s dreams come true while yours are still unrealized can make you question your self-worth. Don’t do that. Be happy for that writer. You know how hard this is. We’re in this together. Their success does not in any way make you a failure.

I won’t tell you to have patience. I know that’s impossible. But don’t obsess. I know how nerve-racking it is to check your email and wonder if today might be the day there’s good news waiting in your inbox. I know how one week can feel like one month and one month can feel like half a year. But you can’t stop living in the meantime. You can’t stop writing. You can’t focus solely on what may or may not happen when you could be focusing on making things happen. Start a new manuscript. Become a critique partner or beta reader to give back to others. Write some short stories. Don’t stop creating.

The query process is full of ups and downs. It can raise you up or tear you down if you let it. It requires you to strike a balance between remaining realistic and holding onto hope. I know it’s hard to put yourself out there and put your dream in the hands of someone else. I know it’s equally exciting and crushing. But it’s necessary if this is the route you want to go with your work. And it is worth it. I’ve been doing this a year, and I’m not ready to give in yet.

I remain hopeful.

I believe.

What are your experiences with query letters and requests? How do you handle the ups and downs? Reply below!

Advertisements

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Thank you! Yes, you!

I just wanted to write a quick thank you post to all of you and let you know I’m appreciative. I know this blog is still small, and 50 followers may not seem like much, but it is to me. It is way more than I thought I’d have when I started this thing back in October. I figured I’d be posting for only a handful of people, and that my followers would most likely just be my mom and husband or something.  So thank you for following me, reading what I have to say, liking, commenting, and reblogging. It’s really such an awesome thing. I know you don’t have to take the time to read my posts or follow up with comments so thanks for giving me your time. I will always comment back. I’ve also enjoyed following many of you in return and discovering some wonderful posts and people to connect with.

I started this blog because I knew my school English course was going to be on New Media & Publishing and building a writer’s platform, but I also really wanted to start meeting people in this crazy writing world. I live in a small town where you either become a nurse or a coal miner so saying you want to be an author isn’t exactly looked highly upon. It’s often followed up with comments telling me I should become a teacher so I have a real job to fall back on.

It’s been wonderful sharing my excitement for writing and reading with other aspiring writers and passionate readers. I know I’m still finding my way; my posting could be more consistent, and I could do a better job networking with all of you. But honestly this new media stuff is new to me, and I’m still learning it. I hope that in between going to school and writing new projects that I will start doing a better job with this blog and actually using my Twitter more. Eventually I might make one of those nifty “author” Facebook pages too.

Again, thank you for sticking with me. I’ll take this chance to ask you guys if there are any certain things you would like me to post about in the future. Did I touch on a subject you wanted more information on? Do you want to know anything more personal? Should I post more original work? What would you like to see on this blog? What advice do you have for me? Reply in the comments if you have a suggestion. I will gladly carry out your requests and link back to you in the corresponding post. Thanks for your support and feedback these last couple of months!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Interview with an Author: Patrick Donovan

I met Patrick earlier this year through a writing project he orchestrated with students at our university. He organized a group of writers to contribute short stories for an anthology book. The writers were fellow students at SNHU, both graduate and undergraduate, and all profits made from the book upon its release will be given to charity. Shortly after getting involved with the project, Patrick’s book Demon Jack was published. Today, he took the time to answer a few questions and share writing his experiences.

DT: First, tell us about your book. What is it about?

PD: Demon Jack’s about a lot of things. I usually joke it’s about an asshole who beats things up, but there’s more to it than that. It’s the first in a series, the series itself focusing on this idea of redemption. Jack, the main character, has a lot of flaws. He’s selfish, he’s violent, but he’s on his way back to being something better. I think that as the series progresses we’ll really get to see him grow into that role of hero, where as he’s more anti-hero right now. The first book sort of focused on his problems catching up with him, on him realizing that he can’t keep going like he’s going. The rest of the books will explore him growing from that.

DT: You write Urban Fantasy. How would you define your genre? Is there anything that annoys you about how Urban Fantasy is perceived or described?

PD: I’d define my genre as Tolkien set in New York, essentially. I mean there’s more to it than that, it’s vampires, werewolves, fae, all of that fun mythological and folklorish stuff, dropped right into the middle of some kind of city and the dynamic that comes with that. As far as something that annoys me, my biggest pet peeve is that a lot of people expect Urban Fantasy to be all about some kick ass heroine and her cadre of supernatural boyfriends, which is fine, but that’s not Urban Fantasy, that’s Paranormal Romance because most stories like that, the romance aspect tends to take the center stage. In that same regard though, there’s nothing wrong with said kick ass heroine, or her vampire were dolphin boyfriend, but I wanna read more about the ass kicking than I do the love triangles.

DT: What’s a typical writing day look like for you? Do you have a set schedule or make personal goals to reach?

PD: I usually start either late night or early afternoon, and depending on what I have going on set a goal of 2000 words. Sometimes that works out pretty well and I hammer it out in an hour or two, sometimes it takes me all day. I try to take days off too, let the story simmer in my noodle for a while.

DT: How do you overcome writer’s block or getting stuck?

PD: I ascribe pretty firmly to something Jim Butcher said: “I don’t have writer’s block, I have a mortgage”. Granted, some days are better than others writing wise, and everything just clicks, but in my head writer’s block is just an excuse.

DT: Is there any advice you wish you’d been given when you were first starting out or that you would go back and tell yourself now that you’re published?

PD: Maybe not when I was first starting out, but I had a college professor who would attempt to beat into my head the importance of editing. At the time, I sort of wrote in a bubble. I thought it was good. My friends thought it was good. Even if I didn’t edit, they’d tell me it was awesome. Granted, it may have been good, but it wasn’t publishable by any stretch of the imagination.

DT: Can you tell us about the publishing process and how your publishing deal eventually came about?

PD: The process itself was pretty rough. I have about 50 or so rejections that I saved. I started out querying agents, which I wish I hadn’t done now, just because I realize how fickle and subjective they can be. It’s pretty rough just getting form letter after form letter from folks saying you’re not good enough. Granted, once you do get that letter of interest saying you are good enough, that changes the game. After I got tired of the form letters, I went looking at small presses and found my current publisher Fable Press. They made me a deal and it’s been rolling since then.

DT: When did you officially decide writing was what you wanted to do?  

PD: When I was a wee lad and read my first Stephen King novel. I knew right then and there, that that was the road I was gonna go down. It only took me around….25 years to get here, and it’s still an uphill fight, but I’m getting there.

DT: Why do you write? What pushes you through this long, stressful process time and again?

PD: Honestly, it’s because there needs to be a little more magic in the world. If I can create that, even in a story, then I think I’m doing something good. Even if it only reaches one person, and my stories make that one person’s day better, then I’ve achieved what I set out to accomplish.

DT: Anything you’d like to add?

PD: Han shot first.

*Lightning Round!*

DT: What is your writing soundtrack?

PD: It really varies. Lately I’ve been listening to authors give convention talks. I think it’s because I can just tune out into background noise. Outside of that, I listen to a lot of classical or instrumental, Lindsey Stirling being one I’m really digging lately, her and Apocalyptica. Eminem’s new CD, Yelawolf too. A lot of 80’s and 90’s stuff. Motley Crue, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Type O Negative.

DT: What do you do for a “break” from writing?

PD: I’m a pipe smoker, so if I take a break it’s usually for a pipe (tobacco only people!) and coffee. I think it makes me feel all author like.

DT: If you could be any literary character or visit another written world, who would you be and where would you go?

PD: I’m gonna cheat a little here, because TV shows and movies are written before they are made, so they count. I’d either be The Doctor or Han Solo, one of the two.

DT: Can you name some book recommendations?

PD: The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne, Anything by Neil Gaiman. Stephen King of course.

There you go! I want to thank Patrick for taking the time to answer these questions and share with us. Are there any follow-up questions you would like asked? Post below! And if you read Patrick’s book be sure to give him a review or shoot him a fan letter!

You can follow him on his author Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pdonovanauthor and subscribe to his blog at www.pdonovanauthor.wordpress.com

Demon Jack is currently on sale for Kindle devices over at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Jack-ebook/dp/B00EYG2YIM

More information about Patrick and Demon Jack can be found on the publisher’s site at

http://www.fablepress.com/

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Should These Pitches be Ditched?

In my current English course, New Media and Publishing, we are studying writer platforms and how to sell yourself. This week is about creating “elevator pitches.”  We were told to describe our material in 3 to 4 sentences as if we only have 30 seconds in an elevator to make an impression on a publisher. I’ve dabbled in this before, but it’s not a precise process. I’m trying to strike a balance between giving away enough meat and detail of the story while still remaining mysterious/enticing without being too vague.  So here are my pitches for my three novels. Maybe they work, or maybe they need work. But that’s what learning is for. Feel free to let me know your reactions in the comments.

Book 1 Pitch

Seventeen-year-old Patrick Walker is good at keeping his secret and even better at hating his father. He covers the fact that his father physically abuses him, afraid of being sent to foster care if the police knew the truth or what his father would really do to him if people discovered their happy relationship was all fake. Patrick won’t accept help and deals with the pain in dangerous ways, including drinking and fighting at school and getting in trouble with a violent gang leader who knows just how to get in Patrick’s head. His real struggle isn’t in knowing how to take a beating, but realizing when to ask for help and standing up against the man who should have loved him most.

Book 2 Pitch

Maddie Carlisle, a high school senior and member of the in-crowd elite, is forced to confront the consequences of her decisions and the reality of her life when outspoken, eighteen-year-old Cameron Dawson moves in next door, covered in bruises and carrying more secrets than luggage. Maddie knows who to be and how to act to please everyone, secretly loathing her perfect popular lifestyle. When she meets Cameron they form an unlikely (and forbidden) bond that is tested as she struggles between pleasing the people that control her life and staying true to her own heart. The more he opens up, the clearer it becomes that Cameron is struggling with his own demons, and Maddie is the only one who can help him face them.

Book 3 Pitch

High school Junior, Ezra Winchester, is drugged, kidnapped, and taken to a remote location where he’s held by a trio of brutal and greedy strangers that ransom him for the millions of dollars he’s worth.  He quickly realizes rescue isn’t coming and is forced into a battle for survival where both his mental and physical strength is tested. After months of beatings and emotional traumas, Ezra discovers there is more at play than he first realized, and those secrets could push him past a point he can’t come back from. But to him justice might just be more important than making it out alive.

So did I earn an A on this assignment or did I fail? Would you want to read more based on these pitches or would you politely pass? What are your honest opinions?

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized