Slush Pile Hell

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When querying an literary agent, one of the worst things is waiting. Waiting to receive another form rejection, not hear back or maybe a detailed rejection which, if it’s constructive it can be very helpful. But most of us hope and pray we get a request for more material and eventually it’ll lead to an offer of representation. Even the most profound writers have faced rejection at one point in their career. So one of the most important things when it comes to finding an agent is putting together the perfect query letter that is compelling enough to make agents want to request more of your work. If you’ve never heard of “Slush Pile Hell”, which I will link down below and you’re in the stage of querying or about to, I suggest you read it.

What Slush Pile Hell Is?

A unnamed literary agent compiled a list of the most crazy queries he gets. It really makes me wonder who these people are? When I read a few of the queries, I thought maybe they’re simply trolling him. There’s just no way people like this actually exist.

The Disturbing Part of Slush Pile Hell

I’m a bit conflicted about “Slush Pile Hell” because let’s be honest, if I were to query this unnamed agent, (I may have already) I’d never want to end up a poster child of bad queries for the world to see. I’d like to think since I follow the rules and check my grammar before sending off my work that would prevent me from being made an example of. And if my novel or writing style was not for him, I’d hope he’d politely pass, and never post my terrible letter online for the world to see. There’s a bit of an issue of privacy. It’s one thing to voluntarily send your work in to be posted and critiqued like with Query Shark,  but when it’s done without your knowledge it’s unfair.

If you read it you’ll never end up on it

But as cringe worthy as some of those queries are to read, I’m thankful that he did take the time to show a few examples so we can avoid the same pitfalls. The other reason is when you feel down about your query not being as superb as it could be then read “Slush Pile Hell” If you’ve followed all the instructions and read up on how to write a query letter you can avoid being another letter featured on “Slush Pile Hell”.

Slush Pile Hell

http://slushpilehell.tumblr.com/

 

 

 

 

 

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Figuring This Author Thing Out….

Being able to share the chaotic mess of stories swirling in my head has always been a dream. But I worked to suppress it. Why? Because I was at war. Part of me is an artist while the other side is drawn to the analytical. With opposing passions and enough to make strangers scratch their heads when they ask about my hobbies, I decided to do what made sense. Major in biology and publish a couple of novels. While both are rigorous tasks, it has resulted in major internal growth. My college experience and science courses inspire plots and characters and my writing disciplines me for a future career in medicine. I can safely say the further I get on this journey to my dreams the more at peace I am.

Twitter Pitch Contests

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I am very thankful to have learned about #pitmad created by Brenda Drake because it opened the door for me to look into more twitter pitch opportunities. If you are like me and are unable to attend a lot of the writing conferences and workshops because they are usually held in larger cities, then it can be tough. But thanks to social media there are growing opportunities. In case you have never heard of a twitter pitch contest, then I will explain it to you.

How it Works

On a given day an agent, editor or sometimes an author will organize a date in which prospective literary agents, small presses and editors can scout for manuscripts they may be interested in representing.

This is a great opportunity for authors who are new to querying because anyone who has ever had to go through the painstaking process of putting together a query letter, synopsis and sending off your precious baby knows that it isn’t always easy.

How to Prepare

In a pitch contest the catch is the plot of your book has to be distilled into 140 characters or less including a few hashtags like #pitmad, #dvpit, #pitdark.. etc. depending on the name of the contest. Then there are the labels like is it #MG middle grade, YA, young adult, NA new adult, A adult and then genre you are writing in #F fantasy, #S suspense and so on. I will provide a link down below that goes into more depth on the proper hashtags.

140 characters is not a lot of room, but make sure you are conveying these following things. Stakes, what is at stake? The characters life, marriage, soul? Conflict, what is the issue? An arranged marriage? Flesh eating virus? Who is the main character? Make sure to be specific. What makes them different from every other protagonist in a story. Why should the reader care about your characters? While you should have tweets that are clear on the stakes, conflict and main character make sure to have some fun and mix it up.

Not every pitch should sound like the same one reworded. I learned the hard way during #adpit. Be creative, be humorous, show some voice, and knowledge of comp titles like Alice in Wonderland meets Charlotte’s Web.

How long it usually Lasts

Most pitch contests are 12 hours some 6 hours and usually one pitch is allowed per hour for each manuscript. So you could pitch two books that same day. If you work or are busy that day and don’t have time to be on twitter then you can preschedule your tweets with apps like Hoot Suite for that day. If an agent is interested in your pitch they will favorite it, but beware of people who do not understand what the contest is and favorite your tweet.

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Always research an agent, editor or publisher before sending your work to them and do not feel obliged to act impulsively or even send it if you do not want to.

My Personal experience with Twitter Pitch Parties

The last pitch contest I participated in was #DVpit created by Beth Phelan and I did get a few favorites from agents interested. One of the pitches I crafted was one I just had a little fun with. Sometimes you never know. The most important thing is to enjoy it regardless if you land 0 or 60 favorites.

Links

Brenda Drake #PitMad

http://www.brenda-drake.com/pitmad/

Tips for writing the perfect pitch by literary agent Carly Watters

http://writersinthestormblog.com/2014/09/the-ultimate-writers-guide-to-twitter-pitch-contests/

Upcoming pitch events 2016

May 12 #PitDark – hosted by Jason Huebinger

May 21  Query Kombat  – hosted by Michelle Hauck, Mike Anthony, and Laura Heffernan

June 9  #PitMad Twitter Pitch Party – hosted by Brenda Drake

June 16  #PBPitch Twitter Pitch Party – hosted by Mandy Yates

July 1 Page 70 Pitch Contest ( #70pit16 ) – hosted by Lara Willard

Aug 3 Pitch Warshosted by Brenda Drake

Sept 8  #PitMad Twitter Pitch Party – hosted by Brenda Drake

Fall TBD – PitchSlam – hosted by L.L. McKinney

 

 

 

 

 

Querying

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It has been a month since I started querying. It started after an agent on twitter announced she would critique query letters if sent by the end of that day. So naturally I gravitated towards it since I had just completed my first two novels and was nervous about jumping in.

Preparing

Beforehand, I started by searching for all the advice I could find on the process of querying, writing the perfect letter, and synopsis. I came across a lot of useful advice and incorporated it into my query letter. Then, I had a few friends read over it and tell me if they got the gist of the story. Most of their feedback was helpful as far as them finding vagueness in my description or needing more clarity in certain areas. Although, I doubted some of their commentary because maybe they were holding back on what they truly thought because they didn’t want to hurt my feelings. But I tried to stay positive and trust they gave me the advice that was most useful and not just what I wanted to hear.  After the tireless process I was ready.

Querying

April 1, 2016  I sent off my first query letter. It’s bad enough I’m trying to query one novel, but two makes double the trouble. I had to pick between the two so I chose my second novel. In the meantime, I took my mind off of that first query and returned to editing, writing and preparing for #dvpit. I landed a few favorites during #dvpit, so three weeks later I sent off a batch of queries plus some more.

Rejection

This would not be a proper query story if I didn’t have the rejection especially the form rejection. Like all authors I received the Dear Author and Dear Daniela and then you finish the rest. My first was April 20, 2016 about 30 minutes after sending it I got the note. It stung somewhat, but not too much because I prepared myself. As someone who has perfectionist tendencies and a struggle with the fear of failure I read tons of positive blogs about how to cope so I wouldn’t become anxious. I just saved the first in an email folder named rejection. It didn’t take long for another to come in a couple of days later for my other novel, then another. I got two more today. I have to admit, it’s frustrating not knowing what exactly is going wrong with the novels. Is it the query letter? The manuscript itself? I really don’t know, but I am building thick skin. The most useful letter I received was the first one I sent. The agent explained she declined because of the market I’m writing in is not one she represents.

Moving Forward

For now I have 2 for my first novel skepticism and 3 for my second novel Volatile. That’s right, I’m keeping score. All have been form rejections thus far. For now, since I’m waiting to hear back or not hear back… from agents I won’t do much to the manuscript itself, she would critique query letters if sent by the end of that day. So naturally I gravitated towards it.

Preparing

Beforehand I started by looking up all the advice I could find on the process of querying, writing the perfect letter, and synopsis. I came across a lot of useful advice that incorporated into my query letter. Then had a few friends read over it and tell me if they go the gist of the story. Most feedback was helpful although, I doubted it somewhat because I felt maybe they were holding back on what they truly thought because they didn’t want to hurt my feelings. After the tireless process I was ready.

Querying

April 1, 2016  I sent off my first query letter. It’s bad enough I’m trying to query one novel but two makes double the trouble. I had to pick between the two so I chose my second novel. In the meantime I took my mind off of that first query and returned to editing, writing and preparing for #dvpit. I landed a few favorites so three weeks later I sent off a batch of queries plus some more.

Rejection

This would not be a proper query story if I didn’t have the rejection especially the form rejection. Like all authors I received the Dear Author and Dear Daniela and then you finish the rest. My first was April 20, 2016 about 30 minutes after sending it I got the note. It stung somewhat but not too much because I prepared myself. As someone who has perfectionist tendencies and a struggle with the fear of failure I read tons of positive blogs about how to cope. I just saved the fist in a email folder named rejection. It didn’t take long for another to come in a couple of days latter for my other novel, then another. I got two more today. I have to admit while it’s frustrating not knowing what exactly is going wrong with my novels. Is it the query letter? My manuscript itself? I really don’t know, but I am building thick skin. The most useful letter I received was the first one I sent and the agent declined because of the market I’m writing in.

Moving Forward

For now I have 2 for my first novel skepticism and 3 for my second novel Volatile. That’s right I’m keeping score. All have been form rejections thus far. For now since I’m waiting to hear back or not hear back… from agents I won’t to  edit the manuscripts too much yet since I don’t have enough feedback whether it needs severe help or not. Hearing from 2 or 3 agents each in simple form rejection isn’t enough say it’s the writing itself. I’ll continue to produce more query letters. Maybe I’m just not choosing my agents well enough? Or I’m selling the novels, short with the way I’m summarizing the novel. Who knows? but I will wait and see. For now I will keep you updated.