Tag Archives: queries

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!

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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.

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

Helpful Writing Sites and Blog Posts March 2011

I’m excited this month to introduce a new addition to my blog. If you look up at the tabs above you will see a new one titled, ‘Helpful Writing Sites and Blog Posts Masterlist’. In this master list I have gathered all the links from all the past editions of ‘Helpful Writing Sites and Blog Posts’ into one place. This way you won’t have to go searching through all the past editions to find the link you’re looking for. To make it even easier, I’ve put the links under headings, such as: ‘dialogue’, ‘openings’ and ‘queries’, so if you’re looking for information on query writing, go to the ‘queries’ section or if you want a stronger opening, go to the ‘openings’ section. From now on, whenever I do one of these monthly posts, the links will get added to the master list.

Now, onto this month’s edition:

Writing

How to Get Published: A Flowchart

A great flowchart (and checklist) on the writing process and a great way to know if you’re ready to query.

My Writing Success: The ONE Thing That Helped Me Most

Author Jody Hedlund explains the one specific thing that helped her most on her journey towards writing success.

On Story Openings

Using their soon-to-be-published anthology of stories as examples, The Australian Literature Review outlines the elements of effective story opening lines.

Story Skeletons: Teaching Plot Structure with Picture Books

Although this post is meant to be a teaching tool for young readers/writers in the classroom, it’s a great post for writers of picture books as well. It focuses on the basic structures used in picture story books and includes examples of each structure.

Where Should a Second Chapter Start?

There’s always a big focus for writers on getting that first chapter perfect, but what about chapter two? This post looks at building a strong second chapter.

Five Ways to Show Emotion in Your Writing

Based on the book From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction by Robert Olen Butler, this post looks at expressing emotion in your writing with a focus on showing vs telling.

Genre Novels – Word Count Rules, Subgenres, and Guidelines for Getting Your Book Published

A short guide to word count rules and subgenres for the various genres (fantasy, romance, historical, mystery, thriller, horror, YA, and Western).

Ten Mistakes Writers Don’t See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do)

Before you submit your work, double-check to make sure you haven’t made any of these mistakes that are easy to fix. (Sometimes this is where a critique partner can come in handy.)

NOTE: For number one, I find Wordle is a helpful website for weeding out crutch words. For number nine, reading aloud is a great way to pick up on awkward phrasing.

The Doctor is in the House – Novel Diagnostics

An exploration of common problems found in the beginning of a manuscript that can be an indicator of problems in the rest of the manuscript.

Queries/Pitches

The Twitter Query

A look at how to write an effective query in only 140 characters.

Rites of Submission: Cover Letters and Query Letters

This article includes two sample letters: an example of what not to do (including common mistakes) and a successful letter.

How I Got My Agent (Part 1: The Parts of a Good Query)

Author Susan Dennard shares advice on writing a good query letter, using her own successful query letter as an example.

Synopsis

How to Write a 1 Page Synopsis

A break down of the key elements needed for a one page synopsis. Includes worksheet.

Motivation

On Sticking With It

A reminder from author/agent Mandy Hubbard that is hard to become published, and why it is important to stick to it and not give up.

Social Media

Twitter Hashtags for Writers

Using these writer hashtags on Twitter is a great way to meet fellow writers. A comprehensive list of writer hashtags, including a schedule of writer chats on Twitter.

8 Sentence to Immediately Cut From Your Twitter

These 8 bio mistakes may be costing you followers and you may want to avoid them. Includes two things you may want to include instead.

Blogging Tips: Tips for Increasing Your Followers and/or Subscribers

Rachael Harrie has some great simple tips for building up a following on your writing blog.

Facebook for Authors: How to Get Started

Agent Nathan Bransford gives some helpful tips on starting up a Facebook author page.

For Fun

9 Things Everyone Needs to Know About Writers.

Very funny and very true. Pass this list on to all your non-writing friends.

Speaking of Facebook author pages, I’ve just started one of my own. You can find it here: http://www.facebook.com/JoHartAuthor or on the Facebook link on the sidebar of this blog.

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.

Helpful Writing Sites & Blog Posts February 2011 Edition

Before I do this month’s roundup of helpful writing sites and blog posts, I just want to send out my thoughts and prayers to those in New Zealand affected by the earthquake. If you wish to donate to the New Zealand Red Cross to help out those affected, here is a link: New Zealand Red Cross

Onto the most helpful sites and posts I’ve come across this month:

Writing

Punctuation Made Easy

This is by far the best site on punctuation I’ve found. It covers colons, semicolons, commas, dashes and apostrophes. It is very straightforward and clear and makes understanding how to use punctuation very easy. I always thought I was good at punctuation, but reading so many complicated posts on punctuation on the internet has often left me confused on whether I’m doing it right. This site is now my go to site when I need clarity.

The Very Basics: Ten Things All Writers Need To Do

Ten things writers should do if they want a shot at getting published.

Opening No Nos

Killzone author James Scott Bell outlines opening chapter no nos based on statements by literary agents.

Five Tips for Your First Five Pages

From things you shouldn’t do in your opening to things you should do.

Back to Basics – Dialog

This post explains the difference between a conversation and dialogue.

8 Ways to Pile on the Fear in Your Horror Fiction

Great post for horror writers looking for ways to amp up the fear factor in their writing.

The Power of Touch

A look at the way J.K. Rowling uses touch in the Harry Potter series as a way of showing emotion, rather than telling.

Creating a Magic System

A great post for fantasy writers on creating a magic system that fits best with the world in your novel.

Lovable and Admirable Characters

We all want to create characters our readers will want to read more about. Author Denise Jaden shares some advice she received about qualities your main character should have to ensure he/she is engaging and lovable.

How to Get the Biggest Bang for Your Plot Point

This post outlines where your main plot points occur in your manuscript and what you should be doing at these points to create a deeper connection with your reader.

Tightening Your (Manuscript’s) Belt

A checklist for eliminating unnecessary prose.

7 Ways Glee Can Improve Your Fiction Writing

Joanna Penn uses the popular TV show ‘Glee’ as a metaphor for ways to improve your writing.

Queries

How to Write a Bio for Your Query

Dot point list of what to include and also includes an example of what to do if you have no writing credentials.

What Your Query Says About Your Book

Your query letter is your first impression of your manuscript. This post tells you how much an agent can tell about your manuscript just by reading your query letter.

Query Me Crazy

Corinne Jackson shares an original query letter she wrote that kept getting rejected, tips she received from a literary agent to improve the query and a revised query she wrote using the tips from the agent that resulted in requests for  partials and fulls.

Just for Fun

The 46 Stages of Twitter

For anyone on Twitter, you’ll be able to relate to these ‘stages’.

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 Writing Sites and Blog Posts – October 2010 Edition

For this month’s helpful writing sites post I’m going to put the links under two sections. The first section will be sites and blog posts specific to NaNoWriMo since I’ve come across a few of these in the lead up to NaNoWriMo and the other section will be for general writing sites and blog posts, so if you’re not doing NaNoWriMo you can just skip down to that section (of course quite a few the NaNoWriMo specific links have some great information for all writers, so they’re worth a look anyway).

NaNoWriMo

Official NaNoWriMo Site

This is where you sign up if you want to be an official participant in NaNoWriMo. You can set up a bio page, connect with fellow NaNoWriMoers and find out information about National Novel Writing Month. There’s also a handy link to the forums.

NaNoWriMo Forums

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo and haven’t already checked out the forums you should. There are a multitude of groups you can join, from age specific groups to genre specific groups. If you put in your location when you signed up there should also be a subforum visible for your area where you can connect with others near you and find out about local events like write-ins. There are also many threads that will prove to be helpful once the madness of November begins.

NaNo Notebook

One NaNoWriMoer describes a great way to organise a novel notebook in preparation for NaNoWriMo. At the end of the post she also includes some links to some writing tools that can be found online.

5 Reasons You Should Do NaNoWriMo

Still undecided if you should do NaNoWriMo or not? There’s still time to join! Johanna Penn lists some great reasons why NaNoWriMo is beneficial to any writer. I agree with every one of them.

Write or Die

I used this tool last year for NaNoWriMo and I don’t think I could have got as much written as I did without it. The idea is you have to keep writing until you reach the amount of time/words you set or you get ‘punished’. The punishments range from mild (an annoying noise) to severe (it starts erasing what you’ve written!). You get one pause, but once you’ve used it you can’t use it again for that session. I would use this one a lot if I got writers block, because it forced me to just write. It is also good if you are so many words off reaching your word goal for the day, as you can set the word goal you want to reach and just keep writing until you get to that goal. Don’t forget to copy and paste into your Word doc when your session is over.

General

Know Your Female Character Stereotypes

Wondering if your female character is stereotypical or original? Try this flowchart. Start at the start and answer the questions truthfully to see where your character falls.

Three Essential Tips for Writing a Publishable Novel

This post outlines three quick tips you can apply to write a publishable novel.

12 Common Picture Book Mistakes

A list of common errors picture book writers make.

The #1 culprit of Why Pitch Paragraphs in Adult or Children’s SF&F Query Letters Miss

As well as outlining the number one culprit of rejection of science fiction and fantasy book queries, agent Kristen also includes a list of the top ten reasons why SF&F query letters get rejected.

Top 25 Reasons Your Submissions Are Rejected

A list of reasons why agents and publishers reject writers’ submissions.

Does Your Book Have Series Potential?

This post was a lead-in to a scribechat that took place in early October, so the topic of whether your book has series potential isn’t discussed in this post. It does however have a handy little list describing the different types of series that exist.

Good luck to everyone participating in NaNoWriMo this year. For me it starts tomorrow! I’ll keep you updated on my progress throughout November.