Tag Archives: agents

Adventures in Query-Land

Hi, there, Scribe fans. Suze here. By now you’ve probably read Sugar’s post from a few days ago about the process she went through over the last year, ultimately culminating in her getting a fab agent and an even fabber three-book deal. (Click here to read it). Since I’m in the same spot she was a year ago, querying and hoping to land an agent and sell my manuscript, I thought I’d give you a run-down on how things are working for me.

Despite the fact that I completed this manuscript a couple of years ago, I was never satisfied with the opening chapters and so I only submitted it a couple of places, and was summarily rejected. After rewriting Chapter One about eight times and tightening up my timeline this past summer, I finally had it where I thought it was marketable. I wrote a query letter and a synopsis, fixed them both with the help of colleagues/friends, and finally began the query process in earnest in September. As one of my favorite rerun detectives, Adrian Monk, might say, here’s what happened.

September – Queried seven agents/editors (two of these were requests from a conference). Two requests for partials.

October – Queried three agents. Two requests for fulls. Two form rejections. One rejection on a partial, but a very nice one (bummer! She liked it overall, loved aspects of it, but she just didn’t love it enough).

November – Queried four agents. Felt like I needed to get some energy moving on stagnant requests, so embarked on closet-cleaning and clutter-clearing in an effort to feng shui my writing career. Unfortunately, this did not have the desired results: Received one rejection on a full because she wasn’t representing my genre, but suggested I submit to another agent in the office. Then received one rejection on a partial because she wasn’t representing my genre, but she “loved my voice” and would be interested in a YA or contemporary if I ever wrote one of those. 

December – Queried three digital-first presses. One rejection on a full, but she did have nice things to say. Depressed! I really wanted that one.  One form rejection. Two requests for fulls.

So the three-month tally is:

  • 17 submissions
  • 7 rejections (none of them mean!)
  • 2 partials still out there (not counting the partials that were sent pursuant to agents’ submission guidelines)
  • 2 fulls still out there
  • 6 queries that have not been acted on one way or another

Kathryn Stockett’s The Help was reportedly rejected 60 times. Harry Potter was rejected by 12 publishing houses. I’m not in the depths of despair yet!

Where are you in your writing journey? Where do you want to be?

An Apple A Day

Happy Thursday, loves. Suze here. Guess what? This is our 500th post! Who knew we all had so much to say? Thanks for joining us here today, loyal Scribelings.

I’ve begun submitting my manuscript in earnest to agents/editors, and I’ve had several nibbles. Everybody seems to want something different in terms of formatting, length of submission, length of synopsis, etc., so I’ve been working hard to do everyone’s bidding, LOL!

So, like a good synopsis (something that still eludes me, but it’s far better than it was thanks to the assistance of some awesome friends/colleagues), today’s post will be short and sweet. How about a recipe?

Image courtesy of Petr Kratochvil http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=3421&picture=apples-and-pears
It’s fall here in New England, and that means it’s apple season, but you can enjoy this all year round. Here’s my recipe for super easy homemade applesauce:

SUZE’S APPLESAUCE

*6 flavorful apples, peeled, cored, roughly chopped, and placed in a saucepan (Empire, Cortland, Pink Lady, Granny Smith, and Macouns are my favorites, but MacIntoshes will do in a pinch. No Red Delicious, please! The flavor is too bland and the texture is too mealy to work in this recipe). Add the following to the pot:

*1/2 cup of apple cider, apple or orange juice, or plain water

*1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

*a few grates of freshly ground nutmeg (or a pinch of the kind out of a jar — don’t overdo this spice. It’s powerful)

*1/2 cup packed brown sugar (dark or light doesn’t matter)

Bring to a quick boil, then give everything a stir to make sure it isn’t sticking/burning (add more liquid if necessary). Continue to cook until apples are soft, about 20-25 minutes.

For a smooth-textured applesauce, allow the mixture to cool a bit, then whizz it up in a food processor (don’t overprocess, or you’ll end up with baby food). For a chunkier texture, which is how my family likes it, use a potato masher right in the pan until you get the consistency you like. Taste to see if you need to mix in a bit more brown sugar — apples have different degrees of tartness.

Serve warm or at room temperature with pork chops or pork tenderloin, chicken, or pierogies, or as a topping for vanilla ice cream.

**Note: You can also make this with pears! Just use a ripe, juicy, flavorful pear like a Bartlett or Anjou. The recipe is exactly the same.

Now for you. What’s your favorite fall meal? I could use some menu planning suggestions right about now!

 

Pitch Perfect

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here.

On May 12, 2012, CTRWA (Connecticut Romance Writers) will host their annual Fiction Fest event (for those of you in the area - there’s still time to join us). After much dithering on my part, I decided I would pitch again. This is mostly so my skills won’t get rusty and to motivate me to stay on top of my writing goals for the year.

Here are my tips for pitching to an agent or editor. Full disclosure – this is what has worked for me. Give them a try. It’s better than pulling out your hair or giving yourself an ulcer.

1. I know this is obvious – plan out what you are going to say. I don’t memorize my pitch. Last year I read from my query letters. This doesn’t mean I stared at the paper and barely made eye contact. The trick is to know what is on the paper and loosely follow it along. The editors I pitched to didn’t mind at all (I pitched 4 times and got full/partial requests from every editor).

2. Practice what you are saying. I know I just told you not to memorize a speech. But reading always works better if the words are familiar in your mouth. Say them aloud so you sound convincing when you speak. This is to build your confidence in what you are saying and it will make the pitch easier when the time comes. I have heard repeatedly from A/E’s that they don’t like it anymore than you do if you approach them as a blathering ball of nerves.

3. Do not ramble – see #1. (Please, please, please, do not pepper your pitch with “umms” and “I knows”). Last year, I used my query letter format because a query contains important information like word count, genre and the premise of the novel.

4. Listen to editor or agents questions, then pause before answering. Think, then speak. If you don’t understand the question, ask for clarification.

5. Slow it down and take your time when speaking. When you’re nervous or stressed, it’s natural to speed up your speech so make an effort to slow down.

6. Ask questions. This means you should research, ahead of time, the agency or publisher before you sit down in front of them. Do not waste their time pitching a genre or story they are not interested in.

7. If they make a request (congratulations), write down what they want. Repeat back what they have asked for. Better to be clear now, them send the wrong information later.

8. Smile. Relax. They put their pants on one leg at a time like the rest of us. They want to find the next great story as much as you want to sell it to them.

9.Thank them for their time. Again, obvious, but you’ll probably be elated/nervous and it’s easy to forget. And please, practice a firm handshake. No wet noodle, limp hands.

One final note, because this bears repeating. Jamie did an awesome post about appropriate dress for pitching. Please read it.

At all the conferences I’ve pitched at, the agents and editors have all dressed professionally. So I say take your cue from them. Publishing is a billion dollar industry. Show them you are serious and dress accordingly.

Many times when I write, I am in my pajamas or sweatpants. I would never go to an outside business meeting dressed that way. Or a job interview. I work from home full time, yet I do have an outfit or two I can wear to the office (or funerals or writer’s conferences). Invest in your image. Even if you are indie published, I hope you wouldn’t go to a book signing dressed in pajamas. Respect your industry. Just saying.

Okay. Had to get that off my chest. I’ll stop beating the dead horse now.

Remember – Believe in your book. Believe in yourself. Because if you don’t, no one else will either. Good luck. You can do it.

Who wants to share pitching stories? Successes? Disasters? What words of wisdom can you share for anyone apprehensive about doing it?