I am working overtime on writing.
I am putting in the time in the chair writing stories and novels and writing letters, now email, to literary agents in the United States of America. I have been sending queries for seven months with varying degrees of interest. What I’ve learned, I’ve learned through experience. Because I feared the notion of reading up on the subject in How-To books and Here’s-What-I-Know blogs I unwittingly set myself up for that most undesirable of piles that follows the slush pile, the rejection pile.
Don’t do that. Read and study the practice of querying. It will save you time and effort. Citizen, I grew up hard-headed. Another word for that is, obstinate. That is not a compliment. After many rejections and no-reply-at-all’s I took a step back and considered my position. It was time to dig in and learn about the art of the query letter.
After seven months, I feel my query letter is now trim and polished to a strong request. (N.B. the query letter is not a mass produced thing. Each agent should receive a letter personalized to their requirements but you can craft the bulk of the thing so that you don’t stumble along and miss getting the point of your novel across.)
I am continuing to send the now largely preferred email queries but there is also a fun little contest on Twitter that is a lot like gambling in my eyes. You play your hand and wait in the tight vibration of anticipation to see if there is an agent out there who sees your 140 character(that’s letters and spaces, not kings and pawns) message in a bottle and decides they’d like to see more of your work.
I participated in Pitch Wars for the first time in 2014 and really got on the ball utilizing Tweetdeck to automate my allotted two tweets per hour. Those two tweets per hour were crafted with the diligence of my work on the novel itself and included the necessary #pitmad and genre hashtags to draw the attention of participating agents and publishers. Although I didn’t win via this process there were mentors who I selected at the beginning of the process who gave me some of the most useful feedback on my query letter and first ten pages of the novel I have ever received. For that, it was worth it to put in the effort to participate.
And, today the people who put on Pitch Wars are running #PitMad which is a shortened version of the Wars. That link goes to the site with the rules for making the best of your “query tweets” during the single day events.
If you have a finished novel and are having a hard time finding professional representation then #PitMad may be a fun way for you to continue the quest. Good Luck and comment back if you do get some bites through the Pitch Madness.