Tips for Querying A Literary Agent

Hello, my Beautiful People. It’s been a long time since I’ve written. I’m going to change some things and keep some things the same.

Before I slide into today’s topic, I have to write a few reflective things, because I haven’t talked to you all in so very long.

Fall is finally sweeping in with it all its rich glory. This time of year just makes me so reflective, and I feel this deep inner peace and joy as I view the brilliant blue skies, cool mornings, and an abundance of plushy sweaters and boots. Some might feel like fall is an end, as leaves shrivel into reds and yellows and the world grows a little quieter. It is, in a way. But it’s such a beginning, reminding us that so much, so much is ahead.

I have to include one of the most exciting things happening to me this semester: I get to wear a wig (with a peacock included) in the fall opera.

SO MUCH YES.

And guess what else, Lovelies? I’m working on the final book of my trilogy. It’s a thrilling place to be. Terrifying, but thrilling.

Since I know there are so many aspiring authors out there in the internet world, I thought I would share a few tips from things I am learning on my own writing journey. These tips pertain specifically to querying agents via email.

~ Be professional ~ I’m sure this could go without saying. However, I have read so many blog posts, articles, and tweets by agents who talk about the unprofessionalism they find in many of the emails they receive. When I queried an agent recently, I looked up information about her on her professional Twitter account, LinkedIn, and even read some articles that she had written. Those are perfectly acceptable things to do, especially if this person is someone I could potentially work with. However, it would be inappropriate for me, in my query email, to regurgitate any likes or dislikes of the agent that  I may have learned. Know how to write a query email. I looked up sample query emails online before I even attempted writing mine. Make sure that you triple check your email for grammatical errors. If you want agents to give your book a serious glance at least, then your email should be, in a  way, a reflection of your work and you as a person. Don’t let a poorly constructed email turn agents away from a fantastic story.

~ Be patient ~ THIS IS SO HARD. My patience level is quite low at times. Most agencies usually state on their website (or perhaps through an email) when they will most likely get back to you. A typical timeline is several months. Pestering agents with a flood of emails is not the way to be taken seriously. Here is an excellent article about this topic…  http://heydeadguy.typepad.com/heydeadguy/2015/10/guest-post-when-and-whether-to-nudge-an-agent-by-danielle-burby.html

~ Be proactive ~ Never wait around and expect to meet the perfect agent at a party or something. Research. Once you know the genre of your work, research agents who are looking for stories in that particular genre. Don’t simply query the first agent you come across. Try to find out more about the agency the agent works with and who that he or she is as a person. Make a list of possible agents. Figure out pros and cons. You have to do the work. But it will be worth it. Keep pursuing. Don’t give up.

Anything worth having in life is worth a pursuit, is worth the difficulties, is WORTH IT. Stay strong, Darlings. Keep writing. Keep writing. Keep LIVING.

A blog post in which I remember

I am a dreamer, Beautiful People.

That is what I declared myself to be on my very first blog post.

I want to encourage you today to be a dreamer too.

An ACTIVE dreamer.

Because active dreamers grasp those dreams, hold onto ideas that might seem fleeting, might seem unattainable, and make them, make them something real.

I find myself brokenhearted by those who always say they are going to do this or that. Then years slip by, and the same words are there, those same, empty words. “I WILL DO THIS. I WANT TO DO THAT.”

Many times, those people have never moved past the dream stage.

It takes so much bravery to step into what I want to call the grey world. This  grey world is a place that’s completely unknown, that promises nothing, but…

But there.

There is where your fulfilled dreams lie. They may look different then you imagined them, envisioned them, hoped for them to be.

But they are there. Completed.

REAL.

The idea of believing that your dreams will come true isn’t enough. It never will be. You have to take steps to find that dream, and then never stop pursuing it until it is accomplished. What if it takes your whole life to accomplish, you make ask? Then what an awesome story you’ll have to tell. What a deeply beautiful, fully lived life you’ll have had. You don’t need a million dreams accomplished. Sometimes, that lingering one is enough. More than enough.

We’re all dreamers. The more I live, the more I believe dreaming is something intricately woven into a human being’s existence.

When I was choosing an illustration for this blog post, I finally decided on the one above because it screams vibrancy and beauty. People often say that is what dreams are made of.

And it’s true.

It is also what life is made of.

Remember that, Darlings.

The grey world awaits you. Don’t be afraid.

 

 

A blog post in which I return

Okay, so I may have not written a blog post in months. Oops…

Opera, a trip to Europe, schoolish things, and life in general got in the way.

Enough with excuses.

Besides working and attending weddings and learning music and beach trips and lake trips and enjoying the warmth and loveliness of summer, here’s what readerly/writerly things this summer includes for me:

~ Reading some new books. I recently finished a YA novel entitled Dreamland by Sarah Desson. It’s a quick read, and a surprisingly honest look (without being too graphic) about a girl stuck in a terrible, abusive relationship. I am about to start several other novels: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, The queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, and We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. They’ve all been included on best YA lists, and I am super excited to read them. Let me know in the comment section if you want some book reviews!

~ I’m not working on any short stories or poems currently, but I am working on my fantasy trilogy. I’ve been forcing myself to just write a little each day. Manageable goals.

I feel like summer often promises to hold adventures and opportunities, and yet also gives us those tiny moments in which we can simply breathe and write and remember how crazy-beautiful life is. Here’s to summer. Let’s make it a fully-lived one, Beautiful People, in the deepest, most meaningful ways.

A blog post in which I inspire

Actually, let me re-phrase that, Beautiful People. I’m going to try and inspire.

Attempt.

No…never mind. I’m not. I’m just going to post some lovely pictures from Pinterest and pretend that I’m being creative and artsy.

Sometimes I think that our minds are crazy. Loud. 

They are.

But quiet rests there too.

And even in those small moments, the ones some might call insignificant, we realize there’s something more. We know there is.

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We’re always looking for beauty. We never stop.

Not really. Not ever. 

Our hearts yearn for it. 

YeArN. On and on. And on.

But what if it’s there, right there. near. close.

butterflies

Looking beyond. That’s what we’re best at. Always forward. Clinging behind. But now. now.

It’s slipping, past.

Away.

art

We cry. Often. We laugh. Often. We do everything, often.

Except. ExCePt. except.

Do we live.

Live.

Li-

never let me go

 

A blog post in which I state some writer “no’s”

Well, Beautiful People, today is another “writer” post day. As writers, we can often find ourselves doing things that we know we shouldn’t do in our stories…like the following…

~ Cutting scenes ~ In some of my works, there have been scenes that I have created that I absolutely LOVED, but they did nothing to aid the story in any way. I was emotionally attached to said scenes and didn’t want to let them go. But sometimes you have to. Keep them for your own self, but realize that sometimes good scenes – even great ones – don’t always have a place in your story.

~ Motivation that goes no where ~ Posting inspirational quotes about writing and dreams and goals and all that is wonderful (and – CONFESSION – I do it.) But at some point, that doesn’t mean anything. You need to be doing, not simply inspiring yourself. There’s a time for encouragement and then there’s a time to let that encouragement spur you onwards and upwards.

~ Being too heavily influenced by other authors ~ I’ve learned not to work on important scenes, or much writing at all really, when I’m in the middle of book I really love…especially if I really admire the writing style. You don’t want to let yourself accidentally/unconsciously be too influenced by another writer, so much so that you find yourself copying ideas rather than being inspired by them.

~ Forgetting the purpose of it all ~ Don’t ever become so wrapped up in the tiny plot details of your story that you forget why you’re writing it in the first place. I’m so easily discouraged, so easily led astray from the stories I have created and love dearly. Don’t forget. Don’t ever let yourself forget.

A blog post in which I beg

I want to ask my Beautiful People something. Something very important. No… more like beg you. Because there are so many life things that really matter. And I want to remind you of that, encourage you in that.

Don’t settle.

I know when people talk about “settling,” they are often referring to relationships. And so, yes, you need to hold high standards for the person you’re dating and also for yourself. But I genuinely believe people are willing to settle in numerous areas of life, not merely relationships. Why? Because it’s the easy choice. The safe choice. The “I-think-it’s-the-only-choice”. Oh my Beautiful People. It’s not. I promise you. I know this world can be a terrifying place at times. But don’t miss the beauty amidst the shadows. It’s there. I know it is. I KNOW it is.

What do you want to do with your one life? Be? Are you striving to meet those goals? Do you simply wish to be a better person or are you actually taking steps to be a better person? Are you full of words alone, or also actions? If you feel like you are wasting your life, accomplishing nothing, are nothing, why do you feel that way? Why. Why?

I understand those feelings. I have days where I may sink into those questions and feel like God is far away and I am alone.

Guess what those thoughts are called? Lies.

I don’t have all the answers, and I never will. By God’s incredible grace, I am on this strange and wondrous journey we call life and trying to understand more about it and my own self. When I’m asking you not to settle in your life, it’s not a pride thing. It’s not a “I’m-so-good-and-great-and-so-much-is-beneath-me” thing. It’s a “I-want-to-strive-to-be-the-best-that-I-can-be-and-do-in-all-areas-of-my-life” thing.

Why wouldn’t you want that? Why shouldn’t you strive for that?

That’s what it should always have been, what it should always come back to, what it should always be in the days to come.

Oh, Darlings, I love you. ❤ Please don’t be afraid. Please, stop being afraid and never just travel through life. LIVE life.

Live, live, live.

A blog post in which I applaud stories

Today I want to applaud. Stories, that is. Stories that made an impact on me growing up or later on in my life. Stories that have etched their words on my heart in some way and refused to leave. Stories that have “never let me go”.

(Sorry…I had to insert that cheesiness). COULDN’T RESIST.

There are so many fantastic books I could mention, Beautiful People. But I promise to only list a few. 🙂

~ Anne of Green Gables ~ To me, though the story is so lovely in many ways, I felt that it was about the beauty of a girl’s vast imagination and witty intelligence. In Anne, I always saw a little bit of myself. Actually, a lot of myself. And I wanted to be just like her.

anne-of-green-gables

~The Witch of Blackbird Pond ~ This may seem like a random choice, but I absolutely loved this book growing up. The story is compelling, and the characters are really interesting. It was one I enjoyed re-reading many times, and it drew me into the world that it presented. A wonderful piece of historical fiction.

WitchBlackbird6

~ Ella Enchanted ~ This book is so clever and witty and just reinforced my love for fantasy literature all the more. I love that it features a strong and independent heroine. Also, I really like that Ella and Prince Char are friends before falling in love, rather than a love-at-first-sight situation.

Ella-Enchanted_book_cover

~ The Diary of Anne Frank ~ I know that everything I listed so far is a work of fiction and that this is a nonfiction book. Yet the feeling I had when I finished reading this wonderfully written and heartbreaking diary is a difficult one to describe. I felt that I knew Anne Frank as a person because her words were so honest and her voice so real.

anne frank

~ The Chronicles of Narnia ~ For years I think I secretly hoped that the wardrobe in my bedroom would turn into a magical doorway leading to a wondrous world. This series is fantastic, though I don’t consider all of the books to be on the same level. C.S. Lewis gives wonderful insight on life and faith by weaving together these fantastical stories. The idea of living in the Shadowlands is one, in particular, that will stick with me for life.

aslan

~ Never Let Me Go ~ I know I’ve mentioned this book before. But it truly is my favorite book. It’s raw and real and honest in a way many books aren’t. It isn’t melodramatic, and its most impactful moments are quiet ones, almost imperceptible ones. But life’s that way isn’t it? Beautiful in all its glorious subtlety.

never let me go