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Apr 08 2016

#atozchallenge G is for Getting Published #WriteTip #query @carlywatters

The craft of fiction writing is the Theme for the #atozchallenge 2016 on the blog of @JLenniDorner
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26 writing reference books containing 26 lessons leads to a month of #WriteTips and writing samples




Rabbit with a pancake on his head image

G is for “Getting”
Book: Getting Published in the 21st Century: Advice from a Literary Agent by Carly Watters
@carlywatters
My dice roll: 964
Lesson: 6 Tips to Make Your Query Stand Out

1- Include something personal about the agent you’re querying. Do you follow his blog? Did one of her tweets lead you to query? Are you familiar with other works the agent represents?

2- Only query agents who represent your genre.

3- Keep the query to one page.

4- For debut writers, state why you wrote the book. Also briefly mention any short story publication.

5- Charisma, humor, or personality— be yourself, but keep it professional.

6- Spell check!

Obviously I can’t do the first two without finding an agent interested in urban fantasy.

Well, it seems that I found two! The first is in Australia, and the second is a writer.

http://lakewaterpress.com/index.php/submissions/

Sharon: I’m open to any genre as long as it has an amazing voice. I adore stories that are a bit weird and quirky. I have a real soft spot for Speculative Fiction, but I also love soulful contemporaries and humorous stories. My favourite thing is to be surprised; so even if your story is not specifically on my wish list, try me. You just might surprise me.

I believe Erin’s books sound similar to mine.
http://www.erinrhewbooks.com/the-fulfillment-series.html

A girl living a tranquil existence is allegedly the key to peace. She’s supposed to marry someone, but love is a big issue in that relationship. Another guy loves her, but wants to resist acting on that so she’ll stay safe. The girl must choose between the two, for the fate of the population hangs in the balance.

http://www.bookfishbooks.com/#!submissions/c1d94

The actual submission page adds this information:

There is no need to address the submission to a specific editor as all queries are read by each member of our team.

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(potential) QUERY TO SHARON

Powerful beings must ally to fight against an apocalypse-bringing sect. Xavier, the leader, has a public identity of an affluent young NYC professional. While playing an online game, he finds Gwendolyn, the missing one of his kind. The sheltered Californian wallflower has no idea that she’s more than human. When Xavier puts her temporary happiness above the fate of the world, it’s up to Gwendolyn to break free of her shell and brave the unknown before it’s too late.

Fractions of Existence is a 90,000-word speculative fiction that intends to leave readers asking the buzz-worthy question, “What are they?” It will appeal to adult fans of books such as “Elementals: The Prophecy of Shadows” by Michelle Madow.

Many ancient civilizations share similar legends with one another, despite having never met. The story-keepers of the Lenni-Lenape tribe that I descend from shared a legend with me that explains this phenomenon. I weaved fantasy with that lore to unhinge your mind. My years of online gaming experience lend credibility to the scenes where Xavier and Gwendolyn go by the handles Monoghan and Candra. I was a Penn State Honors and Scholars student who majored in English and Communication. My most recent publication credits are The Creative Writing Institute’s “WRONG!: A themed anthology 2014,” winning the Write Edit Publish Now flash fiction “Youthful Frights versus Adult Fears” Halloween challenge 2015, and a forthcoming anthology publication from Signum University’s Mythgard Institute’s “Almost an Inkling” contest, where I was a popular vote winner.

I found you through your March 10, 2016 #MSWL tweet.

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(potential) QUERY TO ERIN

Powerful beings must ally to fight against an apocalypse-bringing sect. Xavier, the leader, has a public identity of an affluent twenty-something NYC professional. While playing an online game, he finds Gwendolyn, the missing one of his kind. College student Gwendolyn “Wend” Wright lives a tranquil, devout existence as a wallflower in California. Her father arranges her marriage to an older man named Tred. The relationship is based on Gwendolyn’s childcare experience, because what Tred needs is a nanny, not a wife— but he’s settling. Wend and Xavier’s relationship goes from online gaming to a real-life date.

Xavier says that Tred can give her a simple, normal life where she’ll be safe (for now). Gwendolyn can choose to stay with Tred, or she can break free of her shell and brave the unknown to track Xavier down. Little does she know, only uniting with Xavier, and the others of their kind will possibly prevent the apocalypse.

Fractions of Existence is a new adult 90,000-word speculative fiction that intends to leave readers asking the buzz-worthy question, “What are they?”

Many ancient civilizations share similar legends with one another, despite having never met. The story-keepers of the Lenni-Lenape tribe that I descend from shared a legend with me that explains this phenomenon. I weaved fantasy with that lore to unhinge your mind. My years of online gaming experience lend credibility to the scenes where Xavier and Gwendolyn go by the handles Monoghan and Candra. I was a Penn State Honors and Scholars student who majored in English and Communication. My most recent publication credits are The Creative Writing Institute’s “WRONG!: A themed anthology 2014,” winning the Write Edit Publish Now flash fiction “Youthful Frights versus Adult Fears” Halloween challenge 2015, and a forthcoming anthology publication from Signum University’s Mythgard Institute’s “Almost an Inkling” contest, where I was a popular vote winner.

I found you through your February 11, 2016 #MSWL tweet.

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Which query letter do you like more?

Should the query specifically mention that Xavier and Gwendolyn meet in a MMORPG chat, or define that as an online gamer chatroom? Or is the line “My years of online gaming experience lend credibility to the scenes where Xavier and Gwendolyn go by the handles Monoghan and Candra” enough explanation?

Preview from LETTER W:

In Fractions of Existence, Xavier needs to reunite his kind, but he doesn’t know where to look or why they’re separated. He needs them to reunite in time to prevent the apocalypse. He changes his mind when he gets to know Gwendolyn, the missing one he sought, who has no idea what she is. He decides he’d rather let the world end than risk Gwendolyn’s happiness by ripping her life apart. The second half is about Gwendolyn leaving her life to be with Xavier and her struggle to get there. She crosses the country alone, still unaware of what she is, to reach a man she’s not even sure still wants her there— a journey that requires her to climb out of her shell.

Do you think any of that should be in one or both of the query letters?



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40 comments

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  1. anna

    Oh the bunny with the pancake. I’m so going to have to use that at some point. lol
    anna has this post to share A Reckless Desire (Breconridge Brothers #3) by Isabella BradfordMy Profile

    1. J Lenni Dorner

      Enjoy the image. Found it on Facebook.
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  2. LilyElement

    Sounds like good advice to make your query stand out! 😀

    1. J Lenni Dorner

      Thanks.
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  3. Kala Ravi

    I don’t think much of both queries honestly! Does one have to necessarily include that kind of info in the letter?
    Kala Ravi has this post to share Going green starts at homeMy Profile
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    1. J Lenni Dorner

      I’d love LOVE LOVE to hear another idea. I can write novels, short stories, poems, and essays — no problem. But query letters are my writer’s block. My Ahchilies heal. I’d seriously welcome input if you know more on the topic. What you see here is $500 worth of books, classes, lessons, and donation-auction-contests. I can’t claim it’s a good query.
      Honestly, I’m thinking of going indie because I’d rather spend my time and money on marketing than on query letters. I’m better at that.
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  4. Annette Harris

    Hi, I happened to finally visit your blog! So, good morning and have a great day!
    Best Wishes,
    Annette

    My A2Z @ Annette’s Place | Follow Me On Twitter
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    1. J Lenni Dorner

      Great to have you!
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  5. Scarlett Braden

    Very helpful advice, but from what I’m hearing about the new publishing contracts I have no desire to be trad published. Indie all the way for me.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog!
    @ScarlettBraden from
    Frankly Scarlett<
    Scarlett Braden has this post to share
    G is for the Grants #atozchallengeMy Profile

    1. J Lenni Dorner

      I can’t argue with that! But this book had a letter G.
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  6. Kathleen Valentine

    After years of mucking about and wasting a lot of time with trad publishing, I went indie. But you make good and useful points. Thanks.

    Meet My Imaginary Friends
    #AtoZchallenge http://www.kathleenvalentineblog.com/
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    1. J Lenni Dorner

      There’s a good chance I will, too. But I needed a book for letter G, and this title worked.
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  7. C.Lee McKenzie

    I think you should send the bunny with the pancake on its head. 🙂

    Actually, no. I don’t think that. But if I were querying I’d start with your amazing credentials and publications. Then go for the deets on the book. However, that’s just my take.

    I rather like #2.
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    1. J Lenni Dorner

      8 out of 10 “how to query” “experts” prefer this order. If you knew how many drafts I have… more attempts at learning query letters than drafts of the actual novel. Yikes.
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      1. C.Lee McKenzie

        The one that landed me an agent was the one in which I put my credits up front. That’s all I’m basing my comment on. If I’d had the bunny with the pancake, I think I would have signed with an agent sooner.
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        1. J Lenni Dorner

          I’ve considered just sending hot guys that look like Xavier and Heath. Ha ha ha.
          If each agent outlined which order they prefer, that’d be great. You landed one of the few that wants credits first. So hard to know what someone likes! I can’t even guess what beverage people will want. LOL.
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  8. Ella

    Great advice! Thank you-so much!

    I love all that you shared~
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    1. J Lenni Dorner

      Glad you enjoyed the post.
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  9. Ellen

    I’m not quite at this stage yet, but am fascinated to learn more about what’s involved in getting published. Almost seems more daunting than writing a novel 🙂

    Cheers – Ellen | http://thecynicalsailor.blogspot.com/2016/04/g-is-for-grounding-nancy-drew.html
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    1. J Lenni Dorner

      I agree with that!
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  10. Seeya

    Thanks for visiting my blog. Will go through your blog.
    Yes I loved the writing challenge so far. Had taken up self challenge once during December month last year so I had idea. For this challenge I was well prepared with theme so I am not finding it that tough.

    Do keep reading my posts.
    As for reading other blogs, I keep a day for it.
    Seeya has this post to share Grab The Opportunity, Ideas GaloreMy Profile

    1. J Lenni Dorner

      Cool. Thanks for dropping by.
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  11. Joy

    Thanks for your advise!

    Joy @ The Joyous Living
    Joy has this post to share G: Getting Through the DayMy Profile
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    1. J Lenni Dorner

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post.
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  12. Yolanda Renee

    You’re creating a great resource for all writers. Well done!
    Thanks for visiting my blog.

    Happy A to Z ing! Yay, Sunday’s almost here! 🙂
    Ninga Minion @YolandaRenee from
    Parallels
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    1. J Lenni Dorner

      I’m trying! 🙂
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  13. Yvonne V

    Good luck with your queries!

    Yvonne V
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    1. J Lenni Dorner

      Thanks.
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  14. Jean Davis

    I hate writing query letters. Boiling a story that we’re way to close to, down into an enticing paragraph or two that makes sense to someone else is pure torture. I’d much rather be writing short stories or novels. I vote we just send the bunny picture instead. 🙂

    Ok, seriously though, neither of those opening paragraphs grabbed me. The first one has the beginnings of the details that might grab me if clarified a little more. Focus on the basics. Xavier needs to prevent the apocalypse by reuniting with another of his kind so they can do what? What stands in his way? Same for Gwendolyn.

    Using your other paragraph, here are the main points I’m lost on.
    In Fractions of Existence, Xavier needs to reunite his kind (what are his kind?) to prevent the apocalypse, but he doesn’t know where to look or why they’re separated. He changes his mind (about what?) when he gets to know Gwendolyn, the missing one (one? the opening sentence implies he needs more than one) he sought, who has no idea what she is. He decides he’d rather let the world end than risk Gwendolyn’s happiness by ripping her life apart (umm, wouldn’t the world ending also be a dampener on her happiness?). The second half (second half of what?) is about Gwendolyn leaving her life to be with Xavier and her struggle to get there (get her where?). She crosses the country alone, still unaware of what she is, to reach a man she’s not even sure still wants her there— a journey that requires her to climb out of her shell.
    Discarded Darlings

    1. J Lenni Dorner

      Xavier needs to prevent the apocalypse by reuniting with another of his kind so they can do what? What stands in his way? Same for Gwendolyn.

      As more of his kind come together, they are able to remember more of what they are, and thus how to do what they do. So it’s a power up. (Think Voltron, but without robots and outer space. The people were good warriors. The cats made them better warriors. Forming Voltron made them super powerful and able to defeat all the villains. Same principle. WAY too “rambly” for a query.)

      What stands in his way (in book 1) is that he had no idea where on Earth she was. He didn’t know who she’d be. Or if she was even alive right now. He’s just sure that she existed at some point, and therefore probably exists now, and thus he searches for little clues. Then he finally finds her. But she’s happy. And he doesn’t know why she left their group– he can’t remember. He doesn’t want to mess up her life, he doesn’t want to make her unhappy. She’s normal, she has no idea about what’s coming. “And I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” – The Great Gatsby

      What stands in Wend’s way is that she has no idea that she’s anything special/ extraordinary/ more-than-human. She doesn’t know there’s an apocalypse, or that she’d be hunted if a certain other group figured out what she is. Then she’s engaged, and that’s a whole mess. And Xavier is a stranger. But she crosses the country anyway, hitting roadblocks as she goes.

      There’s no way to put what his kind are in a query. It takes up several chunks of books two, and the answer still isn’t clear, because they disagree on it.
      He changes his mind about pulling Gwendolyn into all this.
      Yes, he thinks he’s only 1 short. He’s wrong.
      Would the world ending put a damper on happiness? I suppose that depends if you’d rather die fighting or just suddenly be dead. She’d get time to be happy. It’s possible the world would end while she’s dancing on a hillside reacting The Sound of Music. She doesn’t know the world might end because she left. She doesn’t know there have been wars before because she wasn’t there. He doesn’t want to tell her. I’m not saying it’s a good call, it’s just what he does. Believe me, if Heath were in Xavier’s place, he’d rip the bandage off. “Sorry you think you’re normal. You aren’t. I’m gonna chuck you off this cliff to prove it. Then you’re gonna come fight beside me. Cool? Good.” And that’s why Heath isn’t in charge. Ha ha.

      Second half of the book. There being NYC.

      I really have no idea how to say all that in a query. I’d love more help if you have time. (Or anyone out there.)
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      1. J Lenni Dorner

        Prince Charming got a whole glass slipper and knew Cinderella lived in his kingdom. Xavier has 7 billion people and a whole planet, doesn’t know what she looks like (isn’t even sure if she’ll be female), and has no slipper. It’s a wee bit harder. Ha ha ha.
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        1. Jean Davis

          It sounds like you need to step back and think more about the big picture for the query. If you haven’t yet written a short synopsis, that would be a good place to start boiling down the important points of the book so you know what to fit into the query. Honestly, I start with the long synopsis, then boil down to the short and then to the query pargraph(s) and logline. If you’d like to shoot me an email, I’d be happy to help further. jeandavis71 at gmail dot com.

          1. J Lenni Dorner

            I REALLY appreciate that!
            Is it okay if I hang on to this until after the challenge? If your April is anything like mine, our attention is at half-mast at best on anything not A to Z this month.
            I have a synopsis, but I need to edit/revise it. I wrote it after an earlier draft. It still has information from an old opening.
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          2. Jean Davis

            After April works for me. If you want to shoot me the synopsis, that would be helpful.

  15. Ronel Janse van Vuuren

    Check out subitclub on wordpress, the writers in the storm blog on wordpress, and the bookends literary agency blog for examples of query letters that worked (and other publishing industry info).
    Good luck querying. And good luck with the rest of the AtoZchallenge.
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    1. J Lenni Dorner

      Thanks!
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  16. Nilanjana Bose

    Your posts are too important to read during the A-Z! I’ll have to come back later and go through them properly with my head stuck on. You are putting together a whole body of tips/resources for writers.

    Query letters are way too difficult to write! Don’t blame anybody for getting the writers block when it comes to writing them.

    Thanks so much for visiting my blog.

    Best wishes,
    Nilanjana.
    Ninja Minion, A-Z 2016
    Madly-in-Verse
    Nilanjana Bose has this post to share H is for Henry….the HeighthMy Profile

    1. J Lenni Dorner

      At this point, I just want to be able to write one well. It’s not even about the end result anymore. I’ve never failed at writing something. Cooking, yes. There have been fires. Evil has come from the stove. But writing? No, this bothers.
      “Hi, I don’t care if you want to be my agent or have interest in my book. Can you please just teach me how to make this query letter not suck?”
      That sounds really stupid.
      G is obviously the lesson letter I’ve worked on the most.
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  17. JazzFeathers

    The second one is definitely the best, in my opinion. A lot more details. In the first, I didn’t really know what the story is about. The second defines plot and characters very well.

    Query letters are a writer’s hell. I’ve written… oh, I dont’ don’t how many versions of mine. Next time I’ll query… I’ll write some more new versions 😉

    @JazzFeathers
    The Old Shelter – Jazz Age Jazz
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    1. J Lenni Dorner

      I would like to be able to write 1 well, just to say that I did it. Like climbing a mountain just because it’s there.
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