November 5, 2016
It's November already! When I was younger, time moved slowly, but I'm coming to realize what people mean by the saying, "time flies." Where has this year gone?
2016 has been an eventful year. I planned on it being one of the best years of my life. On the January page of my calendar I wrote, "This is my year! Seize it!" I also added three goals for the year. 1. Sign a contract with an agent. 2. Get a book deal 3. Expand myself - do school visits.
This calendar is the one I use to keep track of writing events, conference dates, webinars, twitter pitch days, my writers group meets, etc., and looking back at the pages, I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment at all the events I participated in. I am putting my work out there, with contests and submissions to agents and publishers.
On February 3rd I pitched on twitter - #Pit2Pub (Pitch to publication), and amazingly had 6 faves on 4 of my manuscripts. From these faves, I found a publisher for my YA romantic fairy tale, The Dragon's Ring. Stephanie Taylor offered me a contract on February 23rd with Clean Reads/Astraea Press, and I returned it, signed, on the 24th.
What a happy, joyous feeling! My story was going to be published!
During the days of celebration, I was also experiencing fear. In early January I was having female health issues, and after numerous doctor visits, a sonogram and a biopsy, I learned I had endometrial cancer, Stage 1. While doing edits for my book, I underwent surgery in mid-March. A total hysterectomy and removal of lymph nodes proved successful. My doctor is confident the cancer is gone. I did not need chemo or radiation, and my only health requirement is quarterly office visits. I believe the knowledge that my book was being published gave me hope and a purpose, and kept me going. I stayed positive and never gave in to feeling sorry for myself or tears. I didn't let my medical issues slow me down and never missed a deadline in returning my edits to my editor.
Believing my release date was August 28th, I received a pleasant surprise from my publisher on August 1st. My book had been released July 28th. Oh happy day! My wonderful, supportive writers/critique group surprised me at the August 1st meeting with a cake decorated like my book cover and gifts. A touching and sentimental gift was a silver charm bracelet with a star (for reach for the stars), and a crown (for the princess in my story).
Since the release of my book, I've been devoting much of my time to interviews on authors' blogs and social media promotions. The Springfield, IL newspaper reporter, Tamara Browning, wrote a 2 page interview for The State Journal Register. I've also designed and had printed nearly 300 bookmarks, with a gold ring tied on each with a ribbon.
Promoting a book is hard work, and trying to keep each interview fresh and different takes time. It's also exciting and esteem building. I'm growing more confident with each new step and hope soon to do number 3 on my goal list, school interviews. I've also visited some area libraries and offered my services.
My next step is to concentrate on goal #1, finding an agent. In between sending submissions, I've also been writing and revising. I've decided to change the POV for my YA series, from 3rd person to 1st, hoping to draw in the reader. The first of the four books is completed. Though part of a series, The London Incident can standalone. So instead of doing NaNoWriMo this year, I'm working on revisions.
2016 has been a remarkable year, and there are still a few weeks left before it ends. Perhaps my final goal will happen before the year plays out. I've had several ups and downs, some terrifying moments as well as ecstatic news. Thanksgiving is November 24th, but after a year like this, I'm starting early to give my thanks. My first huge THANK YOU is to God for watching over me this year, (and always). I have two favorite sayings, "Trust in the Lord," and "Count Your Blessings." When I learned I had cancer, I did both, and am happy to say I'm a survivor with many, many years ahead to continue to do what I love, and that is write.
I'm grateful for my family, my friends, and the people in my writing world, my writers group, the authors I'm friends with on Facebook and in life, my publisher, and the other authors with Clean Reads who continue to offer support and advice. There are so many amazing people in my life, and I wonder sometimes how I came to be so lucky. I'm blessed and grateful for those who have touched my life in a positive way. Thank you, everyone!
Count your blessings and keep writing!
September 28, 2016
Autumn is my favorite season. The air is crisp, cool enough that one doesn't need to run the air conditioner, but not cold enough to turn on the furnace. Gorgeous gold, red and yellow leaves twirling in the wind, jack-o-lanterns grinning from front porches, sitting by a fire with a cup of hot cocoa. What's not to love?
Still revising my YA series. I can't decide which POV I like best. I redid the first book of the series, changing the POV to 1st person, yet those who compare the 2 versions, like the one in 3rd person better. Did I do all that work for nothing? I've engaged a beta reader who has several books published and she is going to let me know which one she likes. I value her opinion and will probably continue working on the one she chooses.
My writers group meets this Monday, Oct. 3, at the Chatham, IL library and I am looking forward to that. I always leave these meetings raring to tackle my next big writing project. I'm excited about November's meeting. That's when we Skype with author Liesl Shurtliff. She's going to discuss character and POV, which I am struggling with.
This month I had three online interviews on authors' blogs and lunch with a fellow writer, Jean Ferratier. Jean is doing an interview of me for her blog and she's calling it Lunch With the Author. The waitress took a great photo of the two of us at our table which Jean is going to post with her article.
My next interview is October 3rd on a blog called Highlighted Author. I'm giving away, via rafflecopter, an e-copy of my book, The Dragon's Ring. I'm hoping for a lot of exposure on this blog as I need to sell more copies. If I sell enough e-copies, my book will go to print.
I had the pleasure of answering an aspiring writer's questions about publishing. I told her a great way to start is to join SCBWI, attend conferences, read Harold Underdown's book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books, and Ann Whitford Paul's book, Writing Picture Books. Today she thanked me for the info, and my reply was, "I love helping writers achieve their dreams." I wouldn't have come as far as I have with my writing career without the help of my writers group, critique partners and authors I've met online and via Facebook and Twitter. They've helped me with my dreams, so it's time to pay it forward.
It's also time to stop writing and enjoy this refreshingly beautiful fall day. Don't just smell the roses, take time to smell the pumpkins.
August 26, 2016
I feel like I'm officially a writer. I had my first newspaper interview. Staff writer for The State Journal Register, or SJ-R, Tamara Browning, telephoned me and asked for an interview. I said, "YES!" Anything to promote my book. It meant having to talk about my battle with cancer while editing my book for publication. I believe Ms. Browning did a superb job. This is the article that was published in Sunday's paper on November 7, 2016.
August 8, 2016
It’s been a hectic two weeks. My book, THE DRAGON’S RING, was released on July 28, 2016 by Clean Reads. I didn’t find out until August 1st! My publisher had told me the wrong date and I was expecting it to be released August 28th. I missed my book launch day! She apologized by saying "I made a biiiggg oopsie."
I wasn’t upset, but I did have to up my game. I thought I had more time to line up interviews and book promotions.
August 1st happened to be the day my writers group, Springfield Scribes, met at the Chatham, IL library. I picked up Jean, a fellow writer, and drove to Chatham. Before heading to the meeting, we ate at Arbys. When I walked into the library, Jerry, our lone male member, greeted me with congratulations on the book release. I figured he saw the announcement I posted on Facebook.
As I walked into our meeting room, everyone started singing. “Congratulations on your book,” to the tune of Happy Birthday. The smiles and happy faces and well wishes from everyone touched my heart. But that wasn’t all! They had a cake for me, decorated like my cover book art with the unicorn’s head on it. And I received cards and gifts. My special gift was a silver charm bracelet with a crown charm to represent my book. (The crown was for the Princess in the story.) There was also a star charm with the saying, “Reach for the Stars.” Two fun gifts were glow in the dark crowns and hearts, and a pink fairy that will grow 600% its size when left in water for 3 days.
My face froze in a happy smile and stayed that way all evening. What a fantastic group of writers in my group. They’re all much more talented than I, but I was the lucky one to find a publisher. They rejoiced for me and were happy for me. Their time will come, I know, because I’ve read their work, and their writing is astounding.
The next few days I made contact with two libraries, New Berlin, where I attended grade school, and the Chatham library. I sent media information to the Springfield Journal Register and the County Tribune, signed up on Storyfinds to promote my book, and on InD’Tale to not only promote, but to have a book review.
Today I signed on with Authorgraph.com so if anyone would like a printable digital message and autograph, they can go to https://www.authorgraph.com and request one
I’ve been posting my book trailer and teaser on twitter and Facebook, been interviewed on a Clean Reads author’s website. Suzanne Thomas lives in New Zealand, so my book is getting world-wide attention.
Another interview is being posted soon, two more are lined up in September, and one in October.
Here again is where my book is now available:
iTunes and B&N are coming
Writing a book is the easy part. The hard part is promoting it. It takes a ton of energy and time and hard work; but it’s worth it.
August 1, 2016
I plan to post more later, but want to announce that THE DRAGON'S RING is now available. All along I thought my release date was August 28th as that's what my publisher told me when she sent the Galleys. Today I had an email from her with an apology. She headed the email: I made a biiiiggg oopsie! and then told me the release date was July 28th. I missed it!!! I laughed, and was happy that it's now out there. It can be found at these links:
BN, Overdrive, and iTunes links aren't yet available.
I hope you'll check it out and tell your friends.
June 23, 2016
The last couple of months I've done some editing for THE DRAGON'S RING. Tuesday I received the Cover Art and the Galleys. Amanda L. Matthews did an amazing job on the cover. She showcased the Unicorn with the dragon's ring dangling on its spiral horn. Juli Caveny is helping me with the Galleys. Once the Gallerys are returned with the final editorial changes, the book will be ready. Release date is August 28, 2016. Today I have an interview on Kristen Van Risseghem's blog with my cover reveal. Kristen's blog is about #Pit2Pub success stories. Thanks to twitter, I found my publisher. I have 2-3 other interviews lined up. Yesterday I made a slide show/book trailer using Power Point, and will be posting it soon. The excitement is building!
Besides working on THE DRAGON'S RING, I revised THE LONDON INCIDENT, changing the POV to 1st person. Dru is the one telling her story. I've sent out queries on this version, and if accepted by an agent or publisher, I will then change the POV to Dru's on the other three novels in this series. A lot of work, yes, but worth it if my book goes to publication.
I have the feeling the next couple of months will be amazing!
April 15, 2016
Just a quick note. Today is April 15; and when I checked Lisa Abellera's site on twitter, she had posted the link to her online submission form for this one month MG submission period, April 15 - May 15. I submitted the MG I tried the other day. Difference - I had the right day! I also submitted it to 3 other agents seeking the same type of MG. Fingers crossed.
I also entered the first 800 words of my YA, THE LONDON INCIDENT, in Rate Your Story's writing contest. I'm considering entering a MG and a PB, too.
I spent the afternoon at a clarity session by a fellow writer, Jean Ferratier, and learned how to accept compliments. I also found a sense of peace and restfulness. The hot herbal tea afterwards was also relaxing.
Did I say, "Just a quick note?" LOL
Enjoy your day and keep writing!
April 14, 2016
Writing and loving it!
I recently edited and revised a MG about two girls who survived a tornado. It's one I wrote some time ago; but it's always been a favorite of mine. Every time I read it, I cry. Not that it ends on a sad note. There's just some sad stuff in the story. The ending is filled with hope, something everyone needs.
Yesterday I did a silly thing. I remember reading that Lisa Abellera, though closed to submissions, would accept MG queries from April 15 to May 15. I spent two days formating my manuscript about the tornado, wrote a query letter to this agent, and then sent the email. She sent back a letter saying she wasn't open to queries. I thought, "What?" and then tried to find the article where it said she was. Finally, it dawned on me that the date was April 13. It wasn't the 15th yet! Duh!
I checked the Manuscript Wish List site and saw that Peter Knapp was seeking MGs. I typed a query letter and sent him TORNADO TALES this afternoon. I believe he would be a great agent to work with. He's critiqued or given me feedback on a couple of query letters in the past, and I appreciated his help and input.
Tuesday night an Illinois author, Carolyn Crimi, did a presentation at the Chatham Public Library. Chatham is about 25 miles from my home, and I decided to go and check out her books. Three other writers from my writers group were there; and the room was packed with adults and children. Carolyn did a fabulous job. I don't know when I've laughed so much, and the children loved her. She had them hanging on to her every word. I bought her book, PUGS IN A BUG, a darling story about dogs that ride around in cars. She owns a pug, so I know where she found her inspiration.
When she signed my book, I told her I enjoyed her program as much, if not more, than the children. She was a kind and gracious author, and took time with each child as she signed their books and posed for pictures.
I want to do what Carolyn does, travel to schools and libraries, and interact with the children. Having an e-book Picture book, I could; but then I would have no books to sign. My upcoming release, THE DRAGON'S RING, is also an e-book. My goal this year is to find an agent/publisher and have a book traditionally published, as a paperback or hardback.
Tomorrow, it's back to Chatham for a workshop with a writer friend. Jean is a life coach, and I hope to learn ways to improve myself and my life.
I told my brother tonight I plan to submit a story a day, either to an agent or publisher. Goodness knows, I have enough polished manuscripts in my files!
So keep writing and hold fast to your dreams!
April 9, 2016
No posts in March, but I have a good reason. Since January I had some medical problems. A biopsy in February showed I had endometrial cancer, and in March I had a total hysterectomy and some lymph nodes removed. So the last few weeks I've been recovering, taking it easy. I'm happy to report that my doctor believes the cancer is gone. I put my trust in the Lord and He took care of me.
Just because I had surgery did not keep me from my writing. Before my biopsy I finished the pre-edits on my book and sent my manuscript to my publisher. The next edits arrived the week after my surgery. This time I had five changes to make; add and ed to a verb, take off an s, remove a quotation mark, change a capital K to a lower case k, and correct the spelling on one word. "Not bad," I told myself. "Only five mistakes."
I thought I was finished editing. Wrong! April 7th I received my line edits. Sonia did a superb job editing my manuscript line by line. I had more work cut out for me. I agreed with all of Sonia's ideas and suggestions. She highlighted some areas that needed extra work, and I made the changes and rewrote several lines so the story made sense. I had no idea so much work was involved in preparing a manuscript for publication. I read the manuscript six times to make certain I didn't leave out any detail. Finally, I was satisfied, and today I sent the changes to Sonia, two days ahead of the deadline she gave me.
Besides working on my contracted story, I kept up with Carrie Brown's posts for ReFoReMo, posting comments each day and reading mentor texts. I also sent one of my stories to Pockets Magazine for their fiction contest. I submitted a story to SCBWI for a work-in-progress grant, and did not miss a writers group meeting. I also helped a friend edit four pages of the story she plans to submit to Chicken Soup for the Soul.
Yesterday I attended another writers group session in Chatham, and I've been working on adding to my social media presence via different links. (I'll post these links below.) My writing has helped me heal. It has given me a purpose, something to do to keep my mind off my health. And I can proudly say my illness did not keep me away from doing the thing I love most, writing.
I want to add that writers are the most supportive group of people I've had the priviledge to know. When someone has good news to share, such as an agent's request for a FULL or a contract offer, writers immediately offer their well wishes and congratulations on Facebook and twitter. The support I've received from other writers, many whom I don't even know, is heartwarming.
When I received the cancer diagnosis, my writers group supported me then, too, with emails offering prayers and their services in case I needed a ride to the doctors or shopping done. They even sent food after I came home from the hospital. I am so lucky to be a part of this wonderful group, and I cherish each and everyone of them.
Here are my links, ways you can connect with me or learn more about my writing.
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/DebraDaughertyauthor
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7579797.Debra_Daugherty
You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCC9JHKGLK2P97tAcnFdHhjQ
You Tube user name: ddaugherty329
Skype Name: debra.daugherty5
Skype email address: email@example.com
I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful spring weather. I don't even mind the rain as I know it helps the flowers to bloom.
And remember to always keep writing, no matter what curve balls or obstacles life throws at you!
February 28, 2016
At the beginning of the year I wrote on a calendar, "This is my year! Seize it!" My prediction is coming true!
In my last blog I wrote about twitter's #Pit2Pub, (Pitch to publication). One of the two publishers who requested THE DRAGON'S RING offered me a contract last Tuesday, February 23rd. I signed and returned the contract the next day. I'm on my way!
The next day I received an author's packet with forms to fill out, such as information about my story, info on me, dedication, blurb for back cover, cover art ideas, a W-9 for taxes, a pre-edit guideline sheet, etc.
The last few days I've been editing, removing words like really, very, turned, grinned, smiled and looked, getting rid of excessive adverbs, formatting according to publisher's wishes. It has been tedious work, but it's also been fun.
A few minutes ago I returned my polished manuscript and the other forms to my publisher. I'm ready for the next step, more editing.
The same day I was offered a contract for THE DRAGON'S RING, I heard from the agent who requested a FULL on my YA contemporary mystery, THE LONDON INCIDENT. It was the nicest rejection letter I ever received. She loved the concept of the story and felt the characters were really well developed, but struggled to connect to the plot. I wrote her a thank you note and she immediately wrote back saying it was a tough decision, but if I did revise, she'd love to take another look. I like this agent and hoped to work with her. The door's still open, there's still a chance. I just need to do more work on my storyline.
So I had good news and semi-good news the same day. I'm excited about being published. Check out the Clean Reads site at www.CleanReads.com. You'll find some wonderful stories at great prices. And keep checking back because someday THE DRAGON'S RING will be on their list.
I created an author's page on Facebook. Here's the link: https://www.facebook.com/DebraDaughertyauthor
Other links I have are: https://facebook.com/debra.daugherty.58 and https://pinterest.com/ddaugherty329
Find me on twitter @dmddeb
My advice to struggling writers like myself, don't give up. Just keep on writing. Your day will come!
February 7, 2016
What a busy month, and it's only day seven!
February 1st was free submission day for Rate Your Story. I sent MY GRANDMOTHER'S QUILT, a story I wrote the week before. I also took this story to my writers group meeting that night. The story is about a how a child learns the importance of a family heirloom. The ladies at the meeting liked and related to the story, and offered minimal changes. I polished it yesterday in time to mail to Highlights for Children.
Wednesday was twitter's #Pit2Pub and I posted pitches for 7 stories; 3 PBs, 3 chapter books and my YA. I received 3 faves on the YA, and 2 on the chapter book about the dragon's ring and one on the story about the leprechauns. The publisher who requested the leprechaun story said it wasn't right for their company, but wrote: "This is adorable. "I like your writing style. Feel free to submit something else a bit older." What a nice rejection!
Within an hour of submitting the synopsis, outline and 2 sample chapters of the YA, I received an email asking for a FULL. This was their message: "Your pitch is on a special list so has been forwarded to an editor promptly. We've reviewed your synopsis chapters and would like to read through the entire manuscript. Could you please email it to us as one of our senior editors is interested in reading it." WOW! Was I excited! Funny thing about this manuscript. I had no outline, other than scribbles in a notebook. I had to write the outline before I submitted and I had forty chapters to outline. Also, the publisher asked for 2 sample chapters to begin with, any two chapers as long as the first chapter was one of them. I sent the first chapter and the 25th.
My pitches must be improving to get six faves in one twitter contest. Thursday, Feb. 11th is #PBPitch and #PitMatch. I plan to do both.
The 4th was Sub It Club Pitch Day and I pitched my YA on their blog. Agent Shira Hoffman of McIntosh & Otis read everyone's pitch and left comments. If she liked the pitch, she asked for more. Baseball was mentioned in my pitch and she wrote she just was not a basebal fan. She didn't ask for more, but her comments were helpful.
I had an idea for pitching to agents. Like speed dating, only my idea is called speed pitching. I wrote Alice McGinty, a coordinator for the Illinois SCBWI Chapter and told her about my idea. Wouldn't it be cool if my plan was implemented?
Friday was Hen & Ink Literary Studio's OPEN COOP DAY. I submitted a MG story I wrote a few years ago about a rescued hawk. The story is based on a true story. My niece picked up a wounded hawk off the highway and cared for it until it was well enough to be released.
Cynda Strong, head of my writers group, challenged everyone to enter the SCBWI Write This! February Contest. In 100 words one is to write a true scene from their own life that could be an inspiration for a children's or YA book. I wrote about the birds fighting for the food I set out. Blue Jays versus Cardinals. Also, a woodpecker, squirrel and cat get into the battle.
This Friday is a writer's meeting at the Coffee House in Chatham. The talk is going to be about publishing.
FEBRUARY is turning out to be a busy and productive month. Today I let you in on what I've been doing to advance my writing career and to grow as a writer. My advice to everyone is to not get discouraged, but to keep on writing. And since this is Super Bowl Sunday, enjoy the game!
January 13, 2016
Whoa! It doesn't seem possible. Another new year is in full swing.
Always on my mind is my writing. I wake up thinking about what revisions I need to make. I spend hours on the keyboard and at night I lie awake plotting new scenerios and changes I want to incorporate. Yes, I can't deny it. I am a writer. In need of caffeine. LOL
My caffeine addition is tea, iced or hot. It helps to keep me focused and gives me the boost of energy to keep writing.
This year is going to be my year. I actually wrote that on my calendar January 1st. THIS IS MY YEAR! SEIZE IT!
I also wrote three goals: Sign a contract with an agent, Get a book deal with a traditional publisher - one who pays advances and royalties, and expand my horizons by doing school visits. Check back December 31st to see if my goals are met.
Part of reaching my goal is revising my novel so it shines, even though it's already been edited. I found three wonderful authors who critiqued my first 3 chapters, and one is going to help me with the whole manuscript. Their suggestions and insights have proven most helpful.
January 4th was the first meeting of my writers group, The Scribes. We met at Panera Bread, with eight in attendance. We were to share our pitches for our manuscripts, but prior to the meeting I volunteered to do a presentation on Query letters. I've written enough of them to feel fairly confident I knew what I was talking about. In 2015 I sent out over a hundred and I showed my group the pile of rejection letters I've received.
Along with the rejections I had several agents/publishers who asked for a FULL. (I must be doing something right even though they passed.) Many agents wrote personal comments of encouragement. I'm grateful for these. They keep me going.
I presently have an agent reading my full manuscript and should hear back by mid February. 2015 I also had a 1 rating from Rate Your Story and won first place in a writing contest with a $100 cash prize. Two royalty checks also came in on my picture book CALAMITY CAT.
So at the meeting I shed my fear of speaking and gave a decent presentation. I also passed out sheets with a sample query letter and my formula for doing queries and pitches. My query letter was on a fake story, but now I feel compelled to write that story. That will be a first, a query written about a story before the story is written.
January 10th I heard back via Facebook messaging from Juli, a teacher/writer in the group. She wrote: Had to share. I GOT A REQUEST FOR A FULL! YA! I truly believe your query tips helped! Thanks so much!
Juli's message made my day. She's a terrific writer and has helped me so much with my novel and other works. I'm glad I could return the favor.
A couple of days ago a fellow writer who's part of the SUB IT CLUB Facebook page asked for query letter help. I sent her a copy of my notes and since then four other authors have asked for the notes. I've decided to paste these notes to this blog and hopefully they'll be helpful to others. (Keep this in mind when reading my query tips - When I pasted my notes, I found it showed spaces between the literary agency and agent's name - and between my contact information and web presence at the end of my letter. I don't leave a space between these places, but can't seem to be able to fix it on this page.)
Here they are:
Be professional. Check agent’s website and follow submission guidelines.
Keep query short/brief/error free. Be concise, 3-4 paragraphs. Intro, Pitch/Overview, Bio, Closing. Single space with space between paragraphs.
Do not send to Dear Agent. Do your homework and find an agent that you feel will be right for you and your work. Do not mass produce. Agents like to feel the query is personally for them. I use the same query letter, but change each one to reflect that agent’s interest.
I usually type my query letter in Word Doc., Times New Roman, 12 pt., and then paste it to the email. If you paste your query letter in the email, and are sending to more than one agent, be sure to change the agent’s name and literary agency’s info on each letter before pasting. Don’t send a Dear Mr. Doe letter to a Ms. Smith.
EMAIL SUBJECT LINE: On the agent’s website, it may say what to put in the subject line - follow the guidelines. Otherwise, put QUERY – Agent’s Name - TITLE of manuscript – Genre.
SUBJECT LINE Example: QUERY – John Doe - THE SCAREDY CAT TIGER – PB
SALUTATION: Address agent as: Dear John Doe: not Hi, John, or Hey, John.
INTRO - In the first paragraph you can mention why you are submitting to that particular agent. Perhaps you met at a conference or heard them speak. You read an article about them or learned on their website they are seeking manuscripts like yours.
Give the TITLE, WORD COUNT, GENRE AND TARGET AUDIENCE.
Title should be in italics, ALL CAPS or within “quotation marks” to stand out. Choose one, not all.
Word Count – PB’s – 1000 or less. 500 or less is the new norm.
Genre: PB -Picture Book, MG – Middle Grade, YA – Young Adult, Non-fiction, contemporary, mystery, romance, sci-fi.
Target Audience – specify age group - could be for children with disabilities, toddlers, etc.
In a query letter, it is customary to use comparisons. Liken your story to two similar published works.
Mention your concept. What is the theme of the story?
INTRO EXAMPLE: When we met at the SCBWI conference in June, you mentioned you like quirky picture books. That is why I am submitting THE SCAREDY-CAT TIGER, a 500 word PB for ages 3-5, for your perusal. The little tiger in this story, like the cowardly lion in THE WIZARD OF OZ or Robin in Mira Drori’s I AM AFRAID OF THE DARK, teaches children that although it’s okay to be afraid; conquering their fear should be their goal.
PITCH – The second paragraph do your pitch, aka THE HOOK – or LOGLINE. Pique the agent’s interest without giving away the story. Make them want more with just 1-3 sentences. Conclude with a reference to the theme, but don’t tell how the hero succeeds.
HOOK OR PITCH FORMULA:
When _________ happens, HERO must ____________ in order to __________THEME.
Avoid using rhetorical questions in a pitch. – EXAMPLE: Don’t say, “Will Little Tiger find a way out of the hole?” The answer is obvious – of course he will or there wouldn’t be a story.
Tell, don’t show. Don’t reveal the whole story/ending. Don’t overuse adjectives.
PITCH EXAMPLE: Little Tiger is afraid of everything, especially the dark. When his sister gets lost in the woods, Little Tiger looks for her, only to fall into a deep, dark hole. Now he must find a way to conquer his fear so he can escape his trap and save his sister before the hyenas find her.
BIO – In the third paragraph tell something about yourself that pertains to writing. List your publications. If you don’t have anything published, don’t worry. Don’t list your day job unless it pertains to your story. If you are writing for kindergarten children and are or were a kindergarten teacher, mention it. If you’re writing a science story and teach science, mention it.
BIO EXAMPLE: I am a member of SCBWI. My most recent publications include picture book CALAMITY CAT, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and two short stories in Guardian Angel Kids.
CLOSING/CONCLUSION: Thank the agent by name for his/her time and trouble. If you are including the manuscript or first five pages or first three chapters or synopsis, mention that, and how it’s included, either attached or pasted to the email. Most agents want the sample pages/chapters pasted to the email.
Do not send attachments or links unless noted to do so in the agent’s guidelines. Follow the agency’s directions. If it says to name or label the attachment by TITLE_author’s name, do it that way. EXAMPLE: THE SCAREDY-CAT TIGER_Debra Daugherty.
If the agent wants attachment as Word.doc., send it that way, not PDF or other formats.
If you have illustrations, follow guidelines on how to send. Some PB agents are now only taking on author/illustrators.
You can mention if you have other works in progress: This shows you’re not a one-book wonder.
CLOSING EXAMPLE: Thank you, Mr. Doe, for your time and consideration. I shall be looking forward to your response. Pasted to this email is my manuscript. I have other works, and upon request, I would be pleased to submit them, also.
SIGN OFF - Be professional in signing off. Sincerely, or Best Wishes are okay, but don’t type Hopefully yours, Cheers, or anything cute or informal.
Be sure to give your contact information: phone number, email address. You can also list websites/blogs/twitter info so the agent can check you out.
More on Queries –
Don’t take it personally if you get a rejection. Agents keep their lists small to devote time equally to all their clients, so they pass on very good projects. A rejection is a business decision.
If you don’t hear from an agent after specified time in their website, such as 3 months, wait a couple more weeks and then nudge or send a reminder about your original query. Some agents state if you don’t get a response within a specified time period, it’s a pass.
I don’t reply to a rejection letter UNLESS the agent had taken time to write me a personal note expressing what he/she liked about the story and explaining why it wasn’t a fit for them. If the rejection letter was friendly and offered encouragement, I sometimes send a short/very brief thank you for their consideration and kind reply.
Never send a retaliation letter to a rejection.
Do not send a query letter to two agents in the same firm. If you get a rejection from one, wait a while and then query the other, unless the agency states a rejection by one agent is a rejection by all. Also, do not send more than one query at a time to an agent. If he/she is interested in your manuscript, they will likely ask if you have more work to share.
SAMPLE EMAIL QUERY LETTER
SUBJECT LINE OF EMAIL: QUERY – John Doe - THE SCAREDY-CAT TIGER – PB
January 4, 2016
ATTN: John Doe, Agent
Dear Mr. Doe:
When we met at the SCBWI conference in June, you mentioned you like quirky picture books. That is why I am submitting THE SCAREDY-CAT TIGER, a 500 word PB for ages 3-5, for your perusal. The little tiger in this story, like the cowardly lion in THE WIZARD OF OZ or Robin in Mira Drori’s I AM AFRAID OF THE DARK, teaches children that although it’s okay to be afraid; conquering their fear should be their goal.
Little Tiger is afraid of everything, especially the dark. When his sister gets lost in the woods, Little Tiger looks for her, only to fall into a deep, dark hole. Now he must find a way to conquer his fear so he can escape his trap and save his sister before the hyenas find her.
I am a member of SCBWI. My most recent publications include picture book CALAMITY CAT, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and two short stories in Guardian Angel Kids.
Thank you, Mr. Doe, for your time and consideration. I shall be looking forward to your response. Pasted to this email is my manuscript. I have other works, and upon request, I would be pleased to submit them, also.
AGENT’S EMAIL ADDRESS. (I usually add this last so I don’t accidently hit send before I’ve finished and polished my letter.)
SUBJECT LINE OF EMAIL: QUERY – Agent’s name – TITLE of MS. – GENRE
(Or put on this line what agent asks for from his/her submission guidelines)
DATE (not necessary as email will show date, but I think it looks more professional)
NAME OF LITERARY AGENCY
ATTN: AGENT’S NAME
SALALUTATION (Dear Ms. agent’s name:)
FIRST PARAGRAPH - INTRODUCTION (Tell agent why you chose to submit to him/her - include TITLE, WORD COUNT, GENRE AND TARGET AUDIENCE – offer comparison titles.)
SECOND PARAGRAPH – PITCH/OVERVIEW – BRIEF SUMMARY OF YOUR MANUSCRIPT. (Don’t give away the ending – keep some suspense.)
THIRD PARAGRAPH – BRIEF BIO (List your writing credits, if you’re a member of SCBWI, and if pertinent to your story, list your writing credentials.)
FOURTH PARAGRAPH – CONCLUSION/CLOSING (Thank the agent by name for his/her time and consideration. Tell how many pages you are submitting and how – pasted or attached – as per agent’s guidelines.)
SIGN OFF (Sincerely, Best Regards,)
YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION (phone number, email address)
YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE (twitter name, website, blog, etc. - This is optional, but agent will look you up, so make it easy for them.)