With many literary agents wanting only the first 5-10 pages with a query, those opening pages are crucial to readers and traditional publishing alike. Yet as a critical reader, the main advice I’ve given is to delete or re-write whole paragraphs. To help you reflect upon and edit, or plan and write your opening pages in a clear and engaging way, I’ll unpack 9 reflective questions.
If you’re new to querying, there’s a general structure for query letters, but there are also specifics about which literary agents may have differing personal preferences. In this post, I draw on what I’ve learnt from giving feedback on an estimated thirty queries, and reading a similar number of successful ones, to provide structure and advice on specifics (with tips on how to identify literary agent preferences 😉.)
As a member of a querying writers group, I’ve watched writers wait 6 months to receive full manuscript rejections, or go months without receiving so much as a form rejection for queries. I’ve learned a lot about having realistic expectations and how to tackle the querying process. In this post, I interview some of those writers, with the aim of giving newly querying writers insights into what to expect on your journey, and advice. And to give those of you already on your querying journey a chance to reflect and possibly tweak your approach to querying.
I know of ten parties on twitter to pitch your novel to literary agents and three author mentoring programs, throughout the year. In this post you’ll find links to every pitch party website, a twitter mentoring event, and parties listed by calendar month.
Critique partner and beta reader feedback can be gold, but as editing is a complex task, it can be difficult to decide what exactly you’d like critical readers to comment on, especially in the crucial first chapter. The reflective questions in this post will help guide critical reader feedback (and in some cases self-editing), giving you insight into how engaging, well paced and easy or difficult to follow unfamiliar readers found your opening chapter.
With thousands of pitches set to pour through Twitter’s #Pitmad feed for literary agent and indie publisher perusal on Thursday, its time to tell you everything I know about crafting a quality pitch (illustrated with tweet pitch examples, though advice here also applies to query letter pitches). I’ll also give you advice on preparing for pitch party days, which can be chaotic, stressful and discouraging if you participate on your own.
If you thought writing and editing your novel was the hardest thing you’ve ever done -bad news- writing a query letter which clearly introduces your main character, conflict and stakes isn’t easy. Doing so concisely is harder still. Crafting a query which invites industry professionals to connect with your character and care about their conflict -which overall entices them- may seem impossible -at first. Great query crafting is an art (different to novel writing unfortunately) and requires honing a specific skill set. Luckily, there are many great resources listing the ingredients you need and more importantly -modelling what skillful inclusion of them can look like.
You’ve written your novel. You’ve revised it multiple times. Now you know it so well that you can’t see the forest for the trees. Your mind can fill gaps, plot and character arc holes big enough to park cars (or at least bicycles) in. When you re-read your novel, your subconscious is re-wording convoluted sentences that could tie poor reader up in knots and your authorial bias is skipping over sentences/ paragraphs/ entire scenes which may put readers to sleep. Now you need critical reader feedback, ideally from writers with different strengths and experience to yours, to help develop your knowledge and hone your craft. If you can’t afford an editor, critical reader feedback is your best chance of avoiding premature querying/ publishing. So where do you find effective critical readers?
Like many writers, one of the things I loved about joining Twitter’s #WritingCommunity was the opportunity to discuss the craft and to learn with and from other writers. But as I followed more writers, questions about the business of writing and being an author became difficult to find on my feed. So #StrictlyWriting was born.
To write civilizations comparable to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, I’d need to draw on my double major in archaeology and history to break down every major and minor component of world building. This series of posts will attempt precisely that, and explore how different factors within a world affect and shape each other. This week I’ve paired Food with Fashion, because both are closely linked to plants and animals, all of which is influenced by geography, climate and trade.