This Week: Query-Writing Bootcamp

I wonder how much money I’ve spent on this noveling endeavor.  I’ve taken classes, hired a developmental editor, gone on retreats, entered contests, purchased Snowflake Pro. .. I do believe all of these things have made me and my manuscript better, but shite.  It’s adding up.  Maybe that’s why so many professionals have managed to write novels on the side.  They’re the only ones who can afford it!

Anyway, I bring this up because I have spent money again.

This time on an agent one-on-one Bootcamp through Writer’s Digest.  This is how it works:  you gain access to an online tutorial on query letters and other submission materials taught by two literary agents (Tuesday).  Then, over the next two days you revise accordingly.  You also gain access to a 3-hour discussion board on each day where the agents are required to answer everyone’s questions (Wednesday and Thursday).  On the final day, you submit your query letter and the first 10 pages of your manuscript (or the first 9 pages and a 1-page synopsis) for real-life agents to review (today).  They have two weeks to provide comments.

So that’s what I’ve been up to this week.  Learning, chatting, revising.  I bought the course because I’m at the submission stage and I knew my query needed work.  I wrote it 6 months ago and the experience was so tedious, it actually reminded me of the Law Review competition in law school! ::shudder::

For those of you who don’t know, after a year of enduring the most difficult year of law school and finishing all your finals and submitting all your papers- boom!  You’re asked to write another paper  for a chance to participate in a prestigious extracurricular activity- Law Review.  The competition was, literally, my worst experience in law school.  That’s what writing my query letter was like last summer.  I spent a year and a half writing and editing an entire novel, and when I was done, I had to write a letter that pitched and summarized both my story and myself in 3 paragraphs.  It was ridic.  It sucked.

I did the best I could at the time, but that’s not saying much.  So I figured the Bootcamp would provide me with useful feedback and, more importantly, motivate me to take another stab at the letter with fresh eyes.

I know for a fact my query is a lot better now.  For one thing, it’s more accurate.  Originally, I had been pitching this thing as a love story, now I describe it as a coming-of-age novel.  I also learned from the discussion board that first-time novelists should note if they have used a developmental editor in the query- who knew?  I asked the agents if they found it more difficult to pitch diverse characters/writers to editors.  They more or less said no.

Overall, I would say that the tutorial was fine, but I never would have paid for just that.  The value in this Bootcamp is the interactions with the agents and the feedback I will receive from them, as they read and judge these things literally every day. It also doesn’t hurt that my submission essentially doubles as a pitch.  The agents reserved the right to ask for more pages if they like you and it just so happens that the agency, Kimberley Cameron & Associates, was on my list.

So it’s been a productive week.  I should receive comments by Feb. 7th, and after incorporating the feedback, I will be back to pitching!  In case you’re wondering, yes, I do still have some minor revisions, but nothing crazy.  I’ll be done (again) soon!!

I’ll keep you posted!!



On 6 Pieces of Advice on How to Write Your First Novel

Woohoo!  I managed to get a blog post out before the end of the week.  It was getting iffy there for a while.  I’m also going to have to submit something to my writers group soon—who knows how I will make that happen.  Buuut, we’ll deal with that later.

So I follow the “Writer’s Digest” on Twitter, and they actually post some interesting and useful articles about breaking into the industry, tips for those focused on certain genres, etc.  True, they almost lost me when I saw the tweet “Breaking Into Corporate Writing: Contracts & Rates,” but I let it slide.  I am aware that was/is my life both before law school (financial journalist) and after (corporate lawyer), but this blog and my following Writer’s Digest is all about pretending to be a creative, artsy person.  You know, my secret life as creative writer?  So I wasn’t cool with that tweet at all.  But back to the point.  Writer’s Digest recently posted a link to the article  “How to Write Your First Novel: 6 Pieces of Advice” by a novelist/former cookbook writer named Steven Raichlen.   Might as well check it out…

  1. The world has two sorts of writers: people who talk about writing a novel and people who actually do it.  Word. Talking about writing a novel is lame.
  2. Write a mission statement…and contract.  For reals? A contract? Sigh.  Fine, let’s consider this blog a contract.  The consequence for not meeting my goal will be to write a novel about failing to write a novel.
  3. The secret to writing a novel—or any book—is writing.  For all you aspiring writers out there, this is the one thing I’ve heard consistently.  If you want to finish a book, you need to write every day, period.  I’m thinking about starting that…next week? The week after?
  4. There’s no one right way to write a novel. I guess this counts as advice, although I don’t know how helpful it is.
  5. Write with your eraser (or delete button).  Unlike many writers, I actually love cutting out words.  I’m not married to my prose.  I can do this, no problem!
  6. Take the time to celebrate the milestones in your writing process.  I finished this blog post, yay!

The author elaborates on the advice here.  What do you guys think? Are you ready to write your first novel after reading this?