Query Tip: Mantra

One of the biggest parts of my job coaching writers on their publishing journey is prepping them for the QUERY TRENCHES.

After the book is written & revised, and we feel solid that the work is done, the manuscript is at its conceptual best, all polished up and shiny, we switch gears.

From creation mode to business time.

And this shift can feel really freakin’ strange.

This is the moment I notice most writers seeking traditional publication falter.

This is where fear creeps in like the Grim Reaper, scythe gleaming to slash hopes and dreams.

Writers look at the rules of Querying: Guidelines on agency websites, Google search results with daunting statistics and horror stories about fails and screw ups, and we get in our heads about how HARD this part is.

How easy it is to fail right here, at the threshold of all we’ve been working toward.

This is where many writers forget that without writers there would be no publishing industry. Writers are the fuel, the creative juice, the actual ones making the thing agents sell, editors buy, and readers read.

WRITERS ARE THE PRIZE.

So what does this mean for queriers?

Here’s a little mindset shift you can do right now, no matter which stage of the journey you’re in. Repeat after me:

When Querying:

  1. Be Professional
  2. Be Respectful
  3. Be the PRIZE

The rest — like whether you caps locked the names in your synopsis when you first introduced characters, or whether you put your name in the footer beside your page numbers — will never matter as much as your attitude toward the agent you query and your attitude toward YOURSELF.

Be a prize— which doesn’t mean: Be a brat.

It means send a query you are proud of, that looks and reads like YOU, for a book you worked hard to create.

The rest will follow. Maybe in a minute, or in five years, but timing doesn’t change the fact that YOU. ARE. THE. PRIZE. 💃🏼

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I offer a QUERY PACKAGE for writers who are ready to take the leap. For $350, It includes query & synopsis feedback, notes on your first ten pages and a list of 8 agents to start querying when ready. If you mention this blog post when you contact me I will take 10% off the cost. 💗

Writing the Wrong Book

Okay, I know this can feel like a scary, touchy subject for writers to think about for long, but hear me out. I am *thisclose* to crossing the 25k word mark in this manuscript and I think it’s a fitting time to tell you that I wrote this book wrong at first. 

I wrote the whole thing. I revised it. I got feedback and it was nice, readers were enjoying it, they had thoughts, but ultimately nothing that was changing the way I was feeling about it which was…only okay. 

Here is the truth: We are never too good, smart or talented to write the wrong book first.

We might think we have to write it that way because on the surface it makes a whole lot of sense. Maybe we think it’s our brand, or we really WANT to write a certain kind of book because it’s something we like to read. Maybe we had an idea and we ran with it, but we were sprinting in the wrong direction for 70,000 words. 

And sometimes the book you wrote that was wrong, was good. Maybe even good enough. But not really truly YOU. 

The you component is what transforms a bunch of plot points into an unforgettable story. It’s what creates passion and unlocks imagination in a reader. It’s what actually makes the book “on brand” in the first place. 

I’m glad my agent could feel the lack of ME in the book and gently nudged me with her insight & great feedback toward the truth I wasn’t telling. Because the key to good story is getting to the honest truth. It’s dipping into the dark well inside you and finding the deep water hidden there. 

It’s okay to write the wrong book. And it sure feels good to bleed out the right one. 

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Weekly reminder that I work with writers at all levels & stages! You can check out my creative services right here on my website. 🦄

Encourage Growth: Working with a Book Coach

Years ago I was a new writer, a young mom, & recently relocated to Texas after two years in Brooklyn. It was a lot of fresh change and a lot of feeling like treading water waiting to be tugged under. And then I saw this tweet by Nova Ren Suma that she was offering an online Young Adult writing workshop & I leapt at the opportunity to get feedback from her – a writer with an agent & a book deal, a book on shelves. Someone doing the thing I wanted to do.

I was still a raw talent in a lot of ways. Rough edged & not always actually good, but I had written a book & I wanted it to be the best it could be. In that workshop, I learned a lot about what was working in my pages, what wasn’t. I made friends with other writers, one in particular — a fellow screenwriter and YA lover, who was about to move out to LA. (She’s since, in the many many years that have passed, become one of my best friends & the co-author of my dreams.)

But I also got a teacher in Nova, someone I would work with many more times, who would encourage the seeds of my writing to grow. When I started working with writers a few years ago, the one thing I knew I wanted was to help cultivate the dreams & raw talent in my clients. This industry often does a lot of breaking those dreams down, tearing words to shreds, belittling burgeoning artists still learning. Rejection comes with the game, fear and failure are a constant.

But encouragement & good critique & guidance makes space for growth.

Today, one of my coaching clients told me she wanted to work with me forever. And, of course, I beamed, but I also dreamed for her in that moment. I hope one day she’ll have an agent in her corner & she won’t need to work with me anymore.

Because I know the pain of wanting something that still feels out of reach, & I know the work it takes to get there, & even though I can’t make anyone’s dream come true (not even my dreams, of which I have many) I can be a voice of hope, an encourager of story seeds, & a promoter of doing the work even when it’s hard and you fail. If you’re looking for a book coach, an editor, or eyes on your query, I’m taking on clients now and always. ✨

COMMIT

stoop

WRITING DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A HOBBY.

When I was 26 -years-old, I moved to Brooklyn with my husband and son. The move was for my husband’s career — at the time my career was caring for my then two-year-old son. But I had always WANTED to write. To be a WRITER. I had dabbled in it for years- mostly with one act plays and screenplays that lived in perpetually unfinished states of being.

Writing was a hobby, for me, not a career.

I will never forget the moment that changed. I was sitting on my front stoop watching my son draw with chalk on the sidewalk. The sun was low and everything was bathed in orange and pink light. I had just started writing my first novel EVER and I was in that heady stage of early romance with the process. It was unfamiliar and sexy and deeply, unthinkably terrifying.

It was a beautiful evening, and I was doing what I had always done with my time — and LOVED doing — except one thing had changed.

ME.

My fingers itched to type. My head swam with a character’s voice. I was in another world and it was exactly where I wanted to be. Right then and there, I knew I had to commit.
I had to call myself a WRITER.

I had to admit I wanted to make money with my craft. I had to claim the time necessary to get there. Because I wanted it for more than a hobby — I was love-drunk with it and I never wanted to break up. I knew that in order to get where I wanted to go, I had to stop pretending there was anywhere else I COULD go. That any other thing would ever be ENOUGH.

Making the transition from I WRITE IN MY SPARE TIME to I AM A WRITER takes nothing more than a moment of choice. For me, that moment was there on a red brick stoop outside my Brooklyn pad, watching the sunset and knowing I had work yet to do that day. Every time I sit down to write, I commit again. I’ve been committing for seven-years straight. Through multiple novels and screenplays, ghostwriting jobs, and MANY ups and downs in the publishing industry.

I KEEP ON COMMITTING.

If you want to be a writer – then you are one. You don’t need permission. You just need to commit.