It’s the ninth day of March Book Madness, and it’s been awesome! (If you’ve missed any posts, the schedule and explanation are below.)
Today Chantele Sedgwick is here. Chantele and I share publishers. Before I signed with Crescent Moon Press, I’d read Chantele’s book, Not Your Average Fairy Tale, and loved it. It’s a fun book with not-your-average YA characters. When I got the offer to publish with CMP, I contacted Chantele. She’s been so kind and helpful answering my questions.
I’m thrilled she’s here today talking about querying.
Hello everyone! I’m here today to talk about querying. Cue wailing, crying, and gnashing of teeth! :) Because for real. It sucks.
I like to compare querying to a job interview. Because basically, that’s what it is. You’re trying to sell yourself, (figuratively speaking) to an agent or editor and you want to make the best impression possible.
Here are a few tips if you’re getting ready to jump into the fray!
Not every employer is looking for the same employee. For example, a doctor isn’t looking for a school teacher to help him draw blood from his patient. He wants someone with a medical background. Preferably, a nurse. :)
Agents are looking for specific things as well. Some agents represent one genre, but don’t represent another. Always research your prospective agents. Do your homework. Make sure they represent what you write before you query them, so you don’t waste your time and theirs.
I promise your life will be a whole lot easier.
You wouldn’t go to a job interview covered in yesterday’s burrito, right? You want your query to look sharp. One page and one page only, in a font you can actually read, and plain black ink.
An employer doesn’t want to hear your whole life story during an interview, and honestly, neither does your perspective agent. All you need to have in your query are the basics.
Address the query to said agent and personalize it. Whether you like their humor on twitter or enjoy reading books they represent, butter them up a little.
Next, pitch your book. Give us:
- The character
- Her/his motivation
- The problem they need to overcome and the reason they need to overcome it
- Don’t try to explain every single character/scene/setting/plot point
- Keep it simple, but keep it interesting
- Always include word count and genre
As for your Bio, less is more. If you don’t have a lot or any publishing credits, it’s okay. Just don’t tell them every reason you wrote the book or explain how much the neighbors down the street loved it. Your book will do the talking when they read it. :)
Every employer has rules. Like, don’t wear sweats to work if it’s a nice corporate job. You know. Stuff like that. When you’re querying, every single agent has their own submission requirements.
Read them and follow them.
You’ll make the agent happy by following their directions and they’ll pay a little more attention to your letter and sample pages.
Just like a job interview, you usually have to wait a bit to hear back. It’s the same with querying. Sometimes it takes a few days, sometimes a few weeks. Be patient and work on something else to take your mind off it instead of checking your e-mail a billion times. (I say that, but usually you still check your e-mail a billion times anyway…) Don’t drive yourself crazy though. Even after you land an agent, you’ll still spend a lot of your time waiting. :)
Querying is one of the hardest, most emotional steps in the traditional publishing process, but it’s also the most rewarding.
I’ve queried five different books, have had hundreds of rejections, but I kept going, even when opening a reply from an agent was almost too much for me. But I stuck with it and I’m so happy I did.
If you want this, you can do it. You won’t give up, and if you love writing as much as I do, you’ll keep going. Keep believing in your dreams and one of these days, when the time is right, they’ll come true.
Chantele Sedgwick grew up playing the harp and singing with her sisters. Little did anyone know, she always had stories in her head, and was surprised when someone told her it wasn’t normal. After she had her second baby in 2007, she finally realized she should take her daydreams seriously and write them down.
The discovery of first love, first kisses, and the many emotions teens go through, pushed Chantele to find her niche in writing young adult fiction. Some of her stories share a few of her own experiences, but most of them are just fantasies she wished happened to her as a teen. She’s a sucker for a great love story and always enjoys a happy ending. When she’s not writing, Chantele can be found spending time with her husband and four silly kids, reading the newest YA novel, or driving her sisters crazy with random story ideas.
Chantele is represented by the fabulous Nicole Resciniti of The Seymour Agency. Her YA contemporary book, Love, Lucas, will be released from Sky Pony Press in 2015.
Connect with Chantele:
Thank you so much, Chantele. I queried agents for a few months with Citizens of Logan Pond. Long enough to know it was as fun as a root canal. I’ve actually lucked so far because I signed directly with Deseret Book and Crescent Moon Press, so I haven’t needed an agent. Yet.
I know the querying day is coming with another manuscript I have in the works, so I really appreciate your tips and advice, Chantele. Many of my writer friends are either querying now or getting ready to. I’m sure they’ll find this post extremely useful, too.
Thanks again, Chantele. Best of luck with all your exciting book stuff!
Now it’s your turn.
What tips or advice do you have about querying, either what to do or what not to do? Any funny querying stories? Comment here.
Check back next Tuesday for our next guest: Charissa Stastny.
If you’re new to March Book Madness, it has nothing to do with basketball (sorry) and everything to do with books. March is National Reading Month, so March Book Madness gives me an excuse to discuss everything about writing, editing, and reading books with some amazing authors.
If you’ve missed any posts, here they are:
2014 MARCH BOOK MADNESS:
- Our Connection to Book Covers and the Characters Within, by Danyelle Ferguson
- Four Essential Elements of Good Writing, by Gerald N. Lund
- Welcome to Niche-land! by JoLynne Lyon
- Developing Plot and Characters Together, by Tricia Pease
- ”Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson,” by Sarah Belliston
- Using Repetition To Improve Your Book by A.L. Sowards
- Getting the Most Out of Your Critique Group, by Charity Bradford
- The Moral of the Tale, by Christopher Rosche
- Querying: The Method to the Madness, by Chantele Sedgwick
- Creating Context Clues, by Charissa Stastny
- 6 Places to Find Novel Ideas, by Janice Hardy
- Avoiding Didacticism in Our Writing, by Braden Bell
2013 MARCH BOOK MADNESS:
- Weeding Your Words, by Charissa Stastny
- Know Your Audience–Even the Subtle One, by Cindy Piper
- Beating a Dead Horse, by Julie L Casey
- Why Everyone Should Be a Writer, by Sharon Belknap
- Reading in the Digital Age, by JoLynne Lyon
- The Art of Accepting Criticism, by Mary Bateman-Mercado
- Pinterested in Books, by Sarah Belliston
- The Power of Storytelling, by Christopher Rosche
- Never Pity the Adverb, by Anthony Mercado
- Creating Flawed but Likeable Characters, by A.L. Sowards
- Priorities and Choices for Writers, by Braden Bell
- Premise vs Plot – Which Do You Have? by Janice Hardy
2012 MARCH BOOK MADNESS:
- Tips on Querying, by Lynn Wiese Sneyd
- Plotting vs. Plodding, by Tobi Summers
- 10 Marketing Tips, by JoLynne Lyon
- 8 Editing Tips, by Cassie Mae
- Editing, by Jessica Khoury
- Reading for Writers, by Tricia Pease
- For the Love of Reading, by Sharon Belknap