The-Art-of-Writing-Query-Letters-for-Writers-Chatting-

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The art of writing is in many beautiful forms and colors.

 

The reason that I started this page is for those of us who want to write – write – write. It is also a page for homeschoolers who are teaching their children how to query their own writing . So having said that please bare this in mind. Most query letters are not X-rated (LOL) unless you are querying an agent for erotica or heavy romance. 

So, here is my reason for starting this page. It is to learn through your experiences of writing queries whether they are positive or negative. We learn through our mistakes and I will share my mistakes, as well, as my accomplishments. My first query, I misspelled a  word. I heard from that agent, but I was embarrassed about the misspelled word… Oh, well… She looked beyond  my misspelled word and that is  unusual. 

Below is what I wrote on my wall and why I want to share freely with my writing friends.

I received another response from a query letter that I sent out regarding my latest novel…and that was a nice surprise. 

It is because Author Susan Joyner-Stumpf, RHYTHM AND MUSE ARTIST SPOTLIGHT, https://susanjoynerstumpf.wordpress.com/meet-poet-susan-joyner-stumpf/, and I were thinking about giving tips to writers about writing query letters, and Susan publishes poetry books. 

The query letter is as important as your novel. It sells you and your novel on one (1) typed page and no more lest your letter be thrown out.There is an online class that you can take by webinar that is put on by a literal agent; however, it is costly ~ $700.00 for 5 lessons. I took the first webinar class and it was, for the most part,  a review of the information that I had read and researched prior to the class.

So, if anyone is interested in learning and discussing the “how to,” write one. Then please let me know. I’ve read 3 books and picked many minds about the in and outs of the proper way to write them.

I’ve only sent 5 out to agents but have received 2 responses from the 5 so I must be doing something right. It is customary not to receive any responses for years or for several (like hundreds) of querying.

If you are interested in having an online chat with each other, learning as we go, then let me know…

I’m starting to work FT with 75% traveling, so a set time will be next to impossible except on weekends and evenings, but I’m still interested in learning so that I’m not spinning my wheels like many of you know so well. This is a learning chat. 

 

 

Please visit and join my FB site. Thank you and write – write – write… 

https://www.facebook.com/The-Art-of-Writing-Query-Letters-for-Writers-Chatting-1803609986545421/

 

My intro on my FB page:

You are a writer (I need new glasses… my eyesight wrote water instead of writer and thats why we need each other!).

When you are so compelled to write that the desire is so strong that nothing can stop you. Most writers are not on The New York Times best sellers list. They are your neighbors, your children, and are abundant. It is stated that four out of five people want to write their stories. The competition is huge, but it’s generally friendly and supportive to all writers because we understand the compelling force that drives one to write whether it’s poetry or stories, lyrics to screenplays.

Number two:

First I want to tell you that you Do Not have to buy a book on Literay agents. With a little research by surfing the web, you can find free listings; HOWEVER, (underlined and in BOLD understanding) always verify the agents name and address and what their genre is. 

This is rule number one… The agents will immediately throw your work into file 13 (the trash) if you haven’t cared enough about them to research their genre and something about them. Your editor/agent wants to have a working relationship with you. This is important. Do your research.

Number three:

This is a web site that wants you to pay for his book; however, he is kind enough to post some of the literary agents. It will be up to you to check whether or not the agent is still employed at that literary house and you can do that research by going to the agencies web site and seeing their agents names. That agent will post their specific genre’s. 

http://literaryagencies.com/members/pg/69/

 

Number four: And this is a repeat from above so, here it is again. Feel free to skip number four… 

The reason that I started this page is for those of us who want to write, write, write. It is also a page for homeschoolers who are teaching their children how to query their own writing. So having said that please bare this in mind. Most query letters are not X-rated (LOL) unless you are querying an agent for erotica or heavy romance. 

So, here is my reason for starting this page. It is to learn through your experiences of writing queries whether they are positive or negative. We learn through our mistakes and I will share my mistakes, as well, as my accomplishments. My first query, I misspelled a word. I heard from that agent, but I was embarrassed about the misspelled word… Oh, well… She looked beyond it and that is unusual. 

Below is what I wrote on my wall and why I want to share freely with my writing friends.

I received another response from a query letter that I sent out regarding my latest novel… Author Susan Joyner-Stumpf and I were thinking about giving tips to writers about writing query letters. The query letter is as important as your novel. It sells you and your novel on one (1) typed page and no more lest your letter be thrown out.There is an online class that you can take by webinar that is put on by a literal agent: however, it is costly ~ $700.00 for 5 lessons. So, if anyone is interested in learning and discussing the “how to,” write one. then please let me know. I’ve read 3 books and picked many minds about the in and outs of the proper way to write them. I’ve only sent 5 out to agents but have received 2 responses from the 5 so I must be doing something right. It is customary not to receive any responses for years or for several (like hundreds) of querying. If you are interested in having an online chat with each other, learning as we go, then let me know… I’m starting to work FT with 75% traveling, so a set time will be next to impossible accept on weekends and evenings, but I’m still interested in learning so that I’m not spinning my wheels like many of you know so well.

 

Number five:

I’ve had to correct much of my spelling errors (lol) on my WordPress page and here… My eyesight is horrific but soon will be getting a new eyeglass prescription! Yea! Thats exciting to be able to see and hopefully spell…

 

Number six:

So, this is where I found my 5 literary agents to query. On this website it will show the agents picture, a little bio and what their genre is for accepting query letters. Some of the agents do take poetry; however, Susan and Deborah publish poetry and most of you know both of them. 

Your assignment will be to go through this list and select 5 agents that suits your writing style. Also, please look at the books they’ve published and notice if their publications match you and your style. Keep in mind when you write your query letter you will mention who you think that your writing style matches and why you think so, in one sentence. I underline one sentence because you only have one page to query. Remember anymore pages than one will be more than likely discarded.

Always be polite.

 

 
Welcome message… 7 Insider Secrets to Get a Top Agent, Publisher, and Book Deal (65 minutes) Press the play button below now to listen or click here to download the file (left-click or right-click the link, then select “Save Link As”). Click here to view and/or download a free PDF transcript of this…
LITERARYAGENCIES.COM
 
 
Number seven:
 

When I listened to the free webinar on how to write effective query letters, I was amazed at how many writers never knew about having to query agents. 

So, here are some things to ask yourself and I must admit, I’m still asking myself: What is my book or poetry about? What is the core belief or genre that I’m writing from or what point of view does it arise from? Such as, is it spiritual, is my writing romance, horror, Christian, Islamic, or from what belief was it written? 

These are still hard questions that at times I still ask myself. I must ask people who have read my novel their opinions. Sometimes writers just write and are unaware of the point of perspective their work deflects. 

I wish that I had taken notes about the purpose of the novel or what it was that I was trying to convey to my audience, but hindsight is 20/20…

 

 

Number eight:

One other tidbit from the query webinar (number one ) was this question was raised and was what I had been wondering about. I know many writers ask this same question.

If I self publish, is my writing eliminated automatically from publishing houses?

I think about this often and have been reluctant to self publish. But the first agent that contacted me about my novel was first of all wanting 95% of the royalties for a $20.00 book and 7% of a $14.00 book and 3% of a $7.00 book… YIKES! Thats not worth it to me and by the way she was from a large publishing house so self publishing was more desirable than giving away a novel that I’ve worked on for 6 years. Also, when she found out that I put a copy-write on my book she was then hesitant and reluctant. In fact she said, “Oh, no you don’t have one.” And, I didn’t know what she meant and was stumped by her statement. 

The réponse from the literary agent who gave the webinar was somewhat vague. However, she did say things are changing somewhat. She also added, if your written work has been on FB or has had any internet exposure you as the writer need to be upfront because there are some legal factors that will be involved. 

One factor is who owns the copyright? Major publishing houses want the unblemished copyright and once its published even on FB, it’s published, so be careful. She also added that some publishers will work around this situation, but the major publishers are still skittish and she didn’t state which ones that she was referring to.

 

Number nine:

If anyone has any experience in writing query letters to agents or publishers please feel free to share your insights with us. Pretty-please…

 

Number ten:

So, you have finished your manuscript and it’s been edited a few thousand times, and of course I’m exaggerating, but many eyes (that you trust to tell you honestly) have read it and has helped you to make changes to better your story, punctuation, grammar and spelling, etc, and now you’re ready to find your agent… This is when it’s time to look for the agent. Simon and Schuster will not accept manuscripts directly. You must have an agent, so better get looking. 

Find the agent that fits you and your genre. Query one time to the agents office. If she/he thinks your story is better suited for another agent in that office, then the agent will hand over the manuscript to another agent. Feel proud at this moment because that means the first agent read enough of it, and was thoughtful enough, to put your prize manuscript into the possible right agent…

 

Number eleven:

The role of your editor and they all do different services. Know what they do and will do for you. Important!  Always get a contract. Some editors check grammar and spelling while others help strengthen your story. Ask before you two begin. Know what you want and need. Be clear and specific.

Before your manuscript is ready for submission to an agent, as I stated in the last post, you should have found an editor. Each editor does different things for you and you hire them according to the services they provide. You will give them a word count and it depends on your computer writing system such as IBooksAuthor (which I use on a MAC) or Word. IBooksAuthor on Mac always gives a lesser page count than Word. And, Word will run 200 pages + IBooksAuthor. I don’t know why, but it does and varies hugely, so go by word count. 

I want to talk about my first editor Sara who is an adjunct professor of English at a college in Tennessee. Sara was more of a dramaturg and took my novel (2013) from 125 pages to over 500. Her role was awesome as she picked my mind to tell her more about the story. She asked for more description and I found that after I finished with her services, that was written in a contract for one year. In that year ‘s time, she read the whole novel three times and made suggestions and returned the book to me. Then I corrected and wrote more about her questions or suggestions. Then she read and suggested more, and then again, I corrected, then she did a finale edit and the year was finished. We talked on the phone during that year very few times as her time was limited since she was a professor and I had strict times to call her, if I needed to ask a question and that was always after her church times on Sunday afternoons. Sara was extremely organized and professional. 

Everyone needs an editor initially like Sara and I can’t thank her enough for bringing the story to life. I was not telling the story any longer, but the story told it’s own story. When she finished with the three edits, she said, “This book is far from being finished. You will need more and more eyes on it. It’s not publishable, yet.” 

I knew she was telling me the honest truth. So then, my daughter read it and made her suggestion and was more of a grammar, spelling and punctuation editor. I also read it ~ again (for about the 10th time). 

I have read my novel at least 25 to 30 times at this point and I know the story fairly well. You see, stories tell their story and the author is like a channeler. We listen and write, we listen and write and the story might not ever end until it ends itself. The author is a vessel or a medium for sensing a story that wants to be told. The author simply listens and writes. Stories often don’t recognize time such as present tenses or past tenses and the story gets conbolulated in chaos and the editor helps the writer sort out the chaos and mess that earthly time demands of writers through the use of proper grammar and editors sort the mess out by asking questions that are often confusing. The writer must summon the characters in the story to ask what time was that when that happen> How old were you? What year was that? Who was present? Etc, you get the point? 

So, then I had and still have two more editors. Each editor does something different. 

The costs vary and I went to a NY editor once and he read the first chapter. He praised my work (so far) however to finish the editing would be ~ $5,000.00 and people, from a NYC editor, thats cheap. They run up into the $20,000.00+ range. 

Where to find editors? Ask around. Check your local colleges English department and ask if there is an English major who might be interested in editing your manuscript. They charge by word and it’s usually around $0.29 (cents/word). My manuscript has roughly 149,000 words x 29 cents = (I rounded my word count to 150,000 words to include citations and wrap ups) $4,300.00 … and the cost is WAY OVER MY BUDGET! Forty-three hundred dollars! So, I keep searching…But this is the average cost. So the NYC editor is reasonable compared to the next college professor that I selected. 

Bottom line, editing isn’t cheap. 

By the way in case you’re wondering, editors use editors…. 🙂

 
 
 
 
Number twelve:

 

So ~ Now, that you understand that editing services are costly, and you also understand that editors use editors, and that editing is a MUST, and you’ve completed the editing cycle then you are ready for an agent. Your search for the right agent begins. 

Remember: Find the literary agent that fits you genre. Do your homework. Search the web on Google ‘Images’ for the way to set up your query letter. See link for an example. You can also find templates on WORD, or IBooksAuthor and use them. 

Just google query letter images and it will give you many pictures of the right and wrong way that you should set up your query letter. 

Try this picture that I captured and notice that its one page only..

http://awesomescreenshot.com/0366500ged

 
IMAGES.GOOGLE.COM
 
 
 
 Number thirteen:
 
Earlier, I explained that I have queried 5 literary agents and of the 5, I’ve received 2 responses that were positive. Keep in mind a literary agent can receive 1,000 queries per day. They usually contact the author within 3 months, if they like what you’ve written. However, (usually) you will not receive any confirmation since they get 1,000/day.
 
Here’s what you will need to have written and edited before you contact the agent. They are all different and ask for different things for submission and they will tell you on their website.
 
I always submit by online services. By mail is totally different than on line guidelines. Be sure to read, read, read their submission rules. Again, all are very different.
 
Normally have ready:
#1 Your query letter.
#2 A short bio. (one page)
#3 A synopsis of story (a couple of pages) READ THEIR GUIDELINES FOR SUBMISSION!
#4 Be prepared to send them at least 3 chapters.
 
They may ask for the entire manuscript, but so far, the agents that I have queried have asked for chapters 1, 2, and 3. One asked for the entire manuscript. Or have asked for the first 50 pages.
 
Each are different and please follow their guidelines. The agents say, if you don’t follow their guidelines then your manuscript will be trashed and don’t query until 6 months later or whenever they say to re-submit.
 
They are sticklers for doing things the right way so be prepared.
ALL ARE DIFFERENT, so read their guidelines. 
Number fourteen:
Hypothetically, if I was a literary agent receiving 1,000 queries per day and the first thing I read is my name misspelled or the wrong genre, then that query would be discarded. (sad face ~ all that work only to be thrown n file 13).
However, If I receive a 1,000 queries per day and I’ve read that my name was correct and the genre is right then I might begin to read the writers opening or hook.
 
The opening has a hook in it that grabs the agent more than the other 999 queries she/he received on Monday morning or on any other day where she has another 1000 queries on my desk. The agent has received 5,000 per week and the writers query must be better than all the queries she has read for over a period of time (maybe even a year or so. They don’t publish all writers, even if, they get past the excellent query letter the writer composed.)
 
The Hook: The reason she/he is absolutely compelled to keep reading the writers submission query. Let’s say she/he got through the entire query letter. She/he is okay with what was read and maybe the writer made her/he laugh or the writer connected with the agent because the writer did their homework and found a matching characteristic or a similarity between the agent and the writer.
 
On the agents bio she/he may have their blog where the query writer can visit and read and find that binding commonality that causes the agent to want to continue reading the writers bio, synopsis and the agent might request more chapters… But, be real, don’t just create a commonality. Phoniness will eventually shine through and is deceitful. Have integrity while finding your reasons for querying this agent. 
 
If I was the literary agent then the query letter might refer to the fact that I love animals and so do they, or the writer may have visited my WordPress blog and found a poem that I wrote that made them feel or connect to me because ~ And here is where the writer of the query uses one or two sentences to state that connection. Example: “I loved your poem called ‘Going Home.’ I related to returning home like The Parodical Son.” Don’t elaborate too much as you have one page to query.
 
Do you see and read and understand what I’m writing about? You must find (do your research) that common core that will create a lasting working kindred relationship (that your agent wants) for the length of your writing career.

Happy writing and I hope I’ve helped you, as much as, I have helped myself by organizing and by understanding the art of writing query letters. The very best to all writers. 

 

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