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.

Poetry

Write

Write,

Come on, it’s not that hard

“Her eyes like the sun, scorching like Hell”

Not very good.

 

Write,

Come on, put something down

“His hands like velvet, choking me”

Not much better.

Write,

Come on, poets do this everyday

And yet,

When I try to write the words

I don’t know what to say

 

I could languish away

Never quenched by the poet’s water

Cascading, flowing, gushing, vomiting

Into a dry savannah

 

I could starve to death

Never satisfied by the poet’s love

The incandescent touch that

Grates and chafes

 

Write,

Write me something beautiful and revolting

Something appealing yet grotesque

Write, about anything.

 

©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

Writing Tip: STOP Writing

“Stop writing?!”

“But Kayla,” you may ask me, “how can you tell me to stop writing? Shouldn’t we keep writing? After all, we are writers! How can we be writers if we are not writing? How does stopping our writing actually help our writing? Isn’t that contradictory?”

Image result for girl you crazy gif

Now before you turn away from me and shake your head in disgust, hear me out.

I’m not saying that we should stop all writing. I am saying that you should stop working on the project you’re currently working on once you have finished it. For writers there is this huge urge that once we finally finish a project we automatically want to go back through, edit, and send it to a publisher. It’s just not realistic guys. In order for a work to be good you need to utilize the power of distance.

Now some of you may be wondering what the power of distances and others of you might have already heard of it. For those of you who are unfamiliar or need the refresher: The power of distance is, as it sounds, distancing yourself from your work after you have finished it.

Once you have finished a project you set it aside. If it’s on your computer, exit out of the file for a while (I know it’s scary but don’t worry it’ll still be there when you get back to it). If you’re writing in a notebook (hey kudos to you not a lot of people do that anymore),  close the notebook, put in a drawer and leave it alone. Give your work at least a couple of days if not weeks to rest and work on other projects in the meantime. Heck, go outside and see the sun once in a while (you know us writers are vitamin D deficient).

After a few days or a few weeks whatever you can manage, although longer is better, take your work out. The distance that you have given yourself and your writing will now do several things for you:

  • You will no longer be wrapped in the euphoria of finishing your project. As such, you will be able to remove your rose-colored glasses and look at your work for what it is: beautiful, but in serious need of some editing.
  • Due to the above, you will also be more willing to do what needs to be done, even if this means cutting out whole sections or chapters of your work.
  • You will gain a new and fresh perspective. I’m sure many of you college students out there know the feeling of turning in a paper, believing it to be 100% free of errors only to have it returned to you with red marks and think to yourself, “How did I miss that?” Do you know that when we read the same thing over and over, our brain will automatically fill in the gaps because it knows where we are going? That is why students often miss entire words in their essays, because their brain automatically assumes the words are there. By placing distance between your work and yourself, you give your brain a chance to restart and give your eyes a fresh chance to look at your material (making it easier to spot mistakes).

Try for yourself guys and let me know how it goes! Once you do finish a project and utilize the power of distance I encourage you to NOT EDIT, but rather, to Rewrite Instead.

Happy Writing Everyone!

 

Writing Tips

Writing Tip: Allow Your Book To Evolve

When writing your book just know that your book WILL change.

Perhaps not a ton, perhaps only a little, or perhaps it will be a completely different book than the one you intended on writing in the first place, but one way or another, your book will evolve over time.

This isn’t a bad thing though. As you write, your ideas will grow and form. You might realize that what sounded like a great idea before doesn’t really work well in application. You may be hit with a sudden inspiration to go a different direction.

My advice?

Image result for do it gif

But in all seriousness, go for it! If you feel your book changing, you need to allow it. If you stick too tightly to your original plan, your writing will come out forced and it will sound that way to your readers. Take the new path and see where the new ideas lead you. If you hate them you can always go back and try again.

In other words, planning and outlining your book is important. But it is also just as important to allow your book to change and evolve as you write.

As you all know, I recently received my feedback from the publishers and they encouraged me to change and improve some chapters in my book. Through their suggestions, I have come up with new solutions and actually changed the entire chapter order of my book! And to be honest, it’s better for it!

Happy Writing Everyone!

***Enjoyed today’s tip? Check out my main page for more under the tab “Writing Tips”! Have any questions about today’s tip or writing in general? Leave your comments below!

 

©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.

Blogs / Life

The Best Advice I Ever Received

When I was younger, my mother gave me the best advice I have ever received and I have tried to stick to it all my life. Often times, when I was scared of asking a question, my mother would say:

“Ask anyway. The worst thing they can do is say no.”

Now, when my mother said this, she wasn’t talking about writing, or blogging, or publishing, or anything like that. And yet, her words of wisdom apply to almost everything I do in my writing career.

Am I scared of getting feedback? Of course, I am! People can be mean.

But I ask for outside opinions anyway.

The worst thing they can do is say they don’t like it (not everyone will).

Am I scared of submitting my work to publishing houses? Of course!

But I ask for their response anyway.

They worst they can say is “no thank you.”

Am I terrified of being shut down? You bet!

But I still put myself and my work out there.

Just because the publishing world is hard, and the writing world can be mean, I cannot be afraid to ask. I cannot be afraid to follow my dreams. The worst thing anyone can tell me is “no” and yes, that “no” may suck when I receive it. In fact, I know it does! I have received my fair share of rejection letters and criticism telling me “no,” I’m not good enough or “no,” I don’t deserve to be published. But guess what?

“No,” is just a word.

A no from one publisher (or more), a no from a reviewer (or more), is not the end! Accept their “no” and move on!  Don’t let the fear of hearing no, stop you from ever trying!

Image result for never let the fear of striking out sign

What question or dream are you giving up because you’re afraid to hear “no”?

Happy Writing Everyone!

©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

Writing Tip: You are NOT an author, unless you are a writer.

I know yesterday, I spoke all about how important it is to read, but it is equally important to write!

You cannot be an author without first being a writer.

This one may sound redundant but hear me out first.

So often as writers I feel we forget how important it is to sit down every single day and write. Especially for those of us who have family responsibilities, educational distractions, work obligations, you name it. As a college professor, daughter, bride-to-be my time is often split in a million different directions.

Our lives are filled with distractions that can often keep us from our passions. We find ourselves at the end of the day, crawling into bed, exhausted, only to remember that we never got to our writing. We assure ourselves that we will get to it the next day, do even more to make up for the missed time and before we know it a week has passed without writing.

So here’s today’s tip: Write!

Every single day be sure and set aside some time to write. Whether it’s 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 60 minutes or more, be sure to make it a daily habit to put your pen to paper (or your fingers to a keyboard if that’s your thing). Maybe put a reminder in your phone or have a notebook placed by your bed to remind you to write.

Just remember, in order to be writers we need to write!!!

Happy Writing Everyone!

What do you do to make sure you write everyday? Do you do a word count? If so, what?

©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

Writing Tip: READ

Read? But we are writers, we write!

Yes, but we should also be READING.

Image result for READING GIF

A large part of what we do is based on what we know, what we have experienced, and what we have read. Let’s be honest, most writers are also reading enthusiasts. Reading and writing often goes hand in hand. Through reading we come to learn about this wonderful world of writing.

At one point in your life, a certain book or series truly inspired you. You decided, you want to write something like that. That’s because reading inspires and encourages. For me, that was “The Hunger Games” series by Suzanne Collins. Reading also connects us to others, whether they are fictional characters or real people who share the same interests.

In order to be a successful writer, you want to be a frequent reader. Now of course, you have deadlines to meet and reading every day may not be possible, but in your writing journey don’t forget or underestimate the power of reading.

Reading can be inspirational.
Reading can be an escape.
Reading can be an adventure.
Reading can be connection with others.
Reading can encourage.
Reading can be comforting.

What else, in your experience, can reading be?

In the comment be sure to answer, reading can be ______________.

Happy Writing (and reading) Everyone!

©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.