Writing Tips

Finding an Agent

As I am walking through this difficult, oops typo, lovely querying process where I am laying my heart on the line and praying it does not get trampled (or worse, left lying there completely ignored with no closure), I figured I would share my experiences, tips, and tricks with any hopeful authors out there! So today, let’s talk about agents.

Do You Need An Agent?

Yes. If you are looking for traditional publishing with the majority of traditional publishing houses. It is extremely rare, in my experience, for publishing houses to welcome unsolicited manuscripts. In other words, publishing houses have become so overwhelmed with new authors that they needed a way to weed through the submissions so that they are only looking at the best of the best. At the most basic level, an agent basically backs your claim and tells the publishing house “yes, this is a good book, you should read it.”

How Do I Find An Agent?

Not all agents are created equal; just as all writers are unique in their own respects. You cannot and should not just mass query dozens of agents hoping that one sticks without doing your research FIRST. Yes, you heard me, research! Many agents have specific requirements for what they are searching for, how to query them, and whether or not they are even accepting queries at the time. If you just find a random listing of agents and hit mass send, your odds of success are nearly zero. (I only say nearly, because, hey, people win the lottery every day).

Here are some steps:

  1. Start by identifying which agents match your books’ needs. Search reputable lists such as: Poets & Writers (which I found recommended from a publishing house I would love to partner with one day). There is also Publisher’s Marketplace & Query Tracker (although it does cost to get all of the benefits of these sites). Of the two, I have found Publisher’s Marketplace to be more user-friendly and filled with great information! Publisher’s Marketplace tends to work better when you have a specific agent in mind that you want more information on. Literary Rambles has some excellent interviews with agents, what they’re looking for, and how to submit! I love that I can “hear” from so many agents about what they are personally looking for.
  2. With every agent, search for key words that match your book (for example, I searched for Young Adult, Fantasy, Fiction). Immediately that took my search from hundreds of agents to dozens. Then I began reading more about the agents to see what type of fiction they were interested in by reading their bios and looking up books they had previously helped the authors get published.
  3. Once you narrow it down, read the agent’s query instructions CAREFULLY. Many agents will bluntly tell you that if you do not follow their instructions, your query will be tossed. Some agents may be on a temporary pause in receiving queries, and once again, straight into the trash your query goes. I know it’s exciting to send your work out into the world, but go slowly, do it correctly, or you may throw away the perfect opportunity.

Questions about finding an agent that’s right for you? Comment below!

Happy Writing Everyone!

©KaylaAnnAuthor2022

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

How to Write a Query Letter (Querying)

In my post titled “So You’ve Finished Writing Your Book… Now What?,” I discussed the necessity of writing the author’s bio, query letter, and book synopsis. My plan is to share my experiences with each of these items as I walk through this process of publishing my YA Fantasy Fiction WIP. Let’s deal with the second of these items today: the query letter.

What is a query letter?

Such a simple question, with a seemingly simple answer, and yet I have also found that the answer can sometimes change based on who you are querying. For the majority of the time, however, a query letter is your chance to tell the agent a little about you, but mostly about your book. It’s your attempt to sell your agent on your book before they ever even look (or request) at your manuscript). If you don’t sell your book here, it’s over.

With that being said, a query letter is clearly important, but how do you write one?

What elements does a query letter typically include?

  1. Greeting
    • Start with “Dear ____________” and find the specific name to your specific agent. You want them to get to know you? Take the time to get to know them. Do. The. Research.
      • This isn’t the place to be super creative or superfluous. It really is that simple and nothing to get overtly fancy with.
  2. Book Information
    • This is the most important part of your entire query (sorry for the panic attack I just triggered). You need to introduce your story, your main protagonist, and the major conflict of the story. Think of this almost like a back cover blurb but more. This should be around 3 paragraphs long (under 300 words). Paragraph One introduces your world and main character. Paragraph Two introduces the conflict. Paragraph Three introduces the stakes if the protagonist fails. My best advice on how to write this section?
      • READ OTHER QUERIES (look at my link below for Query Shark where you can read other queries and critical responses to said queries)
  3. Author Bio (Short)
    • Your last paragraph should include the title of your book in CAPS, word count, genre, and comparable comps (if applicable, especially if asked for). Finish your last paragraph with a short author bio (many agents will ask for a full author’s bio apart from the general query letter). If you have already provided a full author bio, keep this short with a “While I’m not writing, I am blahblahblahblahblah (try to sell yourself a bit with something interesting) (2-3 sentences).
      • If you haven’t already provided a full author’s bio, go and read my “How to Write an Author’s Bio” post
  4. Closing
    • Again, less is more.
      • “Thank you for your time and consideration.”
      • Sincerely, First and Last Name
      • Email
      • Phone Number
      • Social Media Handles (if applicable)
    • That’s it. You don’t need to tell them you’re willing to send the rest of your manuscript (they know).

One last thing, keep it brief. As in, you must absolutely remain under 500 words brief.

Here are a few querying articles that I found particularily helpful during my own research that I highly recommend!

I’m thinking about accepting queries through my blog and reviewing them for fellow authors. Would you be interested in sending me a query so that I could review it?

Let me know in the comments below!

Happy Writing Everyone!

©KaylaAnnAuthor2022

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

Dear Aspiring Author

It has been quite some time since I have written a draft in WordPress. Some of you may recall, I disappeared right as the world was shutting down from COVID. Around the same time, I had my son and I’ve been pretty consumed by him ever since. I have been writing more lately, finally, and I hope to have more to share with you soon. Today, as a way to reintroduce myself, I’d love to share an interview I did with Penable which was featured in their Hall of Fame.

In this interview I was asked: “What advice would you give to any aspiring author?”

In short my answer was this: Have Patience . . . Have patience with your story and your characters. You cannot rush your writing because you are so eager to publish that you regret not allowing your writing to mature and improve. Have patience with yourself. You’re not going to hit your word count every day. Have patience waiting to hear back from publishers (mostly because we don’t have a choice on that one).

It was a fun experience and if you’re interested, you can read the full interview here: https://penable.net/2020/08/08/interview-with-special-author-kayla-ann/

Blogs / Life

First Year of Teaching: Inspiring the Next Generation of Writers

When I was in high school, I was always asked the cliche question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

The answer was immediate, “An author! But I’ll probably teach too.”

It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the idea of teaching, but it always came secondary to my desire to write. I started teaching college classes in the Spring of 2018, after I received my Master’s degree in English Literature, and realized that I not only enjoyed teaching, I loved it. There was nothing better than helping college students realize that they did not have to hate English even if they had hated it their entire high school experience. In fact, they could even, Heaven forbid, LIKE it!

Then, in the Fall of 2019, I got my wish. I was hired as a full-time Middle School English teacher at a private Christian School where I could help students become better readers and better writers while sharing my love of Christ. This past year, as crazy as it was, taught me that teaching no longer comes second to my desire to write.

I learned that my dreams of becoming a well-established author and my focus on inspiring the next generation to love writing and reading could work together hand-in-hand.

In my English class this year, I shared with my students the process of writing Agency in the Hunger Games, the revision process, the publishing process, and I even got to bring a copy of my book to show my class. I taught them about perserverance and endurance. I told them that at their age, I had sat in that very same classroom, in those VERY same desks, writing in one of my dozens of notebooks while people around me told me that I was wasting my time. I would never be published. The field was too hard to break through. I told them that I had not listened to those voices, but that I had followed my dream and I had worked hard for it. I told them that the dreams they had now did not have to be impossiblilities.

I never realized how much my words meant to them until about a month ago.

A month after online learning ended, one of my students emailed me to let me know that my personal story had inspired him. He had always wanted to write, but never felt good enough being so young and so inexperienced. This summer, he was challenging himself to write his first full-length novel and it was all because I had encouraged him to do so. He told me that he was writing his book in honor of me. It was a simple email, only a few lines long, but it meant the world to me.

I realized then that as an author and as a teacher, it is my duty to inspire the next generation of writers and educators.

What good is experience if we are not willing to share it with others? What good is failure if we can not use it to better ourselves? What use is success if we do not share that success with others to inspire them to follow after their dreams as well?

As both an author and a teacher, I have a new dream of what to be when I grow up. I hope to be the inspiration that the next generation needs.

100,000 Word Count Challenge, My Writings

The Runic Saga #WIP #Pitch #ContemporaryFantasy

The Runic Saga

(working title)

It’s been five centuries since the collapse of the world as it was once known, ravaged by war, disease, and natural disasters. Larissa Daldóttir lives in the leftovers of a forgotten world, a small nation known as Evrópa which resides under the iron reign of the Diamante Empress. Larissa’s only desire is to live unnoticed, especally when it comes to Halla, her second-born sister who is technically illegal under the one-child policy.

When Halla oversteps her bounds, she triggers a series of events that unlock secrets from the past, secrets that the Empress is wiling to silence at any cost. Larissa must abandon everything she knows to protect Halla, but to do so, she must be willing to face the truth of her own history before it is too late. 

Runic Saga

©KaylaAnnAuthor2020

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Agency Games

WINNER of the GIVEAWAY and more . . .

Over the past month, I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet many new awesome bloggers, tweeters, instagrammers, facebookers, and authors. I want to start off by saying: THANK YOU.

Thank you to every single person who reads my posts, who reblogged the GIVEAWAY, and interact with me regularly through our social media sites. In just a moment, I am going to announce the winner of my Giveaway, but I have a second announcement that I hope you will stick around for…

Without further ado, the winner of Agency in the Hunger Games GIVEAWAY is:

Annette Rochelle Aben

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Congratulations, Annette Rochelle Aben! Please go to my CONTACT page and send me an email including your mailing address so that I can ship this book to you as soon as possible!

For my second announcement, I want to thank the blogger who shared and reblogged my GIVEAWAY the most on various social media sites:

Eugi’s Causerie I

As a HUGE thank you, I would like to send you a copy of my book as well! Please send me an email and I will be sure to send out my book!

That’s all folks, thank you to everyone else who participated and reblogged!

*Also, in the near future, I am considering opening up “BOOK REVIEW LOTTERIES” where I will post a blog for twenty-four hours accepting submissions of books that people are wanting reviewed. At the end of that twenty-four hours, I will select one of the submitted books which I will later review and post on my blog.

Would you be interested in particpating? Let me know in the comments!

Writing Tips

Writing Tip: RE-WRITE instead of Revise

*This is a tip that I first found on Pinterest and used when re-writing Agency in the Hunger Games. I am using this tip again with my current WIP.

Often times, when writers finish the first draft of their WIP, most jump straight into the editing phase. We can’t help it; we’re excited and already thinking about querying and sending out manuscripts, but if you do that, you are missing a HUGE step in the publishing process.

Here’s a piece of advice that changed my writing life entirely. When you finish your first draft, you should not go straight to editing. Instead you should write the first draft all over again from the beginning. Literally, pull up a blank document and rewrite your manuscript sentence by sentence.

IKnow It Sounds Crazy Hear Me Out GIF - IKnowItSoundsCrazy ...

Before you turn away in disgust, hear me out.

Why It Works:

When you have to rewrite (or retype) your manuscript, you will inherently be more open to removing unnecessary parts (because you’re not actually deleting anything) and you are far more likely to add more material and flush out your ideas now that you know how your story ends. You can add in more foreshadowing, more world building, more character depth, etc. Instead of having to go through your draft and figure out where to put those items, they come much more naturally through the rewrite.

My Results

I am currently using this technique to expand my Contemporary Fantasy Young Adult Fiction piece (80,000 Word Count in 10 Weeks Challenge). In my original draft at this point in the story (finished four years ago), I had written about 80 pages and 22,839 words. At the same point in the plot with my new draft, I have written 163 pages and 49,235 words. And that is AFTER completing removing entire scenes and chapters. Not only did I DOUBLE the amount of story, but I can say whole-heartedly that it is a BETTER story. It’s a lot of work to re-write an entire draft when you just want to move into the next phrase, but I can say that the result was worth it!

Not only did I greatly improve the quantity of my writing but, more importantly, I also improved the quality of my work.

Have you ever tried this technique before? Did it work for you?

Happy Writing Everyone!

***If you enjoyed today’s writing tip, be sure to visit my page “Writing Tips” on my main menu and learn more tips and tricks! Have any writing questions? Leave them in the comments below!

©KaylaAnnAuthor2020

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

80,000 Word Challenge

80,000 Word Count Challenge Update (3)

It’s Time for Update #3!

I started this 80,000 Word Count in 10 Weeks challenge six weeks ago. (If you did not read that post, you can read it here!) As of today, I have officially passed the half way point of my 2020 Summer Challenge.

After six weeks of writing every day, (okay okay, I actually missed one day due to illness) my goal word count was 48,000 words. I  currently have a grand total of . . .

 48,072 Words

Update 3

To be more precise, I am in the midst of Chapter 12. I have 159 pages and 48,072words.

Looking at the above graph, I can see that I had a bit of an extra lead at my last update, but I lost that lead this last week after I needed to take a personal day. But hey, at least I hit my word count goal!

There were a couple of scenes over the past two weeks that I have been looking forward to writing since the start of this challenge and wow, they evolved into so much more than they were in the original draft! (PROOF that REWRITING, NOT revising, works! I’ll have more to say about that at a later date.)

Now that I have finished those fun scenes, I have to deal with the fallout, leaving me looking something like . . .

kaylaannauthor – KaylaAnn

I know the next four weeks will be the toughest as I am completely changing the original ending of my first draft! I appreciate all the encouragement you have sent my way so far and hope that all of your writing adventures are going just as well!

May Your Ink Never Run Dry &

May Your Cups of Tea Always Remain Warm

 

©KaylaAnnAuthor2020

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Agency Games

Title, Book Blurb, and Cover Art Release for “The Agency Games”

On January 18, 2018, I shared with you all my dream, goal, and journey of writing, editing, finishing, and publishing “The Agency Games.”

Well, nearly two years later I am proud to share with you my official and finalized title, book blurb, and cover art:

 

“Agency in The Hunger Games

Desire, Intent, and Action in the Novels”

For 21st-century young adults struggling for personal autonomy in a society that often demands compliance, the bestselling trilogy, The Hunger Games remains palpably relevant despite its futuristic setting. For Suzanne Collins’ characters, personal agency is not only the physical battle of controlling one’s own body, but includes responding to a multitude of internal and external influences such as morality, trauma, power, and hope, while maintaining a sense of self.
This book offers an opportunity to explore personal agency through in-depth examinations of the individual lives of Katniss, Peeta, Gale, Haymitch, Cinna, Primrose, and other residents of Panem, and through the analysis of other themes such as the overabundance of bodily imagery, the social expectations within the capitol, and the problematic parental figures of the series. By looking directly at individual agency and how it is gained, exercised, lost, and reclaimed, 21st-century readers will discover their own “dandelion of hope” through the examples set down by Collins’ characters, who establish over and over again that human agency is ultimately always attainable.

The Hunger Games

 

Is this book something you might be interested in? Click the link and be sure to drop a comment: Agency in the Hunger Games – SIGN UP!

Do you know anyone who might be interested in this investigation of their favorite Hunger Games series? Please make sure to reblog or share it with them!

©KaylaAnnAuthor2019

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.