Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Pitches, queries, and my YA novel

The first in series of blog posts for my 8th grade students about the process of trying to publish my YA historical novel.

As I mentioned in class, I have a manuscript (as polished as I can make it) ready for the right literary for agent, editor, and publisher. Many of you offered me such helpful feedback that I thought you might enjoy seeing what goes into trying to publish a book. I plan on posting any feedback that I receive from potential agents (good and bad). Should my manuscript find a home, I will also share the details and the process that transpires.

Currently, I am in what is called the query stage. If you glance at my query letter, you will notice that a query is basically a pitch. I am pitching my manuscript and who I am as a person and writer to literary agents who might deem me and my manuscript worthy of a shot. This is the copy of my query letter

Now, I revise the opening to make it personal to each agent, but this is the basic form of what I came up with. It wasn't easy. For this, I leaned on Mrs. Kropp's help (did you know that she was a literary agent before becoming a teacher?).

Before pitching a manuscript, a writer has to figure out who to pitch. Not every literary agent is interested in the kind of book that I wrote, and not every literary agent is even accepting manuscripts. Sometimes you have to wait until they are ready to receive new ideas. 

For instance, I had planned on pitching an agent at Full Circle Literary Agency but they note on the first page of their website that they are closed to submissions until early February. So, I bookmarked them, and made a note to myself to pitch them when they are ready.

Some great advice I found in some magazines and online is to query/pitch new literary agents. New literary agents are actively seeking clients, especially new writers.

I found some agents in a book called the 2012 Guide to Literary Agents. Other agents came to my attention through a magazine called Writer's Digest. However, many agents are on Twitter--and I follow them. Often, an agent on Twitter will share their thoughts about writing, wish lists, and the publication world. I have learned a lot just be following many on Twitter.

I am keeping a running list of the agents I pitch and when I pitched them. Many state that it takes 4-6 weeks on average to hear back from them. You can click on their names to see the kinds of things they ask for in a query letter. It isn't always the same, so you have to be careful and read the details. This is my list so far:

My first outline of the story in my writer's notebook.
Tuesday, January 7

Saturday, January 11

Sunday, January 12

Monday, January 13

To conclude this first blog entry on the process, finding a literary agent is not the end by any stretch of the imagination. It is the beginning the rest of journey of trying to publish a book. If someone wants to work with and take me on as a client, they will make suggestions and turn me and the manuscript over to an editor--that could take a long time (which is ok). And by the way, I may never find an agent. Many stories exist of writers going through hundreds of pitches and rejections before landing an agent!

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