agenting · querying

Why I Reject Queries

Agents get a lot of queries, way more than we can represent. That means a lot of competition for querying writers. Believe me, I have plenty of experience querying as well and understand the frustration. Sometimes being an agent and knowing how it all works soothes the rejection, but not always. Rejecting queries is my least favorite part of agenting. I know how those rejections feel having been on the other end of them. But when it comes down to it agents might only take a handful of new authors a year but receive hundreds of queries. Currently I’m building my client list with vigor, which means I’m hungrily looking to fill out my list, but even then I still get way more queries than I can represent.

So why do I reject queries? A lot of people assume the majority of rejections are due to bad writing or us hating the queries. Most queries where the writing falls short just need another round or two of edits or are newer authors who will improve with time. Often a project needed one more round of edits before querying, but there is too much editing needed for me to feel comfortable taking on the project. I’m a big fan of Revise and Resubmits because if this is the case but I love the project, I’ll request a R&R to see how the author handles the edits. Being able to edit well is a key to success as an author. Continue reading “Why I Reject Queries”

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agenting · querying

The Pitch Letter

I’ve been thinking about pitch letters to editors a lot lately, mainly because I’m working on several. Authors are always talking about querying agents, but I notice many don’t know what to expect when their agent pitches editors. Basically the pitch letter is querying 2.0, but this time to editors. What makes the pitch letter more difficult is they can vary more than your regular queries in style. I’ve seen completely different approaches to pitching. Agents hone their own pitch styles. Some even prefer to call up editors to pitch over the phone.

I remember during one of my internships we did an exercise where all of us interns wrote a pitch for the same project. None of them were the same. Even when we focused on the same aspects of the book, we all chose a different wording. All the pitches varied depending on each intern’s own style and what stood out to them. I’ve talked about subjectivity playing a role in offers and sales before, but subjectivity can also play a role in how an agent pitches. Continue reading “The Pitch Letter”

Reading · Reviews · self publishing

Book Review: Wool

Wool is part of Hugh Howey’s Silo series. Wool is about a post-apocalyptic America where people live in underground silos. I’ve already read the second book in the series, Shift, and I find the world building of the series brilliant. I also wanted to review this because Hugh Howey got famous for his indie success before getting a print only deal with a major publisher. If you haven’t read any indie books but like post apocalyptic fiction, I recommend this series. Hugh Howey also has a lot of other great science fiction books.

So what’s it about? Sheriff Holston misses his wife and is breaking under his grief. He asks to go outside, a big taboo for the residents due to the toxic air outside. Juliette gets appointed sheriff after Holston against her will. However, Holston’s decision set off a chain of reactions leading to an uprising and some of the sordid history of the silos being revealed. Continue reading “Book Review: Wool”

querying · Writing

Querying Mistakes to Avoid

During my time reading queries whether for myself or another agent, I’ve seen the same mistakes over and over. Querying is hard and you don’t want to be your own biggest barrier to finding representation. If you’ve done your research these mistakes shouldn’t be a problem. However, many of the authors I see making these mistakes often appear to have not done their research on querying and end up hurting themselves right out of the gate. Remember to always be prepared and well-informed to give yourself the best chance!

Not following submission guidelines. I see this far too often. If an agent says to query them on a specific form or at a specific email, do so. Not following guidelines is an easy way to get your query rejected and possibly not even seen by an agent. Guidelines exist for a reason and going against them will make you stand out, but not for a good reason. Make sure you are pitching agents who represent your genre and age category. Don’t get yourself started off on the wrong foot by not following guidelines. Continue reading “Querying Mistakes to Avoid”

Reading · Reviews

Book Review: The Lost Season of Love and Snow

The Lost Season of Love and Snow is about Russian poet Alexander Pushkin’s wife Natalya. I loved this book and recommend it to fans of Russian history, controversial female figures, and historical dramas. While it is heavily character driven, the book kept me riveted. I can see this appealing to fans of books such as The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence and My Dear Hamilton.

Alexander Pushkin is Russia’s most famous poet. When he dies from wounds inflicted in a duel meant to protect his wife’s honor, Natalya is blamed for his death. The story explores Natalya’s story from how she met Alexander, their dramatic marriage, and his death and the events leading to it. While there is tragedy to this book, the romance helps keep the book from becoming too dark and gloomy and while avoiding spoilers, the ending let’s you walk away on a positive note. Continue reading “Book Review: The Lost Season of Love and Snow”

Editing · Writing

Character Motivations

Like many things, character motivations can make or break a story. When motivations fall flat it can be hard to connect to characters or understand their actions. Weak motivations can cause issues with other aspects, like plot and stakes. Let’s discuss issues to avoid and how to make sure your character has strong and clear motivations.

First off, when a character doesn’t know why they are doing something my interest wanes especially if this happens in the first chapter when the stakes are being set up. If a character doesn’t know, it doesn’t tell me about them or why I should care. In fact, it makes their actions feel unimportant. It’s often a big red flag when a character even thinks “I don’t know why” in regards to their actions and motivations. If they don’t understand themselves, the readers can’t understand. This makes their actions feel forced for the sake of plot. Motivations help develop characters and their role in the story.  Forcing motivations for the sake of plot causes characterization and as well as motives to suffer in return. Continue reading “Character Motivations”

Reading

Greek Mythology Book Recs

Ever since I was a kid I loved Greek mythology. I read everything I could get my hands on and then when I moved into my teen years I started reading romance that included Greek mythology elements. These days I love books that play on the famous stories of mythology and ancient Greece while keeping them in Ancient Greece. Below I’ve included some of my favorite recent reads as well as books I’m looking forward to reading this year.

First up is the author Madeline Miller. She is the queen of Greek mythology in my opinion. She even got her BA and MA in Classics. This year I read her books Circe and The Song of Achilles and they were fantastic. You can read my review of Achilles here. Both stories are set in the world I’ve always imagined them taking place in, which is Ancient Greece with a dash of magic and vengeful gods. Continue reading “Greek Mythology Book Recs”