Weekend Writing Warriors – 7/13/14

wewriwa_square_2Welcome to Snippet Sunday and Weekend Writing Warriors! For those new to this, fellow writers post eight sentences from one of our works. I’m at the beach for a family reunion, so my comments may be spotty.

I’m spotlighting my upcoming release, MUST LOVE BREECHES, until its release in September. Some of you veterans from Six Sentence Sunday will remember this story, though the opening has changed a lot. Please note, that it is currently with the copyeditor, so this is an unedited version. Picking up where I left off last weekend:

“I have no bloody idea.” Jocelyn squeezed the poof of fabric at her shoulder. “These huge-ass sleeves are ridiculous.”

“Ah, screw it, we’re having fun, right? I’m not going to self-sabotage the ball, not after all the time I spent obsessing over my costume.”

“And obsessing over the etiquette rules.”

“That too.” Besides, how fun was it to learn Jocelyn shared her obsession with guys in period clothes and bodice-ripper romances?

About MUST LOVE BREECHES

AngelaQuarles_MustLoveBreeches_200px“A fresh, charming new voice” – New York Times bestselling author Tessa Dare

HOW FAR WOULD YOU TRAVEL FOR LOVE?

Isabelle Rochon, a thoroughly modern American working at the British Museum, has finally met the man of her dreams. There’s one problem: he lives in another century.

When a mysterious artifact zaps Isabelle to pre-Victorian London, a thief steals it, stranding her in a place where nobody’s heard of toilet paper or women’s lib. Now she must find the artifact, navigate the pitfalls of a stiffly polite London, keep her origins a secret, and, oh, resist her growing attraction to Lord Montagu, the Vicious Viscount so hot, he curls her toes. But when he asks her to pose as his fiancée for his scheme of revenge, his now constant presence overthrows her equilibrium and kicks in her old insecurities. Why does he have to be so damn hunky, compelling and, well, Drool-Worthy? This is not what she needs. She’d carved off part of herself for another man before and is determined never to make that same mistake again. Staying would be the ultimate follow-the-boyfriend move. In the end, she must decide when her true home lies.

Available for pre-order:

btn_are_48btn_kobo_48btn_ibooks_48

btn_google_48

 

 

Or add to Goodreads

Help fund the editing costs

I’m currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise $350 to pay for professional copy editing. The funding levels start at $5, and if you back it at that level, you get a copy one week early!

Join my new street team

I’m forming a street team to help create buzz on my release, so if you’d like to join, contact me and I’ll add you to my super secret facebook group :)

To join in the fun and see the other wonderful writers, go to Weekend Writing Warriors! Thanks for stopping by!

Weekend Writing Warriors – 7/6/14

wewriwa_square_2Welcome to Snippet Sunday and Weekend Writing Warriors! For those new to this, fellow writers post eight sentences from one of our works.

I’m going to switch gears and spotlight my upcoming release, MUST LOVE BREECHES, until its release in September. Some of you veterans from Six Sentence Sunday will remember this story, though the opening has changed a lot. Please note, that it is currently with the copyeditor, so this is an unedited version:

A reenactment ball was the perfect setting for romance. Or not.

Isabelle Rochon fidgeted in her oddly shaped, but oh-so-accurate, ball gown, surrounded by women who’d sacrificed historical authenticity for sex appeal. Red carpet ball gowns in the nineteenth century, really? Once again she was the dorky kid participating in dress-up day at school when everyone else had magically decided it was lame.

“Gah, I feel like a green robot with strange battle armor.” Isabelle pointed to her dark green dress, the shoulders flaring out almost to a point, exaggerating their width. “What were the fashionistas in 1834 thinking?”

About MUST LOVE BREECHES

AngelaQuarles_MustLoveBreeches_200px“A fresh, charming new voice” – New York Times bestselling author Tessa Dare

HOW FAR WOULD YOU TRAVEL FOR LOVE?

Isabelle Rochon, a thoroughly modern American working at the British Museum, has finally met the man of her dreams. There’s one problem: he lives in another century.

When a mysterious artifact zaps Isabelle to pre-Victorian London, a thief steals it, stranding her in a place where nobody’s heard of toilet paper or women’s lib. Now she must find the artifact, navigate the pitfalls of a stiffly polite London, keep her origins a secret, and, oh, resist her growing attraction to Lord Montagu, the Vicious Viscount so hot, he curls her toes. But when he asks her to pose as his fiancée for his scheme of revenge, his now constant presence overthrows her equilibrium and kicks in her old insecurities. Why does he have to be so damn hunky, compelling and, well, Drool-Worthy? This is not what she needs. She’d carved off part of herself for another man before and is determined never to make that same mistake again. Staying would be the ultimate follow-the-boyfriend move. In the end, she must decide when her true home lies.

Available for pre-order:

btn_are_48btn_kobo_48btn_ibooks_48

btn_google_48

 

 

Or add to Goodreads

Help fund the editing costs

I’m currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise $350 to pay for professional copy editing. The funding levels start at $5, and if you back it at that level, you get a copy one week early!

Join my new street team

I’m forming a street team to help create buzz on my release, so if you’d like to join, contact me and I’ll add you to my super secret facebook group :)

To join in the fun and see the other wonderful writers, go to Weekend Writing Warriors! Thanks for stopping by!

Cover Reveal for MUST LOVE BREECHES

Angela Quarles:

Can I squee?! I’ve been sitting on this design since last Thursday, dying to show it off but was patient so I could wait until today to officially reveal it on Paranormal Unbound! The fabulous Kim Killion did the design! Thank you, Kim!

Originally posted on Paranormal Unbound:

AngelaQuarles_MustLoveBreeches_800pxIt’s Wednesday, which means we get to pimp our own books and since I just got this cover, I just HAD to do the reveal here!

Can I just squee?

Kim Killion, with HotDamnDesigns.com is the one I have to thank for reaching right into my brainage and pulling out what I think perfectly captures my book!

And what’s this book? Glad you asked!

It’s my first full-length novel, Must Love Breeches, and it’s a time travel romance. Here’s the blurb:

HOW FAR WOULD YOU TRAVEL FOR LOVE?

Isabelle Rochon, a thoroughly modern American working at the British Museum, has finally met the man of her dreams. There’s one problem: he lives in another century.

When a mysterious artifact zaps Isabelle to pre-Victorian London, a thief steals it, stranding her in a place where nobody’s heard of toilet paper or women’s lib. Now she must find the artifact, navigate…

View original 299 more words

Weekend Writing Warriors – 5/31/14

wewriwa_square_2Welcome to Snippet Sunday and Weekend Writing Warriors! For those new to this, fellow writers post eight sentences from one of our works. I’ve been revising my New Adult steampunk romance, STEAM ME UP RAWLEY, so I thought I’d share. Someone last week asked if the monkey (Loki) was still in the story, and indeed he is, so I thought I’d share some trouble he got up to at the end of the first scene (he normally sits on her shoulder):

“The punch,” someone cried nearby.
Adele spun around, the lack of weight on her shoulder filling her with unease.
Loki sat in the crystal punchbowl, splashing the too-pink liquid in his face and scattering large dollops on the starched white linen tablecloth. From across the expansive lawn, Claire screeched.
That screech punched through Adele’s belly, hollowing it out. Criminy. The party seemed populated now with just eyes, judging, condescending, see-what-a-joke-you-are eyes, all pointed at her.
And that screech felt as if it arrowed straight to her boss across town.

I welcome all comments, even constructive crits. I also found out this past week that this story was a finalist in the paranormal category in Virginia’s Fool For Love contest.

This week my aunt and cousin, who form the writing duo Ursula LeCoeur, are participating in WeWriWa! Please stop by to give them a newcomers’ welcome!

To join in the fun and see the other wonderful writers, go to Weekend Writing Warriors! Thanks for stopping by!

Weekend Writing Warriors – 5/24/14

wewriwa_square_2Welcome to Snippet Sunday and Weekend Writing Warriors! Happy Memorial Day! For those new to this, fellow writers post eight sentences from one of our works. I’ve been revising my New Adult steampunk romance, STEAM ME UP RAWLEY, so I thought I’d share. This is the first scene in the hero’s POV and he’s just landed in the backyard of the heroine’s home in a hot air balloon. She’s standing in front of him and it picks up a little after where I left off last time:

With the tropical sun bearing down and over-saturating all the colors, everything was utterly alien. Like the landscape was rubbed raw, exposed, and he stood there, exposed with it, almost embarrassed on its behalf. He couldn’t help but contrast it to the comforting textures, colors and smells of the stone-bordered fields of his home in Devonshire. The air here was so thick with humidity, he could taste the green of the leaves, the reds of the blooms. And most of all, his gaze returning to the lady before him, he could taste the brightness, the energy, of her, like all her curves and the froths and swoops of her pale green dress were a confection.

Egad, the heat must be getting to him. He was positively gushing poetic folderol. This wasn’t him. Not him at all.

I welcome all comments, even constructive crits. To join in the fun and see the other wonderful writers, go to Weekend Writing Warriors! Thanks for stopping by!

Trailer Reveal: Sophie Jordan’s Tease

jordan_teaseToday, I’m pleased to be one of the hosts for the trailer reveal of my agent-sister Sophie Jordan’s upcoming New Adult release, Tease!

TEASE by Sophie Jordan
Book 2 of The Ivy Chronicles
On-sale 5/27/2014
ISBN: 9780062279897 | e-ISBN: 9780062279903

A born flirt and good-time party girl, Emerson has never had a problem finding a willing guy. She’s always chosen her hook-ups carefully, and she’s never broken her three cardinal rules:

  • Never let them see the real you.
  • Never fall in love.
  • Always leave them begging for more.

Then comes Shaw. A hottie from the wrong side of the tracks, he’s immune to her flirtatious banter and come-hither smile. After rescuing her from a disastrous night at a biker bar, he doesn’t even try to take her to bed-he calls her a tease and sends her home instead. Unable to resist a challenge, or forget the sexy dark-eyed bad-boy biker, she vows to bring him to his knees.

But instead of making Shaw beg, she finds herself craving him. For the first time in her life, she’s throwing out her rulebook. Suddenly, she’s the one panting for a guy she can’t control. A guy who won’t settle for anything less than the real Emerson, who forces her to do things she’s never imagined, including facing a past she thought she’d buried.

A guy who just might leave her wanting more . . .


Sophie Jordan is an international and New York Times bestselling author whose books include historical romances and the Firelight series. When she’s not writing, she spends her time overloading on caffeine (lattes preferred), talking plotlines with anyone who will listen (including her kids), and cramming her DVR with true-crime and reality-television shows. She lives in Houston.

Weekend Writing Warriors – 5/11/14

www_bannerWelcome to Snippet Sunday and Weekend Writing Warriors! Happy Mother’s Day to those moms visiting! For those new to this, fellow writers post eight sentences from one of our works. I’ve been revising my New Adult steampunk romance, STEAM ME UP RAWLEY, so I thought I’d share. This is the first scene in the hero’s POV and he’s just landed in the backyard of the heroine’s home in a hot air balloon. She’s standing in front of him and he’s just finished an inner monologue of three sentences basically saying his goal had been to get bathed and settled:

Especially before he met the daughter of the house.

Now his feet wouldn’t move.

And he had the strangest sensation as he stared at the vision before him—part of him still felt like he was in the air, his whole body vibrating from the engine, but another part felt completely and irrevocably and inexplicably fixed in position as if his feet had always been planted there before her.

His heart, already galloping from the touch-and-go flight, stilled as if taking a deep breath, and then sped up again as if it had run the whole way from Plymouth, England.

At first all he’d seen was hair—dark and curly and wild—though disguised in a fetching and demure pile on her head. It gave all the appearance of barely constrained energy, as if all he need do was pop the hat off her head for it to come alive in his hands.

But it was her eyes that had him imitating a tree trunk, vibrating in place. Cinnamon-colored and flecked with gold, they sparked with intelligence and humor.

I welcome all comments, even constructive crits. To join in the fun and see the other wonderful writers, go to Weekend Writing Warriors! Thanks for stopping by!

I’ll be hanging out Friday and Saturday for the RT Book Convention, though not officially. Let me know if you’ll be there too!

A MS Word Macro to Spot Simultaneity Issues in your WIP

macro

Jami Gold recently had two articles on using Macros to help in your editing and polishing phase of your manuscript: MS Word Trick: Using Macros to Edit and Polish and Fix Showing vs. Telling with Macros & Word Lists.

Jami does an excellent job of showing you how to insert and use macros, so I won’t repeat that here. The first link also gives a ton of different macros you can use. Come back here after you’ve read those two, and I’ll share with you another one: SimultaneityCheck.

Why check for Simultaneity Issues?

There are two helpful flags to look for in your WIP that could spell trouble: phrases employing -ing verbs and ‘as’ constructions.

Why can these flag trouble? Because in certain cases, they can mean that the actions are happening at the same time. I say certain cases, because ‘as’ is also used to introduce metaphors, and clearly that’s not implying two events are happening at the same time. Also, there are instances where a word ending in -ing is not kicking off a dependent clause.

But what do I mean?

Examples with ‘as':

As Frank opened the fridge, the leftovers fell onto his feet

Frank opened the door for Sally as she walked up

These don’t happen at the same exact time. In the first instance, he opens the fridge and then the leftovers fall out. So it’s better to write it that way:

Frank opened the fridge and the leftovers spilled onto his feet.

‘As’ constructions can also be a flag that you have your stimulus and response reversed, like in the second instance. Those two actions aren’t happening at that exact same instant. In fact, Sally walking up is the stimulus for Frank opening the door. So this would be clearer written this way:

Sally walked up, hips swaying. Frank grinned and opened the door.

Not the most exciting prose, but you get the idea. While I’m analyzing my ‘as’ constructions, I also check to make sure I don’t have my response before my stimulus.

For more explanation on catching these and similar types of phrases, see Janice Hardy’s post: Don’t Tell Me Why: Words That Often Tell, Not Show

Examples with ‘-ing':

Walking down the sidewalk, Sally winked at Frank as she passed him

I also threw in an ‘as’ construction just to show how easy it is to fall back on these types of constructions. Here, the first clause is a participial phrase, and she can’t be doing the winking and passing of Frank the whole time she’s walking down the sidewalk.

There can be other issues to check for with -ing constructions that comprise a participial phrase, like misplaced modifiers, and using these in action scenes. Generally, these types of phrases suit more quiet, contemplative scenes. When action hits, use simple past tense verbs.

The example could be revised to show like this:

Sally sauntered down the sidewalk, her new silk skirt making her feel like the cutest knees of any bee’s knees. Oh, there’s Frank, the sly dog, looking all sexy leaning against the picnic table. She winked.

Again, the prose I was just having fun with and the metaphor probably doesn’t even make sense, but hey, I need to get this blog posted. You get the idea ;) This draws the reader in more and shows the actions in order.

When I analyze my -ing constructions, I also check to make sure:

  • It’s not a misplaced modifier
  • That I’m not telling instead of showing
  • That I’m not in an action scene
  • That there’s a comma after the participial phrase

For more information and explanation of why this could be a flag that you’re telling and not showing, see #3 at this post by Shirley Jump: Show Not Tell: What the Heck is that Anyway?

So, searching for these can be tedious, and since they’re both flags for the same thing, I combined them into a macro!

The SimultaneityCheck Macro:

Sub SimultaneityCheck()
'
' SimultaneityCheck Macro
'
' Highlights words that might indicate simultaneous actions that aren't possible,
' or that stimulus and response are out of order
' "&chr(10)&"Written by Angela Quarles @angelaquarles
'
 
 Options.DefaultHighlightColorIndex = wdYellow
 Selection.Find.ClearFormatting
 Selection.Find.Replacement.ClearFormatting
 Selection.Find.Replacement.Highlight = True
 
 'Finding as constructions

 With Selection.Find
 .Text = "as"
 .Replacement.Text = "as"
 .Forward = True
 .Wrap = wdFindContinue
 .Format = True
 .MatchCase = False
 .MatchWholeWord = True
 .MatchWildcards = False
 .MatchSoundsLike = False
 .MatchAllWordForms = False
 End With
 Selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
 
 'Finding words that end in -ing
 
 With ActiveDocument.range.Find
 .Text = "<[! ][! ]@ing>"
 .Replacement.Highlight = True
 .Replacement.Text = "^&"
 .Forward = True
 .Wrap = wdFindStop
 .Format = True
 .MatchWildcards = True
 .Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
 End With
 
' This will unhighlight certain -ing words

 Dim range As range
 Dim i As Long
 Dim TargetList

 ' list of terms to unhighlight. There's probably a more elegant way to exclude them within the code that highlights, but this works too
 ' be careful of adding a noun like 'meeting' or 'being' (as in human being) which also acts as a verb
 TargetList = Array("something", "nothing", "everything", "anything", "morning", "evening", "ding", "king", "ping", "sing", "wing", "zing", "bing", "thing", "things", "happening", "bring", "sting", "ring", "starling", "seedling", "swing", "annoying", "breeding", "exciting", "stimulating", "interesting", "unflinching", "appalling")

 For i = 0 To UBound(TargetList)

 Set range = ActiveDocument.range

 With range.Find
 .Text = TargetList(i)
 .Format = True
 .MatchCase = False
 .MatchWholeWord = True
 .MatchWildcards = False
 .MatchSoundsLike = False
 .MatchAllWordForms = False

Do While .Execute(Forward:=True) = True
 range.HighlightColorIndex = wdNoHighlight
 Loop

 End With
 Next
End Sub

Revisit Jami’s post to learn how to add a macro to Word and add this one to your arsenal and soon you’ll be fixing those problem areas!

Do you use macros to help with editing and polishing? What do you like to use them for? New to macros and have questions? Ask and I’ll see if I can answer.

Ack! Queries! Part 3 – Query Submission Strategies

queriespart3

Last week we covered Part 2 – Elements of a Successful Query, and the week before Part 1 – Purpose and When to Start. For today, we’ll cover: Query Submission Strategies.

Query Submission Strategies

My advice would be to send queries in blocks of 5 agents at a time; 7-8 at the most.

Why? You want to be able to adjust strategy by response.

To better illustrate my case, here’s how my query process played out back in 2012:

  • On my first round, I submitted to 15 agents (actually 18, but the other 3 were live pitches) and I had 3 requests, which was a 20% success rate, which is pretty good. When those 3, and the 3 pitch agents rejected it, I knew not to continue querying, though I DID know my query worked. I did another Beta round and polished, polished, polished my manuscript.
  • Second and successful round, blow-by-blow:
    • Day 2: 8 queried, 2 requests
    • Day 9: 42 queried, 3 requests, 7 query rejections, 2 MS rejections, and 1 partial converted to a full
    • Day 10: 3 more queried, 1 request, and first offer! (ended with 3)
    • Summary up to First Offer: 53 queried, 6 requests, 7 query rejections=46% success rate

So as you can see, there was a different energy to my second round. I could feel it, that my query was working big time and I was getting requests a lot faster. By this point I was also sick of the MS and so mentally I felt like this was it, if it didn’t work, I was moving onto my next book and would try again, that I’d done everything I knew at that point to make my MS as strong as it could be. Hence, when I saw my query getting a hotter response, I opened the floodgates and queried the rest of my list.

I’m also glad I came late to writing, as I was able to do all of this electronically, with no costs for postage and paper, etc. Can you imagine how expensive it was in the past? Hopefully even more agents accept electronic queries than in 2012, because at that time some good ones still only accepted by snail mail.

Once you have an offer

First, yay!!! After the squeeing has died down, you still have some work to do.

If it’s from your dream agent and you absolutely, positively know you don’t want another agent, you need to send out letters to all the ones you queried and who also have your partials and fulls to let them know you had an offer and are accepting it.  Here’s how I worded it:

Thank you for your interest! Unfortunately I’m going to pull this from consideration as I’ve already had two offers of representation and a third who wants to talk on Monday. With that in mind, I don’t want to ask you to take time to read it as I know you are extremely busy.
Thank you,

If you don’t have a dream agent, but rather a Top 3 or Top 5 list, then you need to go about it a little differently. Send out the emails to the ones you know you wouldn’t want over the one who offered. But for the rest, send them an email to let them know you have an offer (even the ones you’ve only queried but haven’t heard a response from yet) and that you’ve given the first agent a deadline for when you’ll get back to them (typically two weeks) so that the other agents have time to read your MS and respond. This is what happened to me, and it’s why I ended up with three offers, a great place to be!

Here’s how I worded that email. The first offering agent was putting the screws to me and was a little miffed I wanted time to decide and so I had a shorter window, but it’s absolutely all right to ask for two weeks, I just panicked is all :)

I wanted to let you that an agent has made offer of representation for MUST LOVE BREECHES. The offering agent wants my decision by the middle of next week so she can pitch to editors in October, but I also want to give you a chance to read the partial I sent and see if you’re still interested.

Thanks so much, and I look forward to hearing from you,

Resources

To close out this series, here are some resources to help you!

Pre-query
Query Process
  • QueryTracker - an extremely helpful database of agents and editors that will help you keep track of who you submit to, their response, your response, etc. It’s the only reason I was even able to pull the statistics above, because I had it all in there. There’s also a forum where you
  • Publisher’s Marketplace – not free, but worth the cost during this phase at it shows you which agents are selling and which aren’t, what’s selling genre-wise, etc. It’s a great way to get your finger on the pulse, to use a cliché.

What about you? Are you querying yet? What strategies would you add? What trouble are you having with your query or the process?

Ack! Queries! Part 2 – Elements of a Successful Query

queries_pt2

Last week we covered Part 1 – Purpose and When to Start. For today, we’ll cover: Elements of a Successful Query

External Elements

External factors to keep in mind include querying an agent who represents your genre. Seriously. Please. Don’t machine-gun blast agents hoping one will hit. Show you’re a professional and have done your research and aren’t wasting their time. Yes, this takes more time, but the payoff is better.

Also, make sure you’ve read their submission guidelines. I know some writers suggest always appending the first 5 pages, but I didn’t do that. I sent exactly what the agent specified on their website and no more. I liked knowing it was my query they were rejecting (so I could polish it before my next round) and not my first 5 pages.

If you do these two, you’re already doing better than a majority of other writers querying right now. So take a deep breath and internalize that. Now we just need to up your chances even more by focusing on the query itself

Internal Elements

The time you take to craft your query shows the agent you take your writing seriously. Here are some elements you need in the query itself to give you an advantage:

  • Title (in CAPS), genre, word count somewhere
  • Personalized to the agent, if possible, but don’t fake it.
  • List two comps (and pick these well)
  • Short bio. Short. And only keep it relevant to how it affects this book.
  • Thank them
  • Query tone matches the tone of your novel
  • Only concentrate on the first quarter of your novel (up to your Act One Turning Point)
  • Use paragraphs and white space effectively

In addition to these are the two ‘meats’ of the query: hook and story paragraph

What is a Hook?

A hook is one sentence, but no more than 40 words or so, that quickly conveys what your novel is about and makes an agent want to read more. It:

  • Answers the question: What is your book about?
  • Mimics tone of novel
  • Weaves in the protagonist
  • Bonus points if you can infuse it with irony.

Here was mine: Isabelle Rochon, a thoroughly modern American working at the British Museum, has finally met the man of her dreams. There’s one problem: he lives in another century

What is the Story Paragraph?

The Story Paragraph in your query should be only 250-300 words. And it contains:

  • Setup
    • Protagonist, slip in age (if writing YA/NA) or occupation if you can
    • Setting/Story World (essential if sci-fi/fantasy)
    • Catalyst (Inciting Incident) that leads to the conflict
    • What do they want? What’s their quest/goal? Sometimes this is a vague want/wish that then gets sharpened to a specific goal when the conflict comes onto the scene.
  • Conflict (what/who stands in their way)
    • Not all conflicts. What’s the central conflict? A lot of times this is introduced by “but when…”
    • Who stands in the way of their goal/quest?
    • This becomes the Story Question in your novel that propels the reader into Act Two—Will s/he overcome [obstacle] and get/find [goal]? This drives all your scenes in Act Two up until the Climax/Resolution, which then answers the question, i.e. “Yes” “Yes, but”, “No” etc. But all this doesn’t go in your query, I’m just explaining what I mean by Story Question. By correctly stating your main conflict, this Story Question will automatically form in the agent’s/editor’s head when they read the conflict. That’s what you want to have happen, you want this Story Question to form–boom!–right into their heads. But don’t actually state it, let it form mentally.
  • Consequences
    • What’s at Stake? (what happens if they don’t succeed?) “Now she must ___ or ___”
    • You know you’ve got this nailed if you can pair it with your hook and it makes sense. For example, here was my Consequences statement: In the end, she must decide when her true home lies. So Hook + Consequences read like this:Isabelle Rochon, a thoroughly modern American working at the British Museum, has finally met the man of her dreams. There’s one problem: he lives in another century. In the end, she must decide when her true home lies.

      I actually had a little more before my consequences that said what was at stake, but I summed it up with this final ‘hook’

Don’t

  • Address the query to Dear Sir/Madam, or Dear Agent
  • Talk more about yourself than your book
  • Tell the agent they’d be stupid not to represent you
  • Misspell words (or the agent’s name!) or use poor grammar
  • Make your hook a rhetorical question. Why? The answer is obvious to the agent and takes the mystery out of it.
  • Send any email with an attachment unless asked
  • Give away the ending!
  • Talk about how much you’ve wanted to write or tell a cute story about your first story written in first grade. You’re querying, ergo you’re a writer. A trap some fall into if they feel their bio is skimpy.
  • Forget to tell them your title, genre and word count.

Now, Polish Your Query

Spend time doing the same polishing techniques as you would do with your novel.

  • Look for redundant words
  • Look for throwaway words
  • Look for vague/weasel words
  • See if you can use stronger verbs (but don’t get too writerly)
  • Tighten phrasing. Can you get away with one word there instead of two or three.
  • Check your spelling and grammar

Why? If they see stuff like this in your query, they’re going to assume it’s in your MS!

What does this mean for you?

If you do what I talked about above, you’re in the top 10% already. Boom! Nice, huh? Disclaimer: that percentage is not scientific but what I’ve seen bandied about by agents. 9 times out of 10 a query that lands in their inbox is an automatic rejection before they’ve even read the whole query. Mainly, queries get rejected when it’s not a genre they represent, they have no clue what the story’s about (because the writer didn’t tell them), it’s obvious the query was sent out in bulk, poor writing, etc.

It means if you’ve been panicking about seeing statistics from agencies regarding number of requests vs number of queries, keep the previous point in mind! They’re throwing out 90% of queries right off the top, which puts you in a much smaller pool of candidates. Now you just need to find the agent that is a potential match for your book and you. It also means your query letter doesn’t have to be perfect. Get those essentials across in a professional, well-written way, and if it sounds up their alley, they’ll request. Feel better now?

And that’s it for this week. Next week I’ll talk about query strategies.

What about you? Are you querying yet? Do you feel there are other elements that should be in a query?