How does someone write a post like this? There are a million ways to try to convey the excitement. But I guess in the end the only way is the simple way, to just type out the words:
I am now represented by a literary agent. Natalie Fischer of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.
Now the above was my pathetic attempt to sound professional. I will now just tell you guys the story without any kind of pretense because you’ve known me too long to think I actually think like that.
I started my writing career with a story about a princess, locked away in a tower, waiting to be rescued. I was in second grade, and I added a few illustrations, folded the pieces of paper to open like a book, and proudly presented my novel to be read to everyone I could wrangle into listening. I never did get around to writing the “sequel” I had planned.
The Virginity Thief came after a few more attempts, some of which came with query attempts, as well. I brought characters to life, killed some, weaved some good plots and some bad; all until I got Mari Abdo’s voice in my head and I just couldn’t get it out. I knew I needed a plot worthy of Mari, and VT was born when I was 18 years old.
I started querying VT mid-January. I got a lot of rejections and a few requests, but in the end it wasn’t a query that got me an agent. Special thanks goes to Karla Calalang for this. Natalie Fischer joined AbsoluteWrite just as my novel was in the end of revision stages and I was to start querying. She was interested in Karla’s work and also in the work of any friends whose names Karla thought to pass on. At the same time, I got Karla in on an interview with Natalie for TWFT (read the interview here). It was a great interview and I learned a lot about the woman who would eventually be my agent.
Natalie found herself at my blog. She read VT’s description and asked me for the first 50 pages. I was ecstatic, and even more ecstatic when she sent me an e-mail a week later asking for the full. A week more and she told me she loved my novel (what wonderful words!) but needed a second opinion from a fellow Sandra Dijkstra agent to fulfill the agency’s check and balance requirements. Those were the toughest 2 days in my writing history. If anyone knows me, they know I am the most impatient writer alive. But then she sent me editing suggestions and told me if all went well, she’d love to represent me. Within a week I sent in my edited version and, today, officially signed with the agency.
I want to thank all my amazing Twifty and Oldies friends. Without you guys I would never have made it this far. To those of you reading this post who have yet to join AW, do so. It really is a fabulous site where you’ll get to meet people that will be an immense help to your writing.
And also, put yourself out there. I would never have gotten interest from Natalie if I hadn’t approached her for an interview and made sure I had a manuscript “blurb” on my blog. Don’t be afraid to share your story idea at the query stage!
And with that I’ll end this post.
Just one more… SQUEE.
Publishing, it has been said, is not for the impatient. Writing a novel can take months or years, getting an agent or publisher just as long.
Unfortunately, I am the heir to the throne of impatience (right behind my mom – yes, I blame the genes). All it takes is a well-meaning question from a friend or relative – “How are things going with the book?” – and all my suppressed nervous energy jumps to the surface. The truth is, my novel is progressing quite well – just not in any way that’s easy to measure or describe to non-writers. They don’t care how many words you’ve trimmed or how much better a storyline fits together. They just want to know when they can buy it (even if it hasn’t gone out to editors yet).
As a writer, it’s easy for me to fall into a similar trap. After finishing my latest round of revisions, I was tempted to send them off without having my beta readers look them over – despite the fact that I had made some major changes to the tone of the ending. I managed to resist the urge, but it was enough to remind me that impatience isn’t just an unpleasant state of mind. When we let impatience get the better of us – by rushing revisions, skipping beta readers, or developing carpal tunnel syndrome by pressing “refresh” on our email 40 times a minute while waiting for responses from agents or editors – the quality of our work is what suffers the most.
So how can we best avoid falling into the traps of impatience? I’m not entirely sure yet (as you can tell from this post), and I suspect different techniques will work better for different people. One thing that helps me is having another creative endeavor I can turn to when I start becoming impatient with my primary project – something that is not necessarily intended for publication and lacks the same kind of self-imposed urgency. Another is to read back through my work and remind myself of how much better it has become because of the time I have invested in revising it.
What about you? Do you suffer from writing related impatience? What do you do to avoid falling into its traps?
Aw, yes. You thought you outgrew the Golden Rule when you hit puberty, but alas, it shall continue to haunt you. I promise.
But let us not focus on what you “say” so much as what you “type.” Not in your manuscript. This is a little more professional. A little more “if you want to get published” driven. A little more frightening, if you want the truth.
Have you every REALLY thought about what you write on the internet?
No, no. I’m not here to give you the parental “child molester” speech, though that is certainly something to consider, I promise. Instead, I want you to think in a business-like way. Have you posted anything stupid, mean, compromising, or embarrassing online? Don’t lie. You have. We all have. It happens. But I’m here to tell you why it is best to watch carefully what you say.
Let’s look at this from the “you want to get published” perspective, shall we?
We’re teens. We’re vibrant and lively. Most every author on this blog writes in a thread on AW. Its casual. Its fun. But if you aren’t careful, it can get potentially dangerous. People can often forget they are in a public forum rather than a chatroom. People say things and talk about things that, in truth, aren’t a good idea to advertise to the rest of the world.
Let me just tel you, from experience, that agents and editors DO google you.
My agent found me on AW. My agent follows my blog. My agent is probably reading this post RIGHT NOW! And I’m fine with that. Lucky for me, I haven’t said anything TOO ridiculous online, but I’ll admit that even I’ve forgotten that my posts were insanely public.
Here’s a few things NOT to do on a public forum:
1. Complain about query rejections from specific agents. Other agents might see this and look down on your insulting of a fellow agent. And it just isn’t tactful.
2. Post negative book reviews on your blog. If you hate the book, don’t talk about it. You might wind up with the same agent/editor/publishing house as that author, and wouldn’t that be upsetting? Or worse, you might MEET the author you trashed. Karma is a bitch, remember?
3. Just don’t be unprofessional. Post casual things, sure, but don’t talk about getting drunk or doing crazy things that potential colleges/agents/employers might frown on. This applies for things other than writing, obviously.
I’m not saying write intensely perfect and/or grammatically correct posts on forums like AW. I’m all for freedom of speech! But be mindful. Anytime you post, think of an agent you are querying or may query soon. Would they frown on you if they read that post? Is it mean? Would it hurt the feelings of someone you may become connected with?
All just a bit of advice. Like I said, agents are googling their authors. A lot of them. What will they find out about you?
Tags: Cassandra Clare, The Mortal Instruments
Recently TWFT got the opportunity to talk with Cassandra Clare, the bestselling author of The Mortal Instruments trilogy (City of Bones, City of Ashes, and City of Glass.) Since I’m a big fan (*ZOMGthesebooksaresofreakingawesomeSQUEE!*) I was way excited to do this interview. Thanks so much for your time, Cassandra!
KB: What are your five most loved novels of all time?
CC: I don’t have favorites! That’s a big rule with me. Five novels I love: Checkmate by Dorothy Dunnett, Brat Farrar by Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers, Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner, The Maltese Falcon by .,
KB: What are you working on right now?
CC: Right now I’m working on The Clockwork Angel, the first in the Infernal Devices series, which is a series of prequels to the www.theinfernaldevices.com (and I want to show off the pretty website.). It’s set in Victorian-Era London. There’s more here:
KB: How has the popularity of the Mortal Instruments series changed your life as a writer and/or regular person?
CC: It’s allowed me to be a full-time writer for the moment, which was always my dream.
KB: Have you ever had a moment of doubt in your writing career – a moment when you were afraid you would never be published or felt like giving up? If so, how did you overcome it?
CC: I have doubts all the time. I might be having one right now. I think everyone does. I think you have to think about your work in some ways separate from your goals for publication. You just have to focus on the book, or short story, or project, as an independent entity without thinking about where it might end up, so to speak.
KB: Can you tell us about the first story you ever wrote (that wasn’t for a school assignment)?
CC: When I was about 13, I wrote a 1,000 page romantic epic called The Beautiful Cassandra based on the story Jane Austen wrote about her sister when she was twelve. (You can read it here. The Jane Austen story I mean, not my novel. ) It was terrible, but boy did I have fun writing it (and my friends had fun reading it.)
KB: If you could choose one fictional character (other than your own) to have a five minute conversation with, who would it be and what would you say to them?
CC: I’d rather have a five minute conversation with an author. I’d ask Raymond Chandler what really happens in The Big Sleep. Although I suppose it’s possible he never actually knew.
KB: What tips do you have for dealing with the wait for queries?
CC: I am the last person to ask because I only ever queried one agent and I got a reply the next day. I know, that really makes me sound like a tool, but I was very lucky.
KB: What was your querying process like?
CC: I met my agent through one of his existing clients, who had read City of Bones and recommended it to him. He suggested I query him, so I did. I knew I was interested in having him represent me anyway because his client list was impressive and I liked that he only repped kids/YA.
KB: How do you deal with writers block?
CC: I think sheer terror. I’m afraid of what my publisher might do to me if I miss my deadline.
KB: What is your ideal writing atmosphere?
CC: Writing in a big room, lots of comfortable chairs, with other writers around, also working on their projects and filling the room with a feeling of creativity at work.
KB: And TWFT’s token ridiculous interview question – What is your favorite flavor of jelly bean?
Tags: motivation, Publishing, unsolicited advice, Writing
Time for a pop quiz. Everyone get out your pencils – no peeking at your neighbor’s paper.
Which of the following is a good, healthy, sustainable reason to write a novel?
A. To get an agent and get published
B. To learn more about my craft and enjoy creating a story while I do
What would you be willing to give up in order to get a book deal?
A. A social life, my dignity, and my first born child
B. Time and the occasional TV show
Do you have at least three hobbies that are unrelated to writing?
B. Of course!
If I could tell you with certainty that you would never be published, would you continue to write for fun?
A. …I’m never going to be published? (bursts into tears and burns keyboard)
B. Well, I wouldn’t like it, but I enjoy writing too much to stop
Now obviously there is some middle ground between these options, but if you picked mostly As, we need to have a little talk. Publication is a worthy goal and a great motivator when accompanied by a love of writing – but that love for your story and the process has to be there first. Why? Because after you get that fabulous book deal, your editor will still want to work with you on revisions and your agent will expect you to write another book (you might even be contractually obliged to write another one). If you don’t enjoy the steps you have to take to get to the finished project, life as a published author won’t be a lot of fun. If you are putting aside all hobbies and friends until you get published, you might as well be putting them aside permanently.
My advice (and it’s hard for me to do this myself sometimes) is to step back and really think about why you write and what you want to get out of it. If writing is no longer enjoyable because you are constantly comparing your work (or work ethic) to that of your peers, or because you don’t have an agent, or because you are worried you won’t be published before age 20 – stop. Stop comparing, stop looking for an agent, stop obsessing about publication. Take a day to write something completely unrelated to the almost-query-ready WIP. Pen some fanfiction and have fun doing it. Allow yourself to type without critiquing every word. Tell yourself that if you never get published, it will be okay – no one will think any less of you as a writer or a person. Because that’s the truth.
If you aren’t writing for love first and foremost, why bother doing it at all?
Food for thought,
Tags: Band Geeked Out, Maureen Johnson, query, satire, submission
Subject: SUBMIZZION – GREATEST NOVEL EVER WRITTEN
Dere Sir/Madam Agent,
(mis. jorgeeeson, mister smiteh, ms. honnnson, Tara),
i hav been rightin mi latest novel 4 a while now, & i think u want to rep my novle becuz it is da bomb. best thing wirtten since ever, even beter then herry petter. do not miz out on dis oportunitee now becuz some1 will rep me if u donot hury.
i haz no prior righting exprienzze in publizhgin but i haz submited to megazeens b4 & the editor told me 2 keep workin becuz i would make it fo sho. i hav pured my hart & sole in2 this work, & u will enjoi it immenzely. as will da rest of the world, itz an ezcapez from the hustle & bustle of evryday life to a new world.
in this story, my MC whoz name iz Mary Sue (nicknamed Suzie-Mare) falls for this guy named Gary Stu (but ppl call him Stuewy) exceptzz hes not a good person. but she luvz him nywyaz. so this is a probeml, u c? this book haz evrythign – drma , love, mystri, intriga. it showz that nothiing is as it seems. readers will find that nothing will every ben the same after readin dis book.
itz a spinoff/fanfic of da most populer series these days, a nd i expect to rite a seriz of ten bookz, about 15K each. I only except chekz from mager bnakz, & u need to call me bak by 2nite, & sell it too scholzatic or rendemhoose by nxt wek.
-da nxt JoK eRowling.
PS i wantz a 10 figure deel for book 1 alonez.
PPS get bak 2 me asap so i canz start righting dis
So, that’s my latest query letter. Care to share any feedback on it?
Yes, this is for realz.
No, I’m actually kidding. Over at kt literary, (they rep Maureen Johnson!) there’s a contest of sorts going on, in relation to Queryday on Twitter. Come up with the worst query letter you can, break all the rules, and you just might win a copy of Josie Bloss’s Band Geeked Out. In addition, some of the other queries in the comments are really amusing.
Pop by here to check it out! Best of luck ;)