So, I've been assigned the task of telling you all what I've learned on my writing journey, which will be an on going theme on my posts. First off, I've always loved writing, from when I was a little girl with my first stories of a bunny named Hairless to my NaNoWriMo project that I'm currently revising. Though writing is in my DNA, there was a large chunk of time that I didn't write--during the daunting years of being a single mother, working a high powered job, and raising two precocious boys. It wasn't until I remarried and could stay home with the boys that I returned to the written word. It happened when my new husband--tired of me being too clingy, I'm sure--asked if I had a hobby. I said, "Well, I used to love to write." And then I went about writing my first novel.
When I finished that novel, I was so excited that I did a quick revision and started researching how to get published. I found that I needed to query agents first and that required a query letter. So I wrote one that ended up being over 500 words long (I kid you not) and sent it out to all the agents listed on AgentQuery. The rejections dinged my email inbox so many times I had to put the delivery notice on silent.
The first of my posts will be about the querying process but today I want to talk about my first mistake. I should have revised my manuscript more. Revisions are what makes your novel pristine, and if you don't have a manuscript that is near perfect as you can get it, you shouldn't be querying it to agents. After you finish writing your first draft of your manuscript, put it away for a month. Then come back to it with fresh eyes and revise it. Don't stop there and query that version. Revise. Revise. Revise. Find some wonderful people (preferably fellow writers) to read your work and point out all that is wrong with it and then revise again.
You might ask, how does one get fellow writers to read their work? A great place to start is at the Query Tracker forum here . I love Query Tracker, not only do they have a great forum, but also you can track your queries from their site. You can post your query letter, first 250 words, and synopsis to have other writers critique them. There's AgentQuery here that has a forum and agent research area. Also, Absolute Write Water Cooler here has a wonderful forum. Blogging and joining agents' and fellow writers' sites is a fabulous way to meet other writers. Make sure to comment on the sites. Joining twitter and following fellow writers and agents can be an invaluable resource as well. Just put your self out there and soon you'll have a passel of new writing buddies to share work with.
Don't get upset if someone doesn't like your work or says something you don't agree with, use what they say to make your manuscript shine. After all, what you send out into the publishing world will say a lot about who you are, and you want to be the best that you can be.
Until next time, keep writing and revising.
Brenda Drake is usually a stay at home mom with kids that are now ghosts. She's temporarily closing houses for her old company on a part time basis in Albuquerque for a few months. She writes young adult novels so she doesn't get bored since the kiddos are off running around doing their own thing now. She's currently querying one manuscript, revising another, and has a couple that she's buried in her back yard someplace where only the dog can find them, if he could still smell and see, that is.
You can find Brenda on her blog http://firstname.lastname@example.org