The Joys of Querying Literary Agents for the First Time

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Querying Literary Agents For the First Time

If you’re an author querying literary agents, let the joy begin. Writing a manuscript is daunting enough, but let’s talk about the joys of querying literary agents. I published my first memoir and book, Manifesting Me: A Story of Rebellion and Redemption with a hybrid press. It gave me the opportunity to learn about the business of being an author. With that said, I wanted to try publish my debut novel in the traditional way. That involves querying literary agents.

Where To Begin Querying

Where does one begin this process of querying agents? Me? If I don’t know how to do something, YouTube is my best friend and teacher. Book Ends Literary agency has a wonderful and informative channel on everything querying along with some other channels. https://www.youtube.com/c/BookEndsLiteraryAgency I find this one most helpful and honest.

First, you must have your manuscript complete to the best of your ability, have a one sentence hook, break down your manuscripts into first 10 pages, 30 pages, 50 pages, synopsis, your word count, know your genre, and most importantly your query letter. Fortunately, most literary agents tell you exactly what they want you to submit.

Research, Research, and More Research

Research, research, and more research on literary agents is vital and the most time consuming part, which you would think writing would be. Ok, the writing is more enjoyable, at least that’s my opinion.  And the odds are not really in your favor. I’ve listened to many agents’ interviews on the topic and what I gathered is it’s about 1 out of 100 queries that are accepted. Those are kind of frustrating odd. But you need to be smart and not waste your time on agents that would have absolutely no interest in your genre. If you could read one of their clients’ book to give you a sense of what they like, is a good option. Although, after researching as many literary agents as I have, I don’t read that quickly to read that many books.

The good news is there is most likely someone out there for you, which calls for some faith and stamina. You have to think of this as a search for a business partner. So, you wouldn’t want someone that doesn’t want you. I am in the process of querying at this very moment of writing this blog and have yet to get a request for my full manuscript.

Is There a Time to Give Up?

Giving up isn’t really my thing. I’ve worked too hard, like most writers, to only throw in the towel. I am hoping that whoever reads this, doesn’t give up, also. That doesn’t mean we may not have try something different, do a little tweaking to the query or even to your manuscript. Understanding that all topics won’t resonate with all agents. Everyone struggles at some point, and this process may not seem fair, but life isn’t fair, nor was it meant to be. We learn when we overcome our obstacles. These obstacles will only make us better writers. So embrace rejection and learn from it.

Wouldn’t it be sad if you gave up just before the next literary agent would’ve given you a contract? There doesn’t seem to be much joy in querying agents when you are only receiving rejections, but many of the greatest and most successful authors have experienced this too. Thank goodness, they didn’t give up. What would we do without Stephen King, J. K. Rowling, or Jack Canfield?

It’s been awhile since my last blog, because I’ve been working on the manuscript that I am actively querying. I’d love to hear where you are in your process and how you feel about it. Try to find joy in querying agents, because this is one part of the author’s journey. Happy querying.

“It’s part of life to have obstacles. It’s about overcoming obstacles; that’s the key to happiness.”

Herbie Hancock

 

Finding Your Tribe

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Have You Found Your Tribe?

Part of the human experience is the need to be loved, feel safe, and be accepted.  Everyone wants to find their tribe. I’ve searched in many places, some good, and some, not so good. But I’m only going to focus on the good today. You can out find more about my quest in my memoir – Manifesting Me.

Writer’s Retreat

In the beginning of November I had the pleasure of attending She Writes/Spark Press/She Reads Author Retreat in the lovely Boulders Resort in Arizona.

I had never gone to any sort of retreat in my life.  I can’t express how deeply this retreat has opened and filled my heart.

Writers are an interesting breed. Most of them are introverts, unlike myself.  My energy can be too much for the introverted person, therefor, I reeled in my energy. Listening more than talking, was my goal.  I thoroughly enjoy hearing other people’s stories and processes; not to mention the speakers that were featured.

Speakers At The Retreat

We learned from Ingram Publishing Services how distribution works. We had publicists from different companies share what to expect when starting a publicity campaign. A VP of Publisher Weekly magazine spoke of what their services do, and their contribution to book industry. BookBub had a representative informing us how to utilize their website for users and authors. The owner of the Poisoned Pen gave hope to any bookstore owner.  The CEO of SparkPoint Studio, Crystal Patriarche, along side with Brooke Warner from She Writes Press, welcomed us and got the retreat started. Last but definitely not least, was our keynote speaker, Jesmyn Ward, an award winning and best selling author.

An Emotional Speech

Absorbing all of the information was intense, but in a very positive way. I never thought of a writing retreat as an emotional event before. Jesmyn’s speech during our dinner, was reiterating people’s need for acceptance and to live in a safe world. Isn’t that what everyone wants? To live in a safe world to be the best you can be?

She talked about her experience as a black woman, once she found out she was pregnant each time.  Jesmyn spoke of the fears of motherhood and how her family history played a role.

As a white woman,  growing up in a lower income area of Oakland, CA in 70’s and 80’s, I could relate to the “wanting to feel safe” part.  My situation was centered in one place. Her fear followed her. Everyone wants to feel safe.

Authenticity

Many authors can write, but are not always the best at public speaking. Jesmyn’s speech was brilliant. You could feel her authenticity, which I believe is what holds the attention of the audience.

I had never been in a writer’s workshop. Jesmyn led one which helped me understand, I am intuitive writer. She gave tips and exercises for better writing.  They may have seemed simple for the educated writer, but for a novice like myself, I found it very useful.

My New Tribe

The best part of the retreat was meeting and making life long connections with other authors.  No one could possibly understand what it was like having such a supportive group of woman.  I went out of my comfort zone and deliberately met new people. Their interest in each other and in me was genuine and sincere. And vice versa. We have a secret online community, but I was a little shy on asking for help from strangers.

Everyone became like one big family by the end of the retreat. I don’t ever remember being in a group with that many people and feeling infinitely supported and connected. I have successfully found my tribe.

“Ultimately, we actually all belong to only one tribe, to Earthlings.”

~ Jill Tarter