It’s been a few weeks since I’ve updated what I call My Exquerience… meaning my experience in sending out query letters to literary agents. The one I sent for September sent me a rejection only ten minutes after I submitted. Not sure how they concluded the answer was no in ten minutes, but that’s fine. I’ll move on.
Before I update My Exquerience, I would like to address a comment I received on my last post. Thanks for the comment! The person suggested that I self-publish my work. Much like the agent who couldn’t have read my submission in ten minutes, this person clearly did not read my entire post. If they had, they would have read the part when I talk about the fact that I’m currently self-publishing my work.
I’ve created a spreadsheet with agents who I’ve queried and the current status of my submission. In that spreadsheet I’ve also included agents who I want to send queries to in the upcoming months, and into March of 2023. I’m organized, so that’s a good thing. I’m putting my executive assistant skills to work for myself!
Today, as I was perusing the next agents, I noticed there were quite a few who don’t take email submissions. What? That can’t be right. Oh, but it is! They want a printed copy of the requested documents, along with a SASE if you want it returned to you. If not, your work goes into the dreaded slush pile. Hmm…
You know what writers need? Something similar to a dating app that will match us with agents, and we can directly message them through the app and get to know them, and they in turn, can get to know us, fall in love with us as writers and beg to represent us! Yes, I think that’s a fantastic idea! I’m not going to create it, but I think it’s a fantastic idea!
If you’ve made it to this paragraph, and you’re wondering why I don’t self-publish, please see the second paragraph of this post. I do self-publish, and I will continue to self-publish. I want to be traditionally published, and until then, I’ll still keep writing.
Ok, fellow writers, sound off! Are you having your own Exquerience? Are you self-publishing? What do you think about the search for a literary agent? I look forward to your comments! Thanks for stopping by!
Hello and welcome to the latest installment of My Exquerience… for those of you who are new to my blog, I’ve been documenting my journey as I query literary agents in the hopes of becoming traditionally published. I’ve deemed it My Exquerience.
I’ve sent out 9 queries so far this year. One a month. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but they’re a lot of work. Each agency wants something just a bit different from the others, so I really have to pay attention to detail. Now that I’m getting into the rhythm of things, I’m hoping to send two a month next year and double those rejections.
Yes, I said I want to double my rejections. Obviously not because I don’t want to find an agent, but because more rejections are more proof that I’m putting my blood, sweat, & tears into this.
I sent a query yesterday. Exactly 10 minutes later I got a rejection email from them. They asked for a lot of information and the first three chapters. There’s no way they read it in 10 minutes. I wonder what they saw that they said no. It’s a form called Query Manager, then when I log in to look at a status, it’s Query Tracker. I’ve noticed that several agencies use that form, so I wonder if they’re looking at how it’s filled out with spacing, etc. and deciding right then not to even read it because I didn’t follow “the rules” Ugh! It’s a bit maddening, and old school that they’re so rigid. I’ll keep trying but I’m not going to stop self-publishing.
Out of the nine queries I’ve sent, I’ve only gotten three actual rejections. I’m learning that silence is the new no. I’m not getting discouraged, but it makes me wonder how the hell anyone gets traditionally published! What does it take? I know… I’ve heard the stories about authors getting rejected countless times and eventually they got an agent.
Maybe I need to brush up my query letter. Maybe I need to pitch a different novel. I’m certain I’ll learn as I go and one day, you’ll stumble upon this blog and read the post titled, “I Finally Got an Agent!” Until then, stay tuned and thank you for taking this journey with me. I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite inspirations!
Never judge a book by its cover. We all grow up hearing that, meaning that you never know what’s on the inside, so don’t make an assumption based on what you see on the outside. But, while we’re told not to judge a book by its cover, that’s exactly what we do when it comes to book covers!
I write contemporary romance and I’ve studied what other authors in the same genre have for their book covers. One thing I’ve come across a lot… and I mean a lot! Are muscly chests on romance novel covers. I don’t get it. At least not anymore. Sure, back in the day, a smoldering Fabio had me reaching for the next Johanna Lindsey, but regardless of her covers, she told a good story. May she rest in peace.
For my first book cover, I kept it simple. The background is black, and the Heart & Soul logo is centered at the top with the book title, Set It Free, and then my name. Some people liked this; some said it was too simple. For my next book cover, Let It Go, I reached out to an artist and asked her to create the artwork. She happily obliged and I loved the cover. That led to her creating the artwork for 3 books in the series. I happen to love the covers, but I had one writer tell me, “Artwork doesn’t sell books. Chests do.” That comment not only irritated me, but it also baffled me. On principle, I won’t buy a book with a naked dude chest on it because I think it’s cheesy, and they all start to look the same.
For my first standalone novel, The Art of Zen, I used my artist friend again. It’s funny because from the very beginning of writing that novel, I envisioned the New York City skyline on the cover, and she delivered. I remember when I sent it to a few people to get their feedback, it wasn’t positive. One person wanted to see this, and another suggested that, etc. Then, when I published it, I heard it again. “Oh, I wish you would have done this.” It happened again when I published Meant to Be, only after it was already published. One person didn’t like this, one didn’t like that… you get the picture.
So, when it came time to select the image for Where We Belong, I didn’t ask anyone. Why, so they can tell me what they don’t like about it, and I can do what I do best? Second guess myself. I actually did show it to one person and when she told me what she didn’t like about it, I decided, no more! It’s my book and I’m not going to let people sway me with their thoughts. I mean, it’s hard enough to write and revise a book, then there’s so much pressure in the marketing, not to mention the anxiety you get when you know people are reading it. The last thing I need is too much critiquing of my cover work. I love the cover of Where We Belong, and I’m getting close to publishing the second book in that trilogy titled, Coming Home. Guess what? I’m not asking advice from anyone on the image I choose, because I’m going with what I love.
You know what they say about opinions… As always, thanks for stopping by!
We all know Monday gets a bad rap. Even if we don’t work traditional office hours, we find ourselves hating on Monday. The weekend has gone by too quickly, our Sunday was pretty much ruined by how much we thought about what we have to accomplish on Monday. For some people, they try to be positive about the start of the week. New week, new day, new goals, let’s crush this, etc. But many people truly despise Monday, and I get it. I used to be one of those people, too.
I was at a place where I found myself in job after job of not being able to use my skills and working in toxic environments. I couldn’t do it anymore. Every time Monday rolled around, the panic attacks started. On the way to work, I would be nearly paralyzed with anxiety. It was so physically painful, I would cry. Every single Monday. I knew, without a doubt, I had to turn my Monday into something I looked forward to.
I won’t get into my path on becoming a virtual admin in this blog, I’ll save it for another one. But once I started working for myself, I decided to take back my Mondays and make them good days. So, on principle, I don’t work on Mondays anymore. I will write on Mondays, because writing doesn’t feel like work to me. As for my clients, I am available for a quick email or text, but I arrange my schedule, so I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to on Mondays.
By adopting this mindset, it’s really shifted my focus and made me a more productive person. I’m able to focus on my writing and editing, and I’m able to offer my clients the best version of myself by having a clear mind and a positive outlook.
For some people, if they’re able to shorten their week, they prefer taking Fridays off. That way, when they go into work on Monday, they know they only have four days of work ahead of them. I think that’s a great plan, too! But for me, it had to be Monday. I no longer get sad or irritated on Sunday nights. I’m not cranky on Monday mornings. I wake up happy and ready to do the things that I need to do to set myself up for a good week.
What about you? Do you get a case of the Mondays? If so, how do you handle it? I look forward to your comments. Thanks for stopping by!
Ok, I’m going to jump right in here and vent. As an independent author, reviews mean so much. Seriously, every time I release a book, or someone tells me they’ve read one of my books, the first thing out of my mouth is always, “Thank you.” The second thing is, “Will you please leave a review?” Most of the time people say yes, but also most of the time, they don’t do it even if they said yes. I’ve had to get my mind past that and not take offense. At first, I thought if they’ve agreed to it and haven’t left a review, they must hate it. But I’ve come to terms with the fact that some people just don’t leave reviews. They don’t want their name out there, or they’re not comfortable leaving one. I understand that, so I move on… but that doesn’t stop me from asking.
I’ve been told that in order to feel like I’m not alone in this world of writing and self-publishing, that I should connect with other writers. I’ve tried that, and I follow quite a few on social media and they follow me back. But I’ve never felt a full connection with other writers. I’ve been in groups, and I see people connecting and talking about how they love each other’s books, and I’ve always felt like I’m on the outside looking in. What I’m constantly irritated by is the 4-star reviews I see writers giving other writers. I have seen more than one person lately talking on social media about being banned from Amazon or being reported on Amazon for leaving bad reviews. If you’re a beta reader and you’re giving poor reviews, you deserve to be blocked and reported. Seriously, WTF? Especially if you’re a fellow author. What’s the point when you yourself are striving for 5-star reviews, yet you’re so stingy with them and even go so far as to boast about the fact that you only leave 4-star reviews on principle? What’s your principle? Do you hold some special status in the literary world that we don’t know about? Do you feel better about yourself for withholding that one star? For the love of God! If you’re another author, you know the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into writing, editing, then self-publishing a book. Not to mention marketing! For those efforts alone, you should be giving 5 stars. Even today, I saw a review that an author left for another author. She posted it on Instagram. Of course, she only gave it 4 stars, then she went on to insult the plot, and even added, “insert eyeroll here” in her review. And the author she reviewed actually thanked her for that?!?!
This is why I don’t want to connect with other authors. For some of you, that 5th star may not be a big deal. For me, if I know you’re also a writer and you’ve held back that final star, I think you’re a jerk. A big, fat, hairy jerk! One of my recent books got a 4-star review… not only from another writer, but from one who had read all of the other books in the series and given me 5 stars. She not only withheld that star, but she insulted my writing. Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned that because now I’m fired up about that. How rude! My first instinct was to turn around and do the same thing to her, but I have more class than that.
I can think of at least 5 people I’m connected with who wear their “4 stars only” rule as a badge of pride. Not that they give a crap, but I don’t think that makes them seem intelligent or hold them in higher regard because if they happen to give me that 5th star, I’ll bow to them. Pfftt, hell no. I just roll my eyes and vow to never buy/read/review any of their books. Sidenote… I know of someone who bought The Art Of Zen and she’s a 4-star stickler. I’m thankful she bought my book, but I don’t want her to review it. Especially since I bought her book and gave her a 5-star review before I ever knew this about her.
I know some who read this are probably thinking, “Geez, lady. Get over it and move on, it’s only a review.” That’s true. But this is my blog so I can vent about whatever I want. 4 stars is a good review, but if you’re willing to give it 4, there’s no reason not to give it 5. Oh, and another thing! My very first 4-star review on my debut novel was from someone who is not a writer, but a childhood friend. They have a strange screen name, so I didn’t know who it was. But I dug and I figured it out. I was shocked, and hurt… and 4 years later, I’m still irritated by it. I guess what I’m trying to say is, fellow authors and people who have known you since you were 8 years old, shouldn’t be jerks when leaving a review.
Just my point of view… If we’re all in this together, we should lift each other up and give praise, especially if we want it in return. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk!
I’ve sent out two queries so far this year. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but let me tell you, there is a lot of work that goes into each one. I’ve said this before… it can be very daunting submitting to an agent for a few reasons. First and foremost, sharing my work with anyone is daunting. Even now, four years into the self-publishing game, I still get a little sick to my stomach when my editor reads my work, and more so when I publish. To submit my work to an agent, a total stranger who I’m asking to take me on, is beyond nerve wracking!
It’s also daunting because each agency is different when it comes to their submission guidelines. I know I’ve touched on this before… it’s not like a huge job website where you upload a resume and start quick applying to every listing in the hopes to get an interview. Each one is specific in what they want. Some have a form that you fill out, some want an email with the first 25 or 50 pages attached as a document. And some want you to include everything in the body of the email. They make it very clear that if you miss one step of their guidelines, they won’t look at you. I get it, they want to make sure people are paying attention and researching the agents, but damn! I’ve had executive assistant jobs that required less attention to detail! I’m a writer, the details are in my stories!
As I was researching the agent I will submit to for the month of May, and of course, getting into my head about how superior these people are to me and that I’ll never be smart enough for them… I told myself to shut up. The agent photos are one extreme to the other. They either look like scholars who are going to look down on me, or they look young enough to be my child, and I’m intimidated by both! I had to remind myself that they’re people, too.
They put their pants on one leg at a time, they breathe the same air that I do. They do all the same things that anyone does, because they’re people! What a revelation! They get colds, they get hungry, they smile when something makes them happy, and cry when something makes them sad. They have ups and downs like we all do. They get breakouts, they have insecurities, they use the bathroom! Insert gasp here! How many times when we were growing up, did we think that teachers never went to the bathroom, and when we found out that they did in fact, use the bathroom just like us, we were floored? Agents, much like teachers, also use the bathroom! For the love of God, people, they poop!
What a silly thing to realize, right? Maybe, but it helped, and I know it will continue to help me through My Exquerience, to remember, that agents are people, too. Now I just have to get one to sign me on, find a huge publisher that has been wondering where I’ve been, and have my stories made into a movie or a series on Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney Plus… well, you get the idea. Until then, I will keep submitting and of course, keep sharing my journey with you!
Any reader can attest to this… to say that they love to lose themself in the story of a good book… and to fall in love with the characters. It happens. A lot!
I’ve been an avid reader my entire life. For me, it was because of my love of acting. Taking on a role, and becoming that character was the best part about acting. It provided that escape from life, that escape from homework, friend drama, family drama… any drama! It created its own drama and I thrived on that. I still do. I’ve seen a ton of memes floating around on social media about readers falling in love with characters. But what about the writer? Has anyone ever wondered, while they’re reading a book, did the writer feel what I’m feeling?
One of my favorite quotes on writing is by Robert Frost. “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” I love this so much because it’s so true. As a writer I feel all of the emotions that my characters feel. I cry when they cry. I’m angry when they’re angry. I’m surprised when a twist in one of my stories happens, because if the reader is surprised, you can bet that I shook my head in confusion and said, “Didn’t see that coming!” And of course, when my characters fall in love, you can also be assured that I am head over heels in love with them, too.
It’s kind of funny to experience those feelings, but I look at it as a positive side effect. Those chills and flutters are exciting in the beginning of any relationship, so it’s fun to embrace them as a writer. Right now, I’m currently working on the third book in a trilogy. I just released the first book titled, Where We Belong. Just like I did in Where We Belong, and in the follow-up book that’s yet to be released, Coming Home, I’m falling in love with my current character in The Courage To Return. I love the visual of him (more on that in a future blog post), I love his quiet nature, I love how he loves.
I fall in love with the female characters, too. I even have a different kind of love for my evil characters. They create conflict and of course we want to see the protagonist overcome any adversity, but those villains are there for a reason, and I kind of love them. I think more than loving them, I just enjoy the hell out of writing them!
What about you? Do you fall in love with your characters when you read or write? Drop a comment and let me know! Thanks for stopping by!
“He who gets the most rejections wins!” “You have to go for No!” Those are two beloved quotes to cheer me on, from two of my favorite people.
It’s been one week since I submitted my first query of 2022. So far, no word. After I submitted, I received an email that included a link where I could go and check the status of my submission. As of yesterday, it’s still in review. I have no idea if that means they’re reading it, or they haven’t gotten to it yet. Either way, there’s really no news to report.
I have a spreadsheet with agencies, contact information, and the agent who I’ve researched that might be a good fit for me. As I was going through that this morning to see who the next lucky agent will be, I noticed that some of the agents I thought would be a good fit, probably aren’t. This is why extensive research is needed. For some reason, I had a few agents on there that, after really looking at their profile, I realized they aren’t for me, and I’m not for them. They want science fiction mixed with romance. I skimmed their profile and saw romance. After carefully reading it again this morning, I realized there’s nothing sci-fi about my books… except for maybe that most of the male characters I write would never exist in this world, they’re too perfect. Hmm… did I just find a loophole??
As most writers do, I tend to get in my head when it comes to my work. I know putting myself out there is the way to make things happen. I know that “No” is part of this process. The image below came up in my Facebook memories today. It’s very encouraging, and I find it interesting that I should see it on a Wednesday… the day of the week when I work on queries.
When my father read my first book, Set It Free, and I was finally able to look him in the eye again… I mean seriously, what part of “Don’t read the sex scenes” didn’t he understand?? Anyway, he was very complimentary, and he said that my writing put him in mind of Janet Evanovich. So, I love this post of hers for the encouragement, and I love it because my dad thinks I write like her. Aww, thanks, Dad!
Up next is a new agent to query. Looking at their submission guidelines, they want the first 50 pages of my book. The last place only wanted the first 25 pages. I wish it was more uniform across the board with every agent, but it’s not. This is why homework is needed.
Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read about My Exquerience. Stay tuned for more!
Welcome to my Exquerience! I finally sent my first query letter of the year. Let me start by saying, yikes! As soon as I hit “submit” I told my daughter I needed a Pepto Bismal martini! (Side note… it’s actually a thing. I just looked it up. Eww! Here’s the Google search.) But really, my stomach was in knots, my hands were trembling, my knees were shaking… but I did it!
The thing is, I’m fully expecting a rejection, so I don’t know why I’m so nervous. Scratch that, yes, I do know why I’m so nervous. Because this means everything to me! Writing has become like breathing to me. I feel suffocated when I’m not doing it. My goal is to get representation and be published traditionally, so putting myself out there to find an agent is daunting. Plus, I think anyone who puts themself out there and is trying to reach a goal, no matter what that goal is, understands the anxiety it creates.
It took me a while to get it all together. A new bio, a brief synopsis, the query letter, and the number of pages required for the submission. I’m hoping now that I’ve compiled what’s needed for most queries, and saved the document, that future queries will be a smoother process with minor tweaks for what the agent requests. My goal is to submit one letter a month, hopefully more as I get more comfortable and of course, stop procrastinating!
As my dear friend tells me, the one with the most rejections wins! I love that because it means I’m trying. I’m putting myself out there and that’s a huge, huge step! Honestly, with how reclusive and shy I’ve become, I wonder how I ever stood on a stage and belted out a tune. I guess there’s just something magical about standing on a stage that brings that out in me, but I’m more comfortable telling the tale than acting it out.
I’ll keep submitting, and until I get an agent, I’ll keep writing and self-publishing. Speaking of which… my new book is now available!
Where We Belong is available in both print and digital form. I hope you check it out, and I hope you leave a positive review.
As always, thanks for reading and stay tuned for my next exquerience!
Welcome to the third blog post that chronicles my query experience… or as I like to call it, My Exquerience! Last time I posted, I wrote about how I was feeling twitchy just thinking about the possibility of sending a query letter. It takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there no matter what you’re doing! I take those nerves as a good sign. Back in the day… yes, I just said back in the day… when I was doing theater, I was always a bundle of nerves before I got on stage. I would pace, my hands would tremble, and I’d feel sick to my stomach. I’m surprised I never actually got sick before I performed, because that’s how badly the nerves would get me. But every time I stepped on that stage, all those nerves melted away and turned into energy for a good performance. Over time, I took those nerves to be a good thing. The rare times I felt chill before I went on stage, it wasn’t a stellar performance. So, I’m embracing my twitchiness.
Ok, I know I just recapped my last post, so I’ll move on. The book I was going to query was The Art of Zen. My first standalone novel. Well, I started looking at the query form, and it requests word count. In my research, all agents request word count. I got twitchy again. Zen is a long novel. Really long. Research says that a debut novel should only be 80,000 to 100,000 words. Well, even though Zen is not my debut novel, it would probably be considered a debut because I’ve never been traditionally published.
I pondered the situation and reached out to a few friends. Should I fudge the wordcount in the hopes that an agent will request the entire manuscript and fall in love with it? Outright lie? Or should I tell them the honest truth and hope they give me a chance? I knew what the right thing was, and that’s what I was told. Tell the truth. There’s no sense in lying when you’re trying to build a potential relationship with someone. I get it… and I felt guilty for even thinking of lying. So, if you happen to be reading this and you’re a literary agent, I apologize. I’m only human.
The dilemma is that Zen is over 200,000 words. Yup, you read that right. I write big books, and I cannot lie! (You rapped that, didn’t you?) After a long discussion with my editor, here’s what I came up with. I’m going to reread The Art of Zen and turn it into two books. Yay! More time with Tia and Spencer. I’m also going to re-edit my baby, Set It Free, and put that on my “To Query” list. In the meantime, I’m going to query Where We Belong, since it’s about half the size of Zen. It’s also releasing on March 23rd, so make sure to check it out!
Yesterday, I was supposed to work on my query for Where We Belong, but I hit a snag uploading the cover. I finally got it uploaded last night and it should be good to go. Now I can focus on shouting it out, and on reworking my query letter.
It’s a lot of work, and a total labor of love. But guess what? I love it! I’m in the midst of writing the third book in the Where We Belong trilogy. I just love this group of characters and I can’t wait to share them with all of you!
Thanks for reading, and for joining me on My Exquerience!