Posts Tagged ‘Getting Published’


Kathleen wants to be in like Molly (cause she got the prom date)

January 22, 2010

Querying. I swear it’s like being back in high school. Prom is a month away and I still don’t have a date. When I finally screw up my courage and ask the guy who sits next to me in art class, he says he’s asked a girl who’s thinking about it—if she says no, maybe he’ll keep me in mind.


Forget getting on the field. I can’t even get on the bench with the rest of the backups.

Okay –it’s not that bad. I’ve had interest and nudges, winks and flirtatious smiles, but I’m still waiting for that elusive email or call. The one that says: I want to go with you. And, while I wait for that, I’ve increasingly been having flashbacks to the hell that was dating in high school.

Fortunately, there are ways to deal with the angst and I’ve jotted them down in a handy list format.

Support from my betas. I had wonderful comments from them and re-reading those cheers me up immensely. The fact that one of them has thought of rereading my little manuscript makes me all happy and teary.

Friends and family. They love me so I know they’ll put up with an occasional Bridget Jones’ angst. Heck, if it’s a choice between dating angst and agent angst, they’ll probably pick the agent.

Absolute Write. Because EVERYONE who has tried to get an agent has gone through this.

The gym. Endorphins. Enough said.

Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful, and Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion. All movies where the underdog comes out on top.

Falling in love with a new project.

So what about you? What picks you up when you’re in the query doldrums?


Agent Survey – NaNo Style!

October 30, 2009

A couple weeks ago, I emailed several agents with the following question:

Do you see an uptick in year-end queries because of people’s participation in NaNoWriMo?

The results?

Eh. It was just about a 50/50 split between yes and no. But, there was a really good discussion post. Basically, querying comes after lots of editing, not after lots of writing.

I also had a few thoughts to leave you with:
1) Sample size is crucial in surveys…and my sample size was pretty small, given the total number of agents out there.
2) One agent speculated that the uptick she saw might be related to people having time off of work, therefore giving them more time to query.
3) My own theory is that an increase in year-end queries could also be attributed to people fulfilling their New Years resolutions. I know I never remember my resolutions until December…

Thanks to the agents who responded, and good luck to those of you who’ll turn into writing machines November 1, 2009 🙂

– Holen Mathews


Cardinal Query Sins

October 6, 2009

I am not an agent. I do not have an agent. I did once talk to an agent on the phone. I babbled. My cousin happened to be with me at the time (we were having lunch) and, afterward, said I hadn’t looked that nervous since I decided to ask Brent C to the eighth grade formal dance.

All of this is a roundabout way of telling you that I am completely unqualified to give query advice. That won’t, however, stop me from presenting you with my list of TOP TEN CARDINAL QUERY SINS (I figured it deserved capital letters).

  1. Start off with a rhetorical question. I’m not saying they can never work but enough agents hate them that you’re probably better off steering clear.
  2. Mention movie potential. Mentioning series potential is debatable (I think it’s fine for certain genres, others disagree) but mentioning movie potential is definitely the sign of an amateur. Concentrate on selling the agent on your book.
  3. Mention that another agent passed but said your character, plot, premise (insert item of choice) was great. You’d think this one would be common sense but, alas, not always.
  4. Use the words “fiction novel” (science fiction novel, however, is fine). I’ve read this in more than one query and it sets my teeth on edge.
  5. Tell the agent that this is your first book. Good agents are sharp (and , hopefully, you’re only querying good agents). When you don’t list your publishing credits, they’ll figure things out.
  6. Quote your characters. Don’t. Just don’t.
  7. Compare your novel to Twilight.
  8. Waste space on irrelevant details. You don’t have to tell the agent that you love to write or that you have a blog about kittens (unless your book is about cats). The goal of your query is to interest an agent enough to read your pages. Always ask yourself if the details you are including work towards that goal.
  9. Begin with “Dear Agent/Sir or Madame”. You spent year(s) working on your manuscript. For the love of 12 point Times New Roman, take a few seconds to properly address the query letter. And, for the love of Courier, don’t Cc other agents when you send it. One agent. One letter. One email.
  10. I leave up you, faithful commentators. What’s your cardinal query sin?

– Kathleen who receieved some wonderful feedback (on AW) about her query letter from Janice Hardy. Her new MG book, The Shifter, hits shelves today. Congrats Janice!


Famous Authors Who Were Rejected Repeatedly

August 29, 2009

I’m fortunate to have some of the best writing partners-in-crime in the world (in my opinion). One of my friends over on Writers’ Cafe said she came across a website and immediately thought about me. I found myself in better spirits after reading about famous authors, who were rejected–not only by agents but by publishers–numerous times. Their works are famous, and have been read by millions. After reading this article, I can honestly say that I have a whole new outlook on the writing/publishing biz. Take a look.

I also wanted to point out the words of Judy Bloome:

“I would go to sleep at night feeling that I’d never be published. But I’d wake up in the morning convinced I would be. Each time I sent a story or book off to a publisher, I would sit down and begin something new. I was learning more with each effort. I was determined. Determination and hard work are as important as talent.”

Her quote made me realize that persistence pays off, determination is required, and hard work is a given.



On the similarities between trying to land an agent and trying to land a job.

August 12, 2009

Your query letter is like your resume.  Both give you an opportunity to show off prior experience.  Relevant education also helps, and a good reference can make all the difference.   You should check both for spelling and grammar errors.  Your should keep them as short as possible while showcasing what you have to offer.  The idea is to get your foot in the door – get that interview or manuscript request.

Once you’re at that next stage, you need to make them want to work with you.  You do this by professional behavior and by bringing your best.  Sending in a manuscript that you know is flawed is like showing up in a wrinkled suit.  Give everything one last check before putting it in their hands.

Here’s a quick list of things not to do if you manage to reach this stage.  Don’t contact them before the time you’ve been told they’ll contact you unless it’s really important, as in an offer from someone else.  Don’t resort to bribery.  Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t want them hearing.  I’m sure that there’s an entire post worth of don’ts that could go here.

Now that you’ve landed an agent/job, the similarities continue.  You two are partnering up to make money.  You are not partnered to become BFF.  Be punctual.  Don’t whine.  And unless you no longer both believe in the wonderfulness of the product you’re trying to sell, you stick with it even after the sparkly newness wears off.

One last quickie.  Thanks to the internet, there are thousands of other people who are thinking the same way you are.  Many of them are wackos, wasting the agent’s valuable time that could be spent loving you.  Unfortunately, there’s not anything you can do about them 😉

– Holen


Self Publishing Spotlight

July 18, 2009

Self publishing has become a popular nontraditional route to publication in the last few years and has propelled some authors to the best seller’s shelf. I attended a writer’s conference at Columbus State Community College in Ohio last April and listened to Jennifer De Chiara’s story of how one of her clients became very successful through the self publication route. In this particular case, the children’s picture book was rejected by publishers because of the sheer cost of production of the book itself. The writer was adamant that a little stuff animal needed attached to the book itself. The publishers told her that there wasn’t a possibility of that book ever getting published if she wouldn’t drop the demand of the stuffed animal. So she turned to Jennifer some advice.

After Jennifer had exhausted all of the publishing possibilities she advised her client to try the self publishing route because she felt the book was good and that it would probably sell with the right marketing. So the author fronted all the money for the printing costs, gathered up all her connections and set out to sell her beloved children’s picture book.

A short time passed and the author did some awesome self marketing that landed her on the QVC home shopping network.It wasn’t long after that appearance that she was on the best seller list. Soon all of the publishers that had once rejected her, were seeking her out, and offering her deals.

Self publishing does offer you an alternative way to get your work into print. Although the above is not a typical success story of self publication, it does allow your voice to be heard. Who knows, if you decide to go this way,it could possibly get you noticed in the literary world as a serious author.

—–Story by: Annie McElfresh


Quake Press

July 16, 2009


Today, we’ll be looking at another small press- Quake, a company owned by Echelon Press, LLC. Quake publishes one full-length paperback title per month. According to their website, “We are seeking authors with strong character development, good plotting, and strong technical skills, with the ability to engage young readers on an emotional level. The willingness and ability to market and promote to a young audience is crucial in the publication process.” Quake is currently accepting submissions for children’s books (8-13) and Young Adult (14-21). The young adult genres Quake is currently looking for are fiction, adventure, spy, fantasy/horror, mystery/suspense/thriller, and romance. They will not only accept single title manuscripts (40,000-90,000 words) to be printed in both e-book format and print, but also publishes novellas (10,000-40,000) and short stories (2,500-10,000) in e-book format.

Quake will consider e-mail queries submitted to Should Quake request a full manuscript, their submission guidelines are listed at Quake is currently particularly interested in genres that target young male readers (ages: 12 – 18).

If you are interested in finding out more about Quake, you can check out their Children’s and Young Adult blog and their catalog of books at Quake says they are “shakin’ up young readers” and now is a great time for you to jump in at this growing press!