Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Highlights from 2015

  • Ending my second term of successful querying. I never gave up. 
  • Ending my second term of querying with a whopping 30 requests and multiple offers of representation. 
  • Ending my second term of querying by signing with the hard-working and knowledgeable Miriam Kriss from the Irene Goodman Agency. 
  • Leaping into multiple offers of publication. 
  • Attending the RT convention for the first time, which included meeting Miriam in person, hanging out with one of my close friends, Anna Banks, and meeting so many incredible people, and of course the swag. 
  • Spending a month with my family in TX. 
  • Connecting with my writing posse with the most wonderful Marissa Meyer, Rori Shay, Lish McBride, and Kimberly Derting, all amazing authors and super kind women. 
  • I completed one manuscript; revised another; wrote a third from idea seedling to polished and turned in to agent; and outlined two others ready to be tackled in 2016. 
  • Sold our house. 
  • Moved to Hawaii! 
  • Made some wonderful new and encouraging friends. 
  • Finding work (with some great people, might I add...I think I've been fortunate to always have some great co-workers and management) and a place to live...because as it turns out, it's not so easy here in Hawaii! FYI, apartments are non-existent on this side of the island!
  • Enjoyed many of the marvelous and beautiful things Hawaii has to offer, some awe-inspiring, breath-taking, and absolutely moving. 
  • Despite the low number, but considering all the things that happened in 2015, checking off 20 books on my every-growing TBR list. 
  • Receiving a care package full of treats from India, plus home-made treats straight from my Mom’s kitchen, is an especially delightful ending to the year. 
I know 2016 is going to produce some great things. There is already so much in the works and I can’t wait to fill you in! Announcements galore!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Writing Tips: Pitch Perfect

 Submitting a query via mail/email is a formal way to get an agent/editor's attention, often times referred to as the "cold query". It consists of a formula, specific information the agent/editor needs to know. A pitch, on the other hand, can be informal and usually in person.

 A pitch has to grab the agent/editor's attention and make them want more. It should reveal genre, target audience, and plot/conflict...but in a hook type fashion. Meaning, you're not just going to say it's point A, point B, and point C. Think of a back cover blurb, but even more condensed. If you can do it in a concise sentence or two, even better. Make it original and high-concept, not cliche and difficult to explain.

  The "elevator pitch" is something you can approach an agent/editor with anywhere, anytime. You have ten seconds to grab their attention, give them an amazing pitch about your book, and make them ask for more.

  The "pitch-session" is slightly more formal, often done at conventions where you can make an appointment or walk in, sit in front of an agent/editor, and give them your pitch.

  In any case, be prepared to answer questions. A few common things an agent/editor might ask about is your writing background, if you're working on something else, what genres do you write, where did you get your idea from, is your book finished (don't panic if it's not yet, but best for it to be ready in case they want it asap), who are your favorite authors/authors who inspire you, where do you see your future as a writer (are you a serious writer/want a serious career as a writer or a dream chaser who can't sit down and do the work), and what sort of writer are you (fast writer who can pump out three great novels a year, slow pace where it takes you three years to create a work of art, do you go after plot-driven or character-driven novels, etc).

  Some extra tips:
  Practice your pitch out loud and with others. When others ask what your book is about, and many will once they find out that you're a writer, perfect your pitch. Ask for opinions and help from others, including authors and critique partners.

  Research how your favorite authors pitched their books, where agent/editors are taking pitch sessions, what genres those agents/editors accept.

  Don't worry, just relax. Be yourself.

  Be honest. If the agent/editor wants a full, and you're not done, let them know that you'll get it them as soon as you can. Don't lead them on. They might just be super excited and haunt their emails for your amazing pitch-led ms.

  If you have a pitch session appointment, don't bail. Just do it. And if you're going to try this at random, like actually in an elevator, make sure you're talking to the right person and that they aren't in a hurry to get somewhere fast. There's a place and a time, and if they're in a hurry, they might not register your amazing pitch, and you both deserve a real chance at clicking over the ms.

  Here are a few tips from my agent on Writer's Digest. Many requests (and offers) come from pitches, sessions as well as informally, so be prepared and don't be shy. You're trying to get your awesome work into the hands of talented agents/editors. They're looking for you. Don't leave them hanging.

  And when you snag that agent/editor, don't forsake your mad pitching skills because you'll pitch ideas for future works to them.

  Happy writing!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Writing Tips: Blurb's the Word

 If you look up the definition of a “blurb”, you’ll find that it’s a short description of a book (or movie or product) used for promotional purposes and is usually located on the back of the book or inside the front jacket cover, or an advertisement. It is a simple one or two paragraph summary that will hook a reader.

 A blurb introduces main characters, clear conflicts, and sets up the world, and by doing this, the reader should be able to determine the genre, age group, and central theme. It’s sole purpose is to snag a reader with a tantalizing sneak peak into a must-read book and make them buy and read right this minute. It’s short and sweet and has to stand out because there are a lot of books potential readers can pick from. Stimulate interest. Whet a reader’s appetite. Have an amazing, punchy opening first line. Essentially, don’t let a prospective reader pass by without taking your book.

 What not to do? Don’t be cliche, give away spoilers or endings, summarize too much, brag, mention anything outside of the story, be wordy, flowery, or go into details.

 Read blurbs from your favorite books and bestsellers to get an idea of how to write yours. Run it by readers and writers, critique partners or beta readers to get second opinions. And, although blurbs are meant for the cover of a book to engage readers, it’s essential to the query letter to attract agents/editors, to get their attention at pitch sessions or any in-person encounter, and simply, to explain to anyone who wants to know what your book is about. Blurbs come in handy. And if you can’t put together the entirety of your books into a few sentences or a couple of paragraphs, it (and by it, I mean either your manuscript/idea/plot as a whole or your blurb in general) needs some polishing.

 I personally like writing blurbs. They’re fun and exciting, and in my head, they sound like trailers to epic big box office movies. Happy writing!