Want to see the query that landed me a contract with Turquoise Morning Press? I’m sharing it today over at Aussie Owned.
Recently I asked you, our readers, what you wanted to see. The answer I received was about querying successfully, how to do it, and examples of successful queries. So today, I have the ladies here, at AOaR telling their stories.
First off, I should warn you that the query letter contains a minor spoiler for the book. (There was also a bigger one in there, but I’ve deleted it from the example; I don’t think it’s strictly necessary to illustrate the point.)
There are a few reasons why I think this query was successful. I followed a basic when/then structure in the pitch (the first two paragraphs). When Isla’s life starts to spin off the rails, then she must discover the truth about who she is and what she can do. It also outlines the stakes: Isla’s father is in danger and needs rescuing. (He’s such
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Pitcharama – IT’S BACK!
Here at Aussie Owned and Read, we love giving people opportunities to help them on their publication journey. After all, anything that gets books out to the public sooner rather than later has to be a good thing, right?
That’s why we’re pleased to announce PITCHARAMA, the return of our 2013 contest that helped match up a select few top Young and New Adult writers with some amazing boutique publishers, resulting in some fantastic publication stories.
More details will follow, but here’s what you need to know so far if you wish to enter:
1. You must have a completed, pitch-ready manuscript.
2. You must sign up to our list (coming soon)
3. You must post your 250 word pitch on your blog on June 16, 2014.
From there, the…
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Just a quick note to let you know of two other places you can find me, or at least my various thought bubbles.
Today over at Aussie Owned and Read, I’m looking at bookends. You know, the things you use to stop your books from falling over if you don’t already have so many that there’s nowhere for them to go? Those.
Also, in the past few days I was a Pitch Slam finalist. I got some awesome feedback on my pitch and first 250 words during the “audition” rounds and was then chosen to be part of Team Stray Tats. I have a stray tat (or a tat of a cat that may be stray — haha, I rhymed), so that seemed appropriate. You can see my pitch here.
I got one request too. *plays air guitar* Thanks to Lucas for having enough faith in me to put me on the team. 🙂
If you guys like stats, or just like to get a closer look at agent request trends and that sort of thing, check out this very informative post by Nik over at NestPitch on how the numbers shook out during that pitching contest.
As we round up to the end of the month, it’s time to share some stats with you all. (everyone loves stats as much as me right?It’s OK, I’ve done all the work for you.
**Note:I will be sending out Scorecards to the 10-reserves & posting the results of those scorecards in two days. I decided to split the scorecards and stats when I realised how much space the stats would need.
So down to the Fun Facts & Figures.
We had around 220 submissions, of which almost 200 were accepted. (Several did not meet the guidelines, remember people Submission 101- follow the guidelines). The final submissions were made up of:
Of those submitted the following % were selected by the…
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Yesterday I entered Lucid Dreaming in Pitch Slam. The theme is one of those musical talent shows, like Australian/American/Armenian Idol. You audition (send your pitch) and if Simon Cowell doesn’t hate you, you move on to the next round. The agents, if they make requests, do so as record executives.
I know, right? How cute is that? 🙂
Anyway, as well as providing details like genre and word count, I had to name a song that sums up my manuscript.
For Lucid Dreaming, that was easy. (For Isla, I’d have a lot more trouble.) It’s Enter Sandman by Metallica. But it has to be an orchestral version, because violins. VIOLINS!
Ahem. What song would you choose for your manuscript/s or WIP/s?
NestPitch’s agent round is now on!
The Slush Bilbies (including yours truly) have sorted through the entries to help the Nest Bloggers whittle down the entries. The top seventy-two entries have made it through and are waiting for agents to hop on by to make requests.
Now that the finalists have been revealed, I thought it’d be fun to flag which of them I consider to be part of Team Cass — the ones I put forward to the Nest Bloggers. They are in order by age bracket.
1. Who Do You Love the Most? (Picture book)
2. The Discarded (YA sci-fi)
3. The Theory of Everything (YA fantasy/steampunk)
4. Coveted (YA urban fantasy)
5. Reverse Cascade (YA contemporary)
6. Helica (NA sci-fi)
7. Captain (Adult historical)
8. Hair of the Dog (Adult urban fantasy)
9. Why Knot? (Adult women’s fiction)
10. Circle of Fur (Adult women’s fiction)
Excitingly, I see a few requests in there already too!
If you know anything about me, you’ll know I don’t read women’s fiction and rarely read historical or contempoary. But I know good writing when I see it. 😉
Please remember that until the agents have finished making their selections, comments are for agents only. If you want to cheer on your favourite prior to then, you can do it in the comments of the main post on each Nest Blogger’s blog, not the individual entry posts. Or, you know, here.
Good luck to everyone who has made it this far. May your nest be filled with lots of chocolatey requests.
I was recently a slush reader for the NestPitch contest. My part is done now, although the contest is ongoing, with the nest bloggers choosing their final picks from the slushies’ shortlist for final agent consideration.
Because the contest isn’t done, I’m going to keep this slush feedback general. But hopefully it will give people an idea of the things I noticed as a common theme in the slush, and the main reasons I said no. Reading slush for a contest like this or Pitcharama really gives you a unique insight into what it must be like to be an agent or editor.
Length: too long, too short, just right
Hearing your manuscript is far too long or too short is hard, and—unlike with the next two pieces of advice—there is no easy fix if you want to be traditionally published.
This post is a great guide to length, and is the one I referred to when I had doubts about the average length of a genre. For example, of all the genres being pitched, I don’t currently read middle grade (although I no doubt will as my son gets older—we’re still reading picture books and chapter books). So I looked it up.
If your book falls outside the “safe” range for your genre, you’re much more likely to get passed over by an agent. Publishers aren’t interested in 200k-word epics or skinny novellas by debut novelists, so neither are agents – because as well as loving your book, they need to believe they can sell it before they’ll make you an offer.
One book in my slush pile was all wrong for its genre. It was a picture book that was thousands (many thousands) of words over the recommended length. It was long enough I was left wondering whether the writer had meant to classify it as middle grade and had somehow mistyped.
I read all of every submission in my slush pile (something not all agents will do), but books that were well outside the range already had a strike against them before I started. Some got the tick despite their length. Most didn’t.
Age bracket: square peg in a round hole
I tweeted a few days ago about how it’s particularly vital that kidlit writers (anyone writing anything from picture books to NA) make it clear in their pitch or opening paragraphs how old the protagonist is.
This was prompted by me reading a pitch for a book whose length was on the low end of middle grade but that featured a protagonist who appeared, based on their actions, to be at least seventeen. My take-home impression was that it was a YA novella that the author had optimistically called middle grade based on its length.
Maybe I was wrong. Maybe the character was really twelve and was doing things no twelve year old should be, as part of the story. But that wasn’t clear.
Proofreading and spell check are your friends
Some books had writing that needed a lot of love, and I passed on them because taking a non-query-ready manuscript to an agent does none of us any favours: the author, the agent or the NestPitch team.
But some were beautifully written…except for a single typo or incorrect word.
There were two in particular that caused me heartache, because I loved them but the first 300 words had these types of errors. One of the two had a misspelled word that a spellcheck would have picked up; the other had one word in place of another—something spellcheck wouldn’t detect but a proofread would.
I ended up giving both manuscripts the tick but whether the bloggers will choose them at the next round I’m not sure. If they love one of these pitches and another without errors, and they only have one space left on their list, they’re going to choose the one without errors.
Pitching or querying a manuscript takes an enormous act of courage. That document that you’ve slaved over for months or years, that you’ve only shown to those you know and trust, is out there, before the eyes of strangers. I admire and respect everyone that entered NestPitch, regardless of my final decision regarding each manuscript on my pile. I hope that my guidance above help anyone that ultimately gets told “no” see whether there are problems with their manuscript.
And I’ll be cheering for the thirteen members of Team Cass (even if they don’t know they are on Team Cass) at the blogger and agent rounds. Good luck, folks! 🙂