Querying and Nano

This morning Query Tracker marked day 15 since I submitted my first query. In the interim, I have received two form rejections neither from the agent that lit the fire under my butt when I first saw she was open to submissions and started me querying.

To distract myself from the querying trenches I decided to participate in Nano and draft the book I started drafting last Nano and lost because I didn’t backup to the cloud! Magella’s story – as I am referring to it; has taken on a whole new life to what it had been a year ago and I have added a new POV, Ma’Heanna, to tell her story and how she ended up becoming the villain.

As a plantser I start with very basic details about my characters and plot. I know who my main characters are, I know where their journey starts and where I want their journey to end, and I kind of know what lessons I want them to learn or struggles I want them to face. But their path, their choices, their reactions to situations and their personal growth I can only write as they develop into their full selves throughout their journey.

It’s exciting not knowing how someone will react to finding themselves the kidnapper or the kidnappee and wondering how they got into that situation. When they grow in their relationship with their partner and learn new things about themselves; or, in the case of Magella, makes a complete transphobic ass of herself when she first meets her future mother-in-law and has to reevaluate her own opinions of self and long-held ideas on gender.

I don’t know yet just how Magella will overcome those challenges but there is a certain excitement in facing those challenges with her and helping Magella find the path forward best for her.

Working on Magella’s (and Ma’Heanna’s) Story is also making me consider parts of my first novel (the one out for query). Even now I think of different scenes and way’s in which I could improve it; I think of the opening chapter and consider small changes that would better reflect the tone of the story I am introducing the reader to. Part of me is waiting for that first agent to reject my manuscript so I feel justified to go in and make those changes that I am want to make, while another part hopes the agent sees the potential and is as eager as I to discuss how we could make my book even better.

For now, however, I will keep on Nano-ing and hope to get a full or partial manuscript request soon!

Batch Querying

I wasn’t kidding in my last post when I said I put my MS away when it was almost ready to go out into the world. A week after that post I sent out my first MS query!

I am batch querying my MS, which means that I am only reaching out to 4-6 Agents at a time. This is a traditional method of querying in the traditional publishing world, though I have heard that since Covid literary agents are receiving more bulk email queries where people are BCC-ing 50 agents at once.

I prefer the batch query method, not only does it mean you are taking the time to select agents that represent books in your genre but it also means if you receive feedback from an agent you can take that advice into consideration and if applicable make changes.

I already from my first batch of querying have learnt so much, below I have listed some of the things I have learnt!

  1. I can’t decide what genre to put my book in! This might sound weird but its true. So far I have categorised my MS as Urban Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Suspense, Fantasy, Romance, Women’s Fiction and Speculitive Fiction. I think now, to give it the broadest categorization I am now calling it Womens Specultive Fiction.
  2. Not all agents want synopsis but will want to know who you read?! In preperation for querying I wrote my synopsis and query letter spending lots of time researching how to write them and then having people critic. However when I went to query agents what they were regularly asking for were: Bio’s, Query Letters, First 10 pages – 3 Chapters of your book, and Book Comps. As such I ended up creating a second query letter for those agents that didn’t want synopsis’s as my original query letter was a taster in preperation for the synopsis.
  3. Book Comps A lot of people provide comparisions for their MS e.g. Its Pride and Preduice meets Tomorrow When the War Began (not my comps) but it is not necessary. However I have already had 3 of the 6 agents I queried in this round have a seperate section requesting book comparisons. I wasn’t prepared for this and wrote a really dumb answer for the first time it was asked (that agent rejected my MS in a day).
  4. Bio’s Again, I hadn’t been expecting to have to provide a second bio to the breif bio I put in the query letter. This threw me through a loop the first one or two queries, espeacially if agents are requesting you submit your MS through Query Tracker. I have since revised my query letter, reducing my bio there to 1 sentance, and drafted a short 4 line bio for those agents providing a brief background of who I am and what inspired me to write my book. If you have writing credentials though, this would be where you would mention those.
  5. Some Agents will get back to you in a day, others advise if you haven’t heard from them in 3 months then its a no. This was a crazy thing to read on agent sites, that they wouldn’t get back to you to say no. Not even a form reject. Aware that agents are getting bulk emailed for MS that aren’t even in their genre’s I can understand that agents are overwhelmed but having to wait 3 months just to know that particular agent is not interested is dissapointing. Espeacially if you can not submit to another agent at their literary agency until that 3 month period is over.

So these are just a couple of the things I have learnt in my first week of querying, I am sure there are much more that will come up. Until then, in the words of Dr. Bonney Henry:

Be Kind, Be Calm, Be Safe.

Picking up my Manuscript after 5-month Hiatus

Three weeks ago I picked up my manuscript (MS) after a 5 month hiatus.

You might be thinking, think MS must be in the early stages, or the first draft for such a long break from my work but its not.

My MS has gone through 6 drafts and had just returned from the editor when I stopped working on it.

Why?!? You ask…

Because summer was on its way and I had just started a new job, and I was sick at reading the same story over and over again.

Over those 5 months I had also stopped participating in my writing community, and it was loss of community I felt that brought me back to my MS. After a Wednesday night zoom meetup of other fantasy writers, one of who also edited my MS, I felt rejuvenated and ready to look at my story again.

When I put my MS away, I was very close to sending it to literary agents for representation. All I had to do is review the edits and suggestions of my editor, write up a synopsis and start reaching out to agents.

5 months later I am happy I never completed those final steps.

My book is great. But with the distance and fresh eyes I am finding small ways throughout my MS to improve my story. There are no big changes planned, but all these small additions will have big impact.

Now, I am more confident that when do I send my MS out to the world (before the end of 2021) it will be loved, respected and enjoyed as much as I dream it will be.