Tag Archives: agents

It’s That Time of Year – Write on Con is Nearly Here!

I’m excited as always for the return of Write on Con this year. Haven’t heard of it? If you write any kind of kidlit, from picture books through to young adult, it’s not to be missed. This year it takes place on the 13th and 14th of August (US time).

What is Write on Con?

Write on Con is an online conference for writers of kidlit (from picture books through to young adult). It’s for writers all over the world and best of all it’s FREE!

What Happens at Write on Con?

– Live chats and blogging events with professionals in the industry, such as agents.

– Query critique sessions.

– Posts from industry professionals and authors on a variety of topics, from querying to characters and everything in between.

– Workshops.

– Peer critiques (queries/first 250 words/first 5 pages) in the forum.

– Contests.

– Writing discussions (in the forum).

– NINJA AGENTS! Secret Agents (literary agents, not the spy kind) stalk the forums and comment on/critique queries and pages writers have posted for peer review. Some writers have even been known to get requests.

Why I Love Write on Con

It’s FREE. As someone living on a tight budget, I feel guilty spending money on conferences when we’re paying off our house and raising a family who need to eat, so Write on Con is a God send for me.

It’s online. I live rurally – about a three hour drive to the nearest big city where all the conferences take place. Not only can I not afford to travel to and stay overnight in the city to attend, I also have three small children at home. At Write on Con I get to attend from my own home – no travel required. (I can even wear my pyjamas if I want!)

Meeting fellow writers. In past years I’ve met some really lovely writers whom I still talk to now. I even started up a critique group with a few of them following my first conference.

Learning lots about the craft and the publishing industry. Every year I come away with so much fabulous information from the live blogs, chats and posts by the industry professionals and authors that I’ve been able to put into practice with my writing. And even if you can’t attend one of the live events (due to timezone or other commitments) you can still access it afterwards.

I highly recommend Write on Con for anyone who writes children’s literature.

You can check out Write on Con here: http://writeoncon.com

And register for the forums here:  http://writeoncon.com/forum/forum.php

Will you be attending this year? I hope to see you there!

Advertisements

Helpful Blog Posts – May 2013

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but I’ve come across some great posts this past month. Don’t forget you can check out the masterlist (click the tab at the top of the page) for a comprehensive list of helpful writing topics.

Agent Tips – From Querying to Accepting an Offer

A comprehensive post covering each stage on the journey to acquiring an agent, including how to set out your query letter, what to do if your manuscript is requested, what to do if you receive an offer and how to handle multiple offers.

Understand the Key Book Publishing Paths

Not sure if you want to go the traditional publishing route or self publish? This infographic looks at the various book publishing paths, including the values of each and any warnings.

Copyright for Authors

Ever wondered how copyright applies to your writing, including your unpublished writing? This post explains it.

31 Ways to Find New Readers, Outside Your Network

Though this post is aimed specifically at Indie authors, it is just as relevant for those who are traditionally published. Lots of suggestions on how to reach readers beyond your usual social media circles.

What Are the Real Costs of Self-Publishing? Wrong Question

A great post for those looking at self-publishing and how best to budget to produce a profitable product.

Helpful Writing Sites and Blog Posts January 2011

Time for the first ‘Helpful Writing Sites and Blog Posts’ post of the the year. I’ve collected a lot of great picture book links through the 12 x 12 challenge Facebook group, but I also have a few links in other areas of writing, too.

Writing (General)

Some Advice to New or Aspiring Authors

Some great advice and tips for writers new to the writing/publishing journey.

How to Make a Boring Character Interesting

This post outlines the various reasons your character could be coming across as boring or flat and offers some solutions to make your character more interesting.

Five Tips for Revising Your Novel

Literary Agent Courtney Miller-Callihan gives five tips that look at your novel as a whole when doing revisions, including a tip on character names and another on dialogue tags.

What Will Make an Agent ‘Gong’ Your Query

Thirteen reasons why an agent will stop reading your query–things to avoid when writing query letters.

Grandma Mary Can’t Market Your Book

Whether you intend to self publish or go the traditional publishing route, authors need to consider marketing. This post gives 7 steps to building a marketing plan and reaching out to your readership. It even includes a nifty chart you can use.

When to Quit Querying and Self-Publish

This post does a great job of presenting the various aspects you need to consider if you’re thinking about self-publishing after having little success with querying. It takes a very honest look at the possible reasons your work may be getting rejected and whether self-publishing is a viable alternative and also gives the honest facts about what it takes to self-publish. I love how honest, balanced and unbiased this post is in regards to self-publishing vs. traditional publishing.

Writing for Children

9 Factors That Make a Picture Book Successful

If you are a picture book writer this is a post well worth reading. These are nine important elements to writing an effective picture book.

The 6 Most Common Mistakes Made by Aspiring Children’s Book Authors

6 common mistakes this editor sees made by picture book authors and some advice on how to avoid them.

For All Picture Book Writers, Read This

Links to a four-part interview with Vice President and Editorial Director of HarperCollins Children’s Books and a three-part interview with Golden Books/Random House Editorial Director. Lots of great little nuggets of advice for picture book writers in both interviews.

Picture Book Tips from Successful Agents

Children’s book author and editor Tamson Weston consulted with agents on what makes a picture book successful and shared the top five tips for making your submission stand out.

Writing Easy Readers – Or How To Get 2nd Graders to Love You

5 quick tips for appealing to early readers as shared by an author of children’s chapter books.

The Publisher Checklist

One of my resolutions/goals this year is to submit more. I was fully prepared to submit some of my stories last year and had everything ready to go. I had several polished stories and a checklist of publishers for each. Hesitation and procrastination held me back. I should have been sending more out as soon as I got replies back, but I hummed and hawed over whether the stories were really good enough and whether they needed more work before sending on to the next. I had a good year in 2011, though. My success rate for submissions in terms of short stories/competitions was nearly 50%. I should have submitted more! I also got positive feedback from publishers on some of my children’s stories, which should have encouraged me. So this year I’m resolved to submit more–especially in terms of my children’s stories.

The Publisher Checklist

When submitting, it’s vital to keep track of what is being sent to whom. That’s why I keep a publisher checklist as a spreadsheet in Excel. I want to share that with you, in case anyone else finds it helpful. Of course, it can be applied just as readily to agents if you happen to be submitting to agents.

– Name of publisher (or agency). Those highlighted in red are those who are currently closed to submissions. It’s a good idea to check back every now and then, though, as sometimes they reopen for short periods of time. Those highlighted in yellow are those to whom I have submitted and am waiting to hear back from (I haven’t started submitting this particular story yet). Those highlighted in blue are the ones I have heard back from.

– Contact name. Most publishers request for you to address the submission ‘to the editor’ or something along those lines, but for those who have a specific contact name I add them to the list. This is especially important if you are submitting to agents, as agents would prefer you address them by name rather than ‘dear agent’.

– Contact details. This is where I list their postal address and/or e-mail (depending on how they prefer you to submit). I also list their phone number.

– Query done? A simple yes or no here. As you can see, I’ve only written our a query/cover letter for Scholastic for this story at the time of this post. I usually write a generic query/cover letter for each story that’s ready to submit, then I copy it into a new Word document and tailor it to suit each individual publisher, keeping their individual guidelines in mind.

– E-mail/Post? Some publishers prefer submission by post, others by e-mail. It’s important to note this down as it will determine how you format your query/cover letter. (For example: a postal letter requires contact details at the top of the letter, whereas an e-mail requires them at the bottom.)

– Simultaneous submission? Here I note if a publisher specifically states they are not open to simultaneous submission (they will not accept submissions that have also been subbed elsewhere–it has to be exclusive). I also mark the box red so I don’t accidentally send to them when I’ve subbed to other publishers.

– Reread submission guidelines? Here I paste a link directly to the submission guidelines. I won’t send out my query/cover letter until I’ve marked this box with a green YES.

– Stamped self-addressed envelope? For those who require postal submission, a SSAE is required if you wish to receive a reply and your manuscript back (in the case of a rejection). This gets a tick when done.

– Sent? Once the submission had been sent this box gets a tick (plus the publisher gets highlighted in yellow).

– Date sent. So I can keep track of how long it’s been out on submission.

Expected wait time. This is how long they estimate it will take for you to receive a reply. Once I’ve sent the submission, I make note of what date I should expect to hear back from them.

– Reply received? Once I receive a reply, I note the date and whether it was a rejection or not. For a rejection I highlight this box red. For requested edits it gets highlighted yellow. And if it gets accepted: green.

– I then have subheadings for stages of edits if they have been requested (eg: edits requested, date edits sent).

It’s important to regularly recheck details and update the list. Addresses and contacts can change. Some publishers are only open at certain times or close down submissions if they don’t have room for anything new.

How do you keep track of your submissions? Do you keep some kind of checklist?

 

Write on Con is Nearly Here

I’m so excited for Write on Con this year. I attended last year and got so much out of it. This year it will be commencing on August 16th.

What is Write on Con?

Write on Con is an online conference for writers of kidlit (from picture books through to young adult). It’s for writers all over the world and best of all it’s FREE!

What Happens at Write on Con?

– Live chats and blogging events with professionals in the industry, such as agents.

– Query critique sessions.

– Posts from industry professionals and authors on a variety of topics, from querying to characters and everything in between.

– Workshops.

– Peer critiques (queries/first 250 words/first 5 pages) in the forum.

– Contests.

– Writing discussions (in the forum).

Why I Love Write on Con

It’s FREE. As someone living on a tight budget, I feel guilty spending money on conferences when we’re paying off our house and we need a new freezer, so Write on Con is a God send for me.

It’s online. I live rurally – about a three hour drive to the nearest big city where all the conferences take place. Not only can I not afford to travel to and stay overnight in the city to attend, I also have two small children at home. At Write on Con I get to attend from my own home – no travel required. (I can even wear my pyjamas if I want!)

Meeting fellow writers. Last year I met some really lovely writers whom I still talk to now. I even started up a critique group with a few of them following the conference, which is still going strong.

Learning lots about the craft and the publishing industry. Last year I came away with so much fabulous information from the live blogs, chats and posts by the industry professionals and authors that I’ve been able to put into practice with my writing. And even if you can’t attend one of the live events (due to timezone or other commitments) you can still access it afterwards.

I highly recommend Write on Con for anyone who writes children’s literature.

You can check out Write on Con here: http://writeoncon.com

And register for the forums here (you can even introduce yourself already):  http://writeoncon.com/forum/forum.php

5 Things I’ve Learned About Writing Query Letters

I recently decided to enter ABNA (Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Awards) as a test to see if I could get past the pitch round. I’ve written and rewritten my pitch/query dozens of times, but still wasn’t sure if I was hitting the mark. I didn’t make it through the pitch round, and this confirmed for me that I need to work more on my pitching skills before I start querying my MS. Yesterday I wrote and rewrote my pitch a dozen more times. I read blog after blog on writing queries. Then I rewrote again. I’m still not sure if it’s there yet. I’m letting it sit for a few days now before I go back to it. But after reading so much information on queries, I thought I would share some of the most important things I’ve learned about writing queries – not just yesterday, but since I first started researching queries.

1. Make sure you include both the TITLE and WORD COUNT for your MS.

2. You need to include WHAT YOUR PROTAGONIST WANTS, WHAT IS PREVENTING THEM FROM ACHIEVING IT and WHAT IS AT STAKE IF THEY FAIL.

3. Keep your query BRIEF and CONCISE – don’t ramble or try to include every single plot point. 1 – 2 paragraphs is sufficient for describing your MS. Try to keep it under 250 words.

4. In your bio paragraph only include information relevant to writing or your subject area. Include relevant publishing credits and writing associations you are a member of. Don’t include how many dogs you own or that writing competition you won when you were twelve.

5. ALWAYS CHECK SUBMISSION GUIDELINES! I made this red, because most agents will tell you it’s their biggest pet peeve when writers don’t check guidelines before submitting. Make sure you spell the agent/editor’s name right. Make sure the agent/publishing house actually accepts submissions in your genre.

If you’re looking for some GREAT SITES ON QUERIES, here are some of the best I’ve come across:

Query Shark

How To Write A Query Letter

How I Got My Agent (The Parts of a Good Query)

Cover Letters and Query Letters

10 Common Query Mistakes

Checklist for Submitting

Some GREAT QUERY HASHTAGS to follow on Twitter:

#queries

#queryfest

#querychat

And finally, if you head over to Write on Con they have some great query critique competitions running at the moment. All you have to do is comment on the prize you want and you could win a query critique for your YA, MG or PB manuscript.

Why You Should Double-Check Submission Guidelines

Only a couple of months ago I compiled a list of publishers to query. I made up a spreadsheet with details such as contact details, whether they accept e-mail or postal submissions and a link to their submission guidelines pages.

Today as I was polishing up a query letter to send out to one of the publishers I thought I should double-check their submission guidelines. I’m so glad I did, because some of their guidelines had changed drastically since my last visit. Their biggest change: previously they only accepted postal submissions, now they only accept e-mail submissions (postal submissions are now ignored). Imagine if I had simply gone by the details I had saved only few months ago – I would have been prepared to send my submission by post.

On double-checking another publisher’s guidelines I noted they are no longer accepting unsolicited submissions. If I hadn’t checked, I would have sent my submission and it would have been a waste.

The lesson here is to ALWAYS double-check the submission guidelines before you send, even if you think you know them already. Guidelines change, submissions close or open and editors/agents may leave. Yesterday the guidelines may have said to post your letter with your first three chapters to Paul Newton, but today the guidelines may say to e-mail your letter with a synopsis to Lisa Simpson or submissions are now closed until June.

And if you’re the kind of person to keep a spreadsheet or Word document with publisher details, make sure you update it regularly (and still double-check the publisher/agent’s website before you send).

Helpful Writing Sites & Blog Posts January 2011

The first helpful writing sites blog post for the year. I’ve come across quite a few good ones this month.

Writing Advice

Writing in the Age of Distraction

Tips on how to balance writing with social media/the internet. What I most like about this post is that Cory Doctorow outlines how the internet has benefited his writing as much as it’s been a distraction and that there can be balance – you don’t have to black-ban yourself from the internet to get writing done.

Back Story and Exposition

Brooke Johnson talks about mastering the skills of back story and exposition without resorting to the dreaded ‘info-dump’.

How to Write Intriguing Male and Female Characters

A post on how understanding gender differences can improve your writing in any genre.

Want to Get High (Concept)?

A post explaining what makes a story ‘high concept’.

The Increasing Importance of the First Chapter

Author Jody Hedlund explains why the first chapter is so important. She also includes a link to a post on ‘Potential First Chapter Problems’.

100 Stories for Queensland Update

While the submissions for the 100 Stories for Queensland Anthology closes today (there’s still just over 12 hours left to submit – it’s for a great cause), this post is worth reading if you are a short story writer. Scroll down the page a little and Nick Daw gives some great advice on writing short stories.

Queries

Is the Query System Dying?

Author Jody Hedlund talks about query statistics and how you can improve your chances of getting an agent.

The Difference Between ‘Pitch’ and ‘Query’

Query Shark, Janet Reid, outlines the difference between giving a verbal pitch to an agent and writing a query.

Your Professional Bio: Query Letter and Cover Letter Tips for Writers

As part of a query or cover letter, writers are asked to include a bio paragraph. This post outlines the things you should and shouldn’t include in your bio paragraph, and what to do if you have no writing credentials.

The Biggest Mistakes Writers Make When Querying Literary Agents

This is a long post, but well worth reading. J.M. Tohline e-mailed 100 literary agents and asked them the same question, “What is the single biggest mistake writers make when querying you?” This post looks at the answers received from these agents, including some of the detail agents went into when answering.

Synopses

How to Write a Synopsis for Your Novel

7 steps to writing an effective synopsis.  This post gives advice on how to avoid ending up with a boring summary of your story (‘and then this happened and then that happened’), and tells you how you can include the emotional twists and turns that make your story interesting.

Manuscript Submission

Checklist for Submission

This truly awesome checklist has been compiled by an editor/publisher. The comprehensive checklist includes everything you need to remember when submitting your manuscript. It even includes a handy printable version with check boxes.

Formatting Your Manuscript – The Silent Scream

All the things you can do to ‘keep your editor’s hair from turning white’.

*image by nuttakit

Helpful Sites November 2010 edition + NaNoWriMo Results!

I have to start this post by yelling very loudly “I DID IT!” I reached 50,000 words on the 30th November (today) at 4.10pm Australian time. I’d actually fallen behind my word goal the last few days, meaning I had to write around 2,100 words today to hit 50k. It was very exciting putting my 50,000 words into the NaNoWriMo word count evaluator and receiving my winner’s certificate. Thank-you so much to everyone who cheered me on and supported me throughout the month of November. And in case you don’t believe me, here’s my NaNoWriMo page (complete with my final word count).

Now onto the helpful websites and blog posts for the month of November. There aren’t quite as many as usual, since I’ve been writing more than scouting for sites, but there were a few good ones. I’ve even included a few at the end for those finishing up NaNoWriMo and in need of a laugh.

Resource Roundup – NaNoWriMo Edition

The bluestocking blog did a great round up of helpful and insightful posts relating to NaNoWriMo earlier in the month, but there are quite a few helpful writing links in there worth checking out even though NaNo is now over.

Plotting Your Story

Brooke Johnson, self-proclaimed panster, outlines how she still does some plotting when she writes.

7 Things Your Characters Do Too Much

I know I’m guilty of a couple of these!

The Five Elements of a Novel Query

The first post in a blog series on writing novel queries, this post outlines the five elements that should be included in your query, and follows up with some examples.

5 Ways to Make Your Novel Helplessly Addictive

Five things you should be including on every page of your book to ensure your reader keeps on reading.

6 and 1/2 Ways to Impress an Agent

Literary agent Tina Wexler outlines six and a half ways to impress an agent.

And now for the fun stuff (because I know after writing 50k words in a month I need some relief)…

Lemony Snicket’s Pep Talk

Anyone who is an official NaNoWriMo participant would have got this in their inbox during November, but if you’re not an official participant or you never got around to opening the e-mail you should read this. Quite funny.

So You’ve Discovered That You’re A Fictional Character

Humourously outlines all those amateur mistakes we writers make when we first start writing by speaking with a fictional character who is the result of bad writing. (I’m sure a few of our NaNoWriMo characters are still in this stage until we go back and start editing.)

So You Want To Write A Novel

Weren’t we all that naive when we first started out, before we started reading agent blogs and realising there is more to writing than just slapping words on a page? I got a good giggle from this video.

A big congratulations to everyone who particpated in NaNoWriMo this month, whether you reached 50,000 words or not.

Blogiversary Celebrations: Part Two – Award Ceremony

Welcome to the first ever The Graceful Doe Blogiversary Award Ceremony! It’s nice to see everyone dressed in their finest.  Now that everyone is seated let the award ceremony begin.

Over the past year I have visited numerous sites on writing, querying, etc. Many of those sites and posts have contained lots of great information and some of those great sites and posts I have shared on my blog. The awards to be presented today go to those who I have kept returning to over and over again, who give great advice or tips to writers, and who are just all around fabulous people.

Just over a year ago I discovered how much the internet had to offer aspiring authors. At that time I had decided to get serious about writing a novel and found a lot of great sites with information just right for the helping me begin my serious writing journey. So the first award is the Best Site for New Writers award. This award goes to a site offering helpful advice to those writers who may just be starting out. A site that covers the writing basics, such as writing effective dialogue and character building, in an easy to understand approach. This award goes to…

Barry Lyga’s blog barrylyga.com

For those who don’t know, the majority of my writing falls into the category of kid lit, that is, writing aimed at children and teens. As a result, I read a lot of blogs and posts relating to kid lit. This next award is for the Best Site for Kid Lit Writers. This award is for a site that covers the various aspects of writing picture books, chapter books, middle grade and young adult, giving writers of kid lit great advice to help improve their writing and querying. This award goes to…

Mary Kole’s blog kidlit.com

Query writing is something many writers agonise over, which is why it’s great that there are so many insightful blogs and websites out there offering advice. This next award is for the Best Query Advice Site. It’s for a site dedicated to helping writers write effective queries. With her brutal honesty and dedication to helping writers get their queries right, this award goes to…

The Query Shark (aka Janet Reid) at queryshark.blogspot.com

In the past year I have come across some of the loveliest literary agents. They are willing to take time to tweet and blog about querying and writing for the benefit of writers to help them along their journey towards publication. The Best Agent Site award is for a blog or website of a literary agent that offers advice and encouragement to aspiring authors. And the award goes to…

Rachelle Gardner and her blog cba-ramblings.blogspot.com

And as many lovely agents as there are about, there are just as many lovely agent interns. From tweeting about the query pile to blogging helpful hints for writers, agent interns are a great resource for aspiring authors. The award for Best Agent Intern Site is for a blog offering advice to writers, including not just advice on query letters, but other aspects of writing too. This award goes to…

Cassandra Marshall’s blog www.camarshall.com

Still on the topic of agents, anyone who follows the #queries hashtag or #askagent hashtag (or any similar hashtags) on Twitter knows that there are agents and agent interns out there giving great advice to writers on Twitter. I have a long list of agents and agent interns I follow on Twitter and all of them are only too willing to help out aspiring authors. I just had to include an award for the Best Agent to Follow on Twitter. This award is for an agent on Twitter who regularly tweets valuable advice to writers. The award goes to…

Natalie Fischer @Natalie_Fischer

There are a lot of great Twitter chats for writers. There are chats to discuss the craft of writing, writing genres, querying and a multitude of other topics. I considered doing an award for the best writer chat, but then I had another idea. Instead this award is for the Friendliest Writer Chat. This award is for a chat where you are bound to meet the friendliest writers around, who are always willing to offer support to their fellow writers and are only to happy to share links and resources with each other. The award goes to the very friendly…

#pblitchat (run by two lovely ladies known on Twitter as @KarenCollum and @KatApel)

Writer forums offer great support for writers. Apart from offering a way to connect with fellow writers, these forums are places where you can have your writing or queries critiqued, find out information about the writing industry, or, if you are really lucky, even find an agent for your book. The award for Best Writer Forum goes to a site that offers all these things as well as supporting and encouraging emerging writers. The award goes to…

YA Lit Chat at yalitchat.ning.com

And now we get to a couple of more personal awards. Critique groups and critique partners help writers see plot holes, character flaws and poor word choice a writer may have overlooked. They read a manuscipt with fresh eyes, reading it how a reader would read and understand the story without the bias the writer him/herself have, yet at the same time because they are writers themselves they can also look at the manuscript and tell the writer not just that something isn’t working, but why it isn’t working. This past few months I have been swapping chapters with a critique partner and I think she is deserving of the award for Awesome Critique Partner. The award goes to…

Beth Hull (you can find her blog here)

The last award today goes to someone who I’ve been collaborating with the past couple of weeks to bring you all a 5 page critique contest, someone who is also celebrating her 1st blogiversary today. The award for Best Blogiversary Buddy goes to…

Peevish Penman (aka Carrie Bailey – find her blog here)

And that concludes The Graceful Doe’s first ever Blogiversary Award Ceremony.

More blogiversary celebrations still to come (including the winners of the blogiversary contest).