Tag Archives: finding an agent

Returning to Battle: Second Time’s a Charm?

6 Sep

I’m doing it again! Pitch Wars, that is.  And can I tell you how excited I am?

It really happened!

I feel more fortunate than ever.  Because with Pitch Wars, the odds are most definitely not in your favor. This year, Brenda Drake’s epic contest garnered the highest number of entries yet–somewhere around 2600.  That makes the odds of getting in about the same as getting into the Ivy League. (!!)  But if you do get in, the odds of getting an amazing, super-cool, loves-you-like-their-own mentor is extremely high. These mentors are in it for the love, man. They love writing, they love writers and they love helping you make your manuscript the best it can be.

I’m thrilled to have Cass Catalano and Shauna Holyoak as my mentors this year (yeah–I got two! Bonus!) Together with me and my fellow mentee, Gaye Sanders, we are Team oMG. For the uninitiated, MG means middle grade, which means readers typically between 8 and 12 years old. I love writing MG because those years are such a pivotal time in life. It’s exciting and scary, and books can be a great companion, helping you figure it all out.  Actually, that sounds like me, now, with my mentors!

oMG squad hug

Seriously, although I entered hoping to get the opportunity to put my work in front of some top-notch agents, no matter whether I connect with one or not, I know I will get something hugely beneficial out of Pitch Wars this year: a community.

I first entered Pitch Wars three years ago and I gained a lot, including becoming a stronger writer, but most beneficial was the community I became a part of. Our group of over 80 mentees is still in touch, supporting each others’ writing and celebrating each new book published by one of us. And so far, there are a lot!! That deserves a separate post, which I promise I’ll do soon. I also connected with a super-supportive mentor, Lisa Lewis Tyre, whose writing I love. You can check out her debut novel, Last in a Long Line of Rebelshere and she’s got another book, Hope in the Holler, coming out in early 2018.

This year’s Pitch Wars class is turning out to be incredibly supportive and fun. I’m loving being a part of this group and am learning everything I can from them as well as Shauna and Cass. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about–taking my writing to the next level so that (hopefully someday) my words will be out in the world, touching the hearts of children.

The next step is revising, revising, revising and honing my pitch for the agents. I’m ready to take on the challenge!

Prepare for battle

The best free writer’s “conference” ever

19 May

About a year ago, I found a place where writers, agents and editors gather regularly to discuss writing, offer thoughts on revisions, and generally just shoot the breeze (am I dating myself again?). A place where newer writers rub elbows with established authors, and weekly chat sessions are set up to help participants improve their art.

It’s free, and you don’t have to even leave the comfort of your living room/office/kids’ playroom to attend.

It’s Twitter.

I’m sure the majority of those reading this blog already recognize the benefits of this particular social media outlet. I myself was skeptical until fellow Chick Peggy sat down with the rest of us and demonstrated the basics on setting up an account and using hashtags, etc. I mean, really? The number sign is that big of a deal?

Yes, it is.

Consider this as an example – #yalitchat is a chat that is held each Wednesday night at 9 p.m. EST for writers of young adult novels. Conversation is usually started around a specific topic, such as using voice in writing. During once such chat last year, I mentioned that I was searching for a critique group and someone responded that a great group meets in south Orlando (actually just five minutes from my house). So I joined the OWLS and have been thrilled with that decision. I also met a local author, found new critique partners and learned (and contributed) a great deal. There are other chat sessions held, including #mglitchat (for writers of middle grade). The # organizes the tweets and helps the topic become more searchable.

I started following several agents and editors to gain insight into the industry. Boy, did I learn a lot about what to do and, most especially, what NOT to do when querying! In fact, some of the most helpful agents and editors share this knowledge frequently through categories such as #askagent, #editreport, #askeditor and #10queriesin10tweets.

Twitter’s also great for laughs (check out @ohmrwonka for condescending Wonka tweets and @Lord_Voldemort7 for, well, I’m sure you can figure that out). Lots of cute pics of kitties shared, too (um, not on Lord Voldemort’s site, I hope).

Not sure where to start or who to follow? Sign up for an account, then click on the “# Discover” at the top menu. Type your interest, such as “writing,” into the search box and there you have it!

If you haven’t taken advantage of all the opportunities Twitter offers, you’re missing out.

For those already established, do you have any favorite hashtag conversations or suggestions? (updated: here’s a great site with hashtag suggestions for authors)

Now go forth and tweet!

How auditioning for The Voice is like finding an agent

21 Feb

This is definitely not me

I’ve recently started watching The Voice on TV and have noticed something (other than the fact that at their worst, these people out-sing me at my best): auditioning for The Voice is very much like querying agents.

1) They’re looking for that unique voice.

If you watch the show, you know that the four esteemed judges don’t see the contestants until after they sing. They listen. They decide. They either hit the button or don’t. If they hit the button, that means they found something in the person’s voice that appeals to them. And more often than not, you hear them say that the person’s voice is “unique” or “different.” Sometimes a little more different than I like, but there you go. If they don’t press the button, it doesn’t mean the person’s voice isn’t strong; it might just mean the voice sounds like every other singer.

Like the judges on The Voice, agents (or editors) may think a manuscript is strong, but it might be missing that unique voice that sets it aside from every other one they see.

This could possibly be me

2) It’s all a matter of personal preference.

Querying authors have all heard it: “This is such a subjective business.” “What appeals to one agent might not appeal to another.” “I know you’ll find the perfect agent for you.”

And it’s actually true.  Within one hour, I received a rejection on my query and five pages and then a request from another agent who read my query and ten pages. It made me laugh, but at the same time, it drove home the fact that my query “doesn’t suck;” my book “doesn’t suck.” It’s just a matter of finding the right agent at the right time. I’ve received enough requests now from agents who have already read pages from the manuscript to make me more confident in my work.

3) Agents get rejected, too.

As Adam Levine told a contestant who had not received any votes, “Hey, we’ve been there.” Most celebrities have been put through the ringer of rejection, and, similarly, agents have had their own share of rejections by publishers. So they know what it’s like. They don’t like it any more than authors do. Which is probably why some rejection letters are three times longer than they need to be in an attempt to soften the blow. They understand.

I’m looking forward to the day that the agent in the red Star-Trek-style chair presses the button to accept me as a client. And it’ll happen (sans cool red chair, I guess). For those of you playing in the same sandbox, my fingers are crossed that it’ll happen to you, too!

*disclaimer: poster does not have the voice to sing for The Voice, so she is writing this as a lazy observer sitting in her comfy chair at home 😉

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