Writing to Right: Positive Habits

“Your words become your destiny”…a paraphrase of a favorite quote by the wise Mahatma Gandhi…powerful words which resonate loudly with me, especially this time of year. I have SO MUCH to be thankful for, yet I often find myself complaining more when things go wrong than sharing the things I appreciate.

While I believe the energy we put out has a direct effect on who we become, I don’t always make a conscious effort to be the positivity I value so much in others. So, I’ve decided to use the month of November to reflect on all the positive in my life. Each day, I will share one thing I am thankful for on my Facebook page. Although it would take much more than 30 posts to cover everything I am thankful for, it’s been rumored that habits are formed by doing something three times in a row…here’s hoping for a habit 🙂

TODAY: I want to thank the wonderful network of people I’ve met through writing. For almost 8 months I’ve been chasing my book dream, immersing myself in writing as an artform and a business. The ride has has been amazing and I’m fortunate to have met SO MANY writers, agents and editors who’ve offered their time and support along the way.

One thing that has been particularly helpful are #askagent sessions on Twitter. An #askagent session is when agents and editors carve out a specific period of time to answer questions from writers on Twitter. Writers can ask anything about the business but it’s a classic case of “you don’t know what you don’t know” so without a solid understanding of publishing, my questions started off pretty basic. Fortunately, as I began to learn the business, my questions became more complex and the answers more insightful.

Looking back, it would have been great to have a list of frequently asked questions to reference during #askagent sessions those first few months, so I’ve compiled all of mine from the last 8 months along with their answers in the list below . Whether you are new to writing, well into your journey or just interested in the business, I hope you find it helpful! I am anxious and excited to reciprocate the support I’ve received this year with others. It’s the least I can do!

Agent: Uwe Stender

Q: If I am querying an interactive, novelty picture book, is sharing my vision for the finished product a turn off or a selling point to agents? 

A: It would be a turn off for me, but other agents may feel differently.


Q: I’ve received a request for additional manuscripts as a result of a query. Is it appropriate to take a day or two to polish up the other manuscripts before sending? 

A: Sure. Although I would be cautious with querying multiple manuscripts simultaneously.


Q: What are your query pet peeves? 

A: There are so many pet peeves. The biggest: being too full of yourself. Be humble. Query the project, don’t brag how genius it is.


Q: What advice would you give a writer trying to break into the business? 

A: Work on your craft and never give up.


Q: What is currently missing from you manuscript wishlist? 

A: I would love more MG, a GREAT YA Fantasy, fun non-fiction pop culture.


Agent: Justin Wells

Q: If an agent requests additional manuscript projects in response to a query, is it best to send an MS similar to the original one queried or different to show range? 

A: It depends on what they represent! If they represent a wide range, I don’t see why you couldn’t work across a range!


Q: What would you suggest to writers hoping to grab your attention during pitch contests? Queries? 

A: For contests, just really practice your pitches. You only have so many characters for the Twitter ones, so practice ahead of time and come up with some great ones you can use.


Q: Is it appropriate to incorporate marketing ideas into a query letter? 

A: I wouldn’t suggest it! I’d hold off until the agent shows interest and then discuss those things.


Agent: Kaitlyn Johnson 

Q: If you pass but provide suggestions for improving the manuscript, how long is ideal to wait before resubmitting? 

A: Be sure the agent is open to seeing it again. It never hurts to email back asking if, should you revise, they’d look again. For significant edits, we probably expect at least 2 months. Quick edits often mean it was sloppy or advice wasn’t followed.


Q: What is the biggest trend you are seeing in publishing right now? 

A: Witches are on the uptick again. I think creatures, too (shifters, def). We’re reaching for the weird!


Q: What would compel you to take a chance on a unique story concept (without true comps) if written by a debut author? 

A: If I love the story and think it has potential. I don’t invest too much hope in comps. I focus on story/characters.


Agent: Natascha Morris

Q: What are you looking for in a Twitter pitch? Are there any don’ts? 

A: I want to know about the book, and if there is space – a comp. I’ve picked up 2 or 3 of my 10 from Twitter events.


Q: Are there formats that you’ve found help to better convey the book plot to you? 

A: Nope. I’m not picky. Avoid emojis though.


Agent: Rachel Brooks

Q: What are you looking for in a Twitter pitch? Are there any don’ts?

A: Using hashtags helps so we know age category, genre, etc. Most Twitter pitch contests don’t want you directly @-ing agents.


Agent: Moe Ferrara

Q: Can writers query another agent if the first one passes? 

A: Absolutely. We are not a “no from one is a no from all” agency!


Q: Do agents prefer comps to be included in a query? Is follow up encouraged or discouraged? 

A: Only if your comps come easily. If you struggle leave them out. Plus, the agent may not know the comps too!


Q: Is there a better/worse time of year to query? 

A: I don’t think so. I get about the same number of queries a month year round. Though December holidays are a rough time!


Agent: Jessica Alvarez

Q: Is there a better/worse time of year to query? 

A: For me, December and August are tougher, but really sending it whenever is fine.


Q: Do agents prefer comps to be included in a query? Is follow up encouraged or discouraged? 

A: Either way with comps is fine for me. And follow-up is fine, as long as it’s not too  much or too soon.


Agent: Tracy Marchini

Q: Do agents offer single book deals to picture book writers or will they only consider multi-book deals?

A: We’re looking to offer rep for an author’s whole career, not just one at a time. So if you sub me one pb & I like it, I always ask for more!


Q: Thanks Tracy! If you ask for more and don’t love the others as much as the first is that a deterrent from offering representation? 

A: It really depends. Do I see potential in the others? Or does it feel like there’s one great idea and the rest have significant issues.





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