Writing Tips

Highlighting Rejection: Louisa May Alcott

To my fellow authors, I know that rejection letter stings. I know that it sinks down into your mind and heart. It makes you doubt whether you should even continue writing. DON’T LET IT. Rejection now does not mean rejection later and it certainly does not mean rejection forever. Let me share with you some well-known authors who experienced rejection themselves!

Perhaps the name Louisa May Alcott rings a bell in your ears? Alcott was the author of Little Women. The novel follows the lives of four sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. These women are loosely based on the women in Alcott’s own life. According to VanityFair, “More than a century after it was first published, the March sisters still galvanize readers, writers, and Hollywood producers.”

However, Alcott received one of the harshest rejection letters of her time when Publisher James T. Fields rejected her work and advised her, “Stick to your teaching, Miss Alcott. You can’t write” (Boston Women’s Heritage Trail). If you saw the latest movie remake, Little Women, you saw first hand the treatment that Jo received for her writing.

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What might have happened if Alcott had allowed these insults to change her mind? She never would have published her novels that still bless our screens today!

After her success, Louisa herself wrote, “Twenty years ago, I resolved to make the family independent if I could. At forty that is done. Debts all paid, even the outlawed ones, and we have enough to be comfortable. It has cost me my health, perhaps; but as I still live, there is more for me to do, I suppose” (Boston Women’s Heritage Trail).

Try and try again, it’s all that we can do!

Have you been rejected before, or does the world of traditional publishing seem too intimidating to venture into just yet? Let me know in the comments below!

©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

Highlighting Rejection: Dr. Suess

To my fellow authors, I know that rejection letter stings. I know that it sinks down into your mind and heart. It makes you doubt whether you should even continue writing. DON’T LET IT. Rejection now does not mean rejection later and it certainly does not mean rejection forever. Let me share with you some well-known authors who experienced rejection themselves!

Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, is one of the most successful children’s author in the world. His well-know works include Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat and the Hat, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Many of his books have been remained into cartoons which were later remained into live-action movies. And now, even his movies are being reanimated closer to their original form.

Needless to say, his success is obvious everywhere!
However, it wasn’t always that way. Did you know the Dr. Seuss’s first children’s book,  And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Streetwas rejected twenty-seven different times!

In fact, he had almost given up on getting his book published at all! It was only due to a chance encounter with a friend, who had recently become an editor, that Theodor Geisel ever became Dr. Seuss.

Can you imagine though, what would have happened, if Theodor had been too broken by his recent rejections to even mention his book to his friend? What would Christmas look like without his classic tale?


If Dr. Seuss, the genius behind children’s stories, can take twenty-seven different rejections and keep moving forward, so can I and so can you!

Try and try again, it’s all that we can do!

Have you been rejected before, or does the world of traditional publishing seem too intimidating to venture into just yet? Let me know in the comments below!

©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

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

How to Write an Author’s Bio (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. There are many amazing articles out there about the author’s bio and I encourage you to read those that I’ve linked at the bottom of my post! Today’s post is meant to give you a practical way to start writing your bio right now, let’s begin!

What is the Author’s Bio?

When you are querying, an author’s bio is different than the blurb about the author you might find on the inside book jacket of your published work or the one you post on your social media sites. The purpose of the Author’s Bio during querying is to give the agents a sense of who you are, your credentials, your personality, your voice, etc. In a way, you are selling yourself, rather than your book.

Although some agents may request an author’s bio, some may never read it, but it’s always a good thing to have one at the ready!

Writing the Author’s Bio:

First, start by introducing yourself in first person instead of third. Yup, it’s weird, but it is the preferred point of view. Instead of saying, “Kayla Ann is the author of Agency in the Hunger Games,” I would write, “My name is Kayla Ann, and I am the author of Agency in the Hunger Games.”

Second, share your current job, educational background, writing credentials, etc. that are relevant to your writing. For instance, as a teacher of English, I am ideally situated to converse with my target audience (YA) daily! My Master’s degree in English Literature and my Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing demonstrate my familiarity with story-telling and hard work ethic. I also recommend including one line of personal information that makes you stand out or gives your bio more personality.

Third, if you have ever published before, let them know! If you have a strong social media following, share it! Writing awards or even minor publications, add them in!

Here’s the catch though: your author’s bio should be between 100-200 words. That’s it. So if you have a lot to share, narrow it down to the most impressive (and truthful) information.

Keep it straight forward, snappy, formal, and yet flavored with your own personality. Simple, right?

Writer’s Relief has a great detailed article all about an author’s bio if you are wanting more information: How to Write the Perfect Author Bio for Your Book’s Query Letter.

Here’s another great blog post that I found helpful: Writing a Compelling Author Bio

Now it’s your turn to try! Drop your Author’s Bio in the comments below and I’ll let you know what I think!

If you drop your bio, please make sure to comment on someone else’s also!

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

Beta Readers: Who are they? What should they do?

In one of my previous posts titled “So You’ve Finished Writing Your Book… Now What?,” I brought up the idea of Beta-Readers. I’m sure many of you are familiar with these lovely entities, but for those of you who are not, let me answer a few pressing questions in today’s post.

  • What are Beta Readers?
  • Who are Beta Readers?
  • What should Beta Readers do?
  • What types of questions should you ask Beta Readers?
  • Should you pay Beta Readers?

WHAT are Beta Readers?

In general, a Beta Reader is test reader of your finished (but unpublished) manuscript.

WHO are Beta Readers?

Beta Readers can be friends, family members, members from your writing community, or others. Typically, you want to find a beta reader who you are familiar enough with that you trust them with your manuscript and to be kind in their response, but also someone who you know is honest enough to give you real feedback. In other word, if your mom is going to tell you that everything is great (even when it is not), you probably need to find a different Beta Reader.

For me, one of my chosen Beta Readers was my cousin who is right smack dab in the middle of my target audience who is also an avid reader. These elements, plus her honesty, make her an ideal candidate for giving intial feedback based on story alone which lead into . . .

WHAT should Beta Readers do?

A Beta Reader is meant to provide feedback on an unpublished manuscript so that you can improve it before sending it out to agents (or self-publishing). Therefore, Beta Readers will read and give a report on your book. It is important that YOU give clear instructions on what you are looking for. Besides wanting just general “did you like it” feedback, you should give your Beta Reader parameters for when you would like your book back and what exactly you want feedback on.

What type of QUESTIONS should you ask Beta Readers?

You can find dozens upon dozens of articles and posts that include questions to ask your Beta Readers, but I suggest you find the top ten questions that fit your book best. If you give your Beta Reader too many questions they may get overwhelmed and give you shorter answers. If you give them too few questions, you may not get the feedback that you are looking for. Here are my top ten questions:

  • Do the first 10 pages make you want to keep reading? If not, what is the problem?
  • Do you find yourself skipping pages?
  • Are you confused at any point in the story?
  • Do you know who the main characters are and what motivates them?
  • Was any part of the story too fast or too slow?
  • What did you think of the different main characters? How did you relate to them?
  • What did you think of the dialogue? (Was It Believable)?
  • What did you think of the ending? (Is It Satisfying)?
  • Would you want to read the next book in this series?
  • Overall, did you enjoy the story?

Should you PAY Beta Readers?

Typically, Beta Readers are not paid (especially if they are your close friends, writing companions, family, etc.) However, it is always a nice gesture to send them a thank you card or when your book does get published, send them a signed hard-copy as a thank you!

Have you ever used a Beta Reader? Have you ever been a Beta Reader? How do you typically find your Beta Readers? 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

So You’ve Finished Writing Your Book… Now What?

After months, maybe years, of dedicated hard work, you are finally able to type “The End.” It’s the feeling that you always dreamed it would be. THIS is your masterpiece, THIS is your legacy, THIS is everything you hoped it would be!

Now what?

Let me outline a few general steps that you still need to take before you hold that beautiful hard copy of your book in your hands.

1. Congratulations! Finishing your book, whether its your first or fifty-first, is an amazing accomplishment. Take a moment to revel in your achievement, but don’t get too carried away. Your hard work is far from over.

2. If this is the first draft of your book, keep in mind that you are probably nowhere near publishing it (yet). You need to give your book some distance. Right now, you are in the “infatuation” stage where your book can do no wrong. It might be beautiful, but everybody has their “quirks” and that includes your book. Give yourself at least a week (if not more) to let your giddiness die down (just a smidge). After you have allowed yourself this distance, read through your novel.

  • What can you do during this time of distance? Keep your eyes open for my upcoming post about ways to spend your “Distance.”

3. As you are reading, take on the role of your target audience, someone with no background knowledge of what it took for you to write this book or where you are going. Read without looking at the grammar or spelling, read without allowing yourself to edit. Read ONLY for the sake of answering the BIG questions: Does my book have a completed story arc? Is the journey for my main protagonist clear? Are there any plot holes in my story? Are there any consistency issues? Once, you’ve done this, let’s move on to the next step: Revision.

4. Some call this revision, for me, it’s almost always a REWRITE, especially if I have only ever written the first draft. My stories usually go through five or more drafts before I start “editing.” Anyhow, in this revise/rewrite section, it’s time to address those big questions and make sure that your story flows naturally, has realistic conflicts (minor) that all lead to the major climax with plausible consequences that all lead into a resolution that has an impact on your characters and readers. Simple, right? (That was sarcasm in case you didn’t catch it.)

5. NOW you’ve truly got something to work with! Still, I recommend you don’t send your book out quite yet. Instead, send your finished manuscript to some trusted BETA-readers first. This allows you another set(s) of eyes to view your book for big picture questions before you bare your soul to that agent or publishing house. (Keep a look out for that upcoming post as well: Questions to Ask Your Beta Reader).

6. Once you are satisfied that your book is TRULY ready to send out, you need to ask yourself which route you are going to go. Traditional publishing (typically through an agent) or self-publishing. This article is going to follow the traditional publishing route.

7. Unfortunately, the days when you could query your book directly to major publishing houses is pretty much long gone, you’ll need an agent now to speak on your behalf. Although agents get a bad rap, they really are there to help the author. So, you’ll need to find an agent and here are few suggested places you can look:

  • Publisher’s Marketplace & Query Tracker typically appear in most articles about finding an agent (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!
  • 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.

8. Finding an agent that meshes well with your vision will take some time, but it will increase your chances at getting an acceptance instead of a rejection. Once you have found the agents you like (yes, agents, multiple), you will need to write the author bio, query letter, and synopsis for you and your book (multiple future blog posts coming up!)

9. When you send out your queries, PLEASE make sure to pay special attention to the particular directions each of your agents might have. If they are asking for something in particular and you ignore their request, why should they not ignore you? Respect goes both ways, so pay attention to what they are looking for!

10. Accept rejection. I’ll be honest. It’s going to happen. Not maybe, not possibly, but most definitely, and it doesn’t always mean there is something wrong with you or your book. It might mean that you need to adjust your query itself. Or it could be the wrong agent. I know it is unbelievably hard to get a “no,” or even worse that dreaded silence in which you don’t even feel worthy of a rejection, but hang in there. Go back to steps 7 & 8. Find new agents, review your query itself, and try again.

11. Don’t give up hope. It probably won’t happen on the first try, or the second, or the third, but it will never happen at all if you give up. Hang in there, I look forward to seeing YOUR book on my shelf!

Do you have any questions about this process post-manuscript completion? 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

Highlighting Rejection Day 5: YOU

Can we all just be honest and authentic for a couple of minutes?

I am encouraging ALL of you to be willing to be vulnerable in the comment section.

Anyone who is serious about writing has most likely received some sort of rejection in their lives. Maybe it was not an official rejection letter, maybe it was some peer review (from family or friends) that did not go as you expected.

Writing is hard, and rejection/criticism makes it harder. But I think the thing that is so detrimental about rejection is when we think that we are alone in our rejection. We think, “This is a personal reflection on ME.”

I am hoping to combat this idea and the isolation that can be a result of rejection by encouraging you to comment below your own experiences with rejection. As a writing community, let us come together to share our own struggles.

So, if you are up for it, in the comment section please answer:

Have you ever experienced rejection for your writing? If so, was the rejection kind or harsh? And more importantly, how did you respond/handle the rejection? What advice would you give to someone who just received their 1st, 2nd, 3rd rejection letter?

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. 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

Highlighting “Rejection” Day 1: KaylaAnn

Hello there friends!

What an amazing weekend! As many of you are aware, I recently published my first book, Agency in the Hunger Games and celebrated that publication last weekend with the Launch Party. However, I personally, am not always inspired or encouraged when every one else around me succeeds. For the hope of encouraging the struggling authors out there who see someone else’s success and thinks, “why can’t that be me?” Let me remind you that we all start at the same place: REJECTION.

Here is the rejection letter that I received back in October from another publishing company that I had submitted my children’s series to a couple months before. They responded,

We have read and reviewed it with care, but we’re sorry to say that it doesn’t seem quite right for our list. We appreciate the opportunity to read your work, however, and wish you good luck in finding the right home for this project.

Overall, it was not actually a horrible rejection letter. It was kind and considerate, and while I may wish they had told me why the book was not the right fit, I appreciated their encouragement to try again elsewhere.

Now, you may be wondering, why am I highlighting my failures online for everyone to see? Especially right after my recent success. The answer is simple really:

I believe in presenting my authentic self, every time.

And honestly, I refuse to see a rejection letter as a “failure.” Lately, I have been blessed enough to be able to focus and celebrate my accomplishments, but I am a writer, and our lives are definitely not only made up of achievements. The life of a writer is overflowing with feedback and most of it is not going to be positive (not if you’re allowing yourself to be vulnerable). There is going to be negative feedback, hurtful criticism, and yes, enough rejection letters to plaster your office walls.

So what? That does not mean that we stop writing. It means that we sit our butts back down in our writing chair, we open our computers, and we go to work.

This week, in honor of my latest rejection letter, I am going to post up a new famous author every day who went through multiple rejections on their way to becoming successful.

Are you a writer? Have you received that rejection letter? You are not alone!

Stop by my blog each day this week to read about how all the “great” authors have stood exactly where you stand now with rejection letters in hand.

My hope is this, that as a writing community we will not equate “rejection” with “failure.”

Image result for writing rejection

©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

Book Launch Recap: “Agency in the Hunger Games”

The Launch Party for Agency in the Hunger Games took place on February 23rd and it was an absolute success! 

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The theme was “Hunger Games;” so naturally, we had black table cloths, red candles, gold silverware and napkins, red plates, and Mockingjays galore! Games included “Name that Tribute” and “Reveal the Rebel Message.” Want to play? Keep your eyes open for my upcoming post: Hunger Games Inspired Party Games!

One of the most exciting parts of the launch was the Costume Party! 

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Congrats to Tifnie for the best-dressed Katniss (complete with bow and arrows)!

Books were sold and signed. Food was eaten and drinks were served. Someone asked me, “How does it feel?” I said, “Incredible and real.” 

REAL was definitely the word I would use to describe yesterday. It’s one thing to be told that your book is going to be published. It’s another thing to see that book online for sale. It’s even another thing to hold that physical copy in your hand. But there is nothing, nothing, quite like holding a party to celebrate that accomplishment, actually selling and signing books that you know someone is going to take home and read.

If someone had asked me, “So are you an author now? Real or not real?” I would have to say an affirmative, “Real!”