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

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

What to do when your DISTANCING yourself from your writing

In one of my previous posts titled “So You’ve Finished Writing Your Book… Now What?“, I encourage authors to get some distance from their book once they finish it. Here’s what I said:

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.

So what CAN you do during this time of distance? Anything!

What should you do? Now that is a different matter entirely. Here are some options:

Work on Your Social Media Platforms

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, etc. A large part of getting your book into your reader’s hands is to market yourself along with your book. This isn’t the article to talk about how to grow your social media (that would take MANY articles), this is just a reminder that you should be growing your author platform in different areas LONG before you ever publish a book. Build yourself a following that is looking forward to the release of your novel instead of trying to find readers retroactively.

Start Researching Agents You Believe Will Enjoy Your Book

As I mentioned in “So You’ve Finished Writing Your Book… Now What?” you are going to need to start researching agents (if you plan to go the traditional route). While you are giving your book some distance, start looking into different agencies and specific agents to narrow down the agents you believe will best enjoy your book!

READ Other Books in Your Same Genre that Have Recently Come Out

Great authors are often great readers. Take a break from writing, you’ve earned it, but stay in your world (genre) by reading what is currently popular in your chosen genre. This can be both relaxing and informational. Get lost in a story while appreciating the elements of the story that make it enjoyable. Ask yourself: does my story have these elements that drive a story?

Find Other Projects to Keep that Creativity Flowing!

Still riding that high of finishing your book and you just NEED to keep writing? Go for it! Start writing your next book, this could be a follow-up to the book you just finished or a new idea entirely! (Small addendum though: if you are working on sequels, I encourage you to outline them instead of writing them. Outlining will still help you see where your story is going, but if your first book has major changes during the publishing process, you won’t have to go re-write the next book to make it work).

Or, if you’re like me, write a blog post about distancing from your book and how you are keeping yourself occupied!

Do you distance yourself from your writing once you’ve completed it? What do you do during your “time apart”? 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.