Monday, February 14, 2011

WRITING JOURNEY TOURNIQUET - Avoid shooting yourself in the foot

 Happy Valentine's Day!!!

And we have a winner! First order of business is to announce the winner from my blog contest. The one where I said I was going to pull a follower from this site during my contest It Was a Dark and Stormy Blogfest Contest . So I pulled names from DNA's blogger followers list and the NetworkedBlog list and after random selection the winner is ...

Melissa at Chasing the Dream 

She wins a $35 dollar editing gift certificate or a ten page critique or a synopsis critique (up to four single spaced pages) from CA Marshall, literary agent intern, freelance editor, writer extraordinaire. Melissa, DM me your email address on my twitter account @brendadrake and I'll send you the gift certificate.

And we have more winners! On Thursday, we posted a contest to write a story using a writing prompt, with the prize of a query critique by Shelley Watters. But rather than having one winner, she picked two!  And the winners are...

Patricia Lynne
A.L. Sonnichsen

(Please email Shelley at SWattersWrites (at) gmail (dot) com to claim your prize. )

More prizes to be had - Before we get to my scheduled post, DNA Writers will be holding a contest with fun prizes such as critiques, books, and an amazon gift card soon, so check back for the contest deets coming soon! 

And now back to my scheduled post...

Avoid shooting yourself in the foot!

Last post we talked about the query letter and my second mistake of sending it out before it was ready and critiqued by someone other than myself, like other writers and not my mom, sister, husband, or dog. Well, once you have that query all sparkling and ready you'll want to send it out to every single agent listed on QueryTracker or Agent Query, right? Before you cock that gun and aim at your favorite agents, hold on. There's  a better way other than shooting blind and hoping you hit the bulls-eye with as many bullets as you can fire at once.

Start by sending out just a few queries, let's say anywhere between eight and twelve at a time. Wait. See what response you get back. If you only getting rejections than you need to rework that query. If you're getting requests for more pages than you've got a good query. If the requests for more pages start coming in as rejections than you need to edit your manuscript more. Really tighten up those sentences and try to figure out why those pages are generating nos.

After you've done a revision from the responses don't go all postal and fire off your query to all your potential agents. Again, only send out eight to twelve more and wait for responses. Keep doing that query a few and then revise until you start getting full requests. When you start getting requests for fulls than you know that your query and your sample pages are working. Now, hopefully you'll get an agent from one of those fulls, but if you don't, maybe you'll be lucky to get some agent feedback on what's not working.

If you get agent feedback, or if you don't, this is when you need to stop submitting the manuscript to agents before you run out of ones to query. Have some new eyes critique it and then revise again. When you're done repeat the steps listed above. Oh, and while you're doing all of that querying and revising, you'll want to be writing that new story because the one your querying might not be the one that gets you an agent. It may well be a future manuscript that will get you into the coveted world of being an agented writer.

Well, that's it until next time. Thanks for stopping by.

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


  1. Great advice, Brenda! Congrats to Melissa!!

  2. Great advice Brenda! The only thing I would add would be to not query your top choice agents first. Wait and see what feedback you get first - then use that new knowledge to target your top choice agents. Otherwise you've lost your chance to really shine in their query pile!

    Congratulations to all the winners!!

  3. I made this very same mistake, and boy, do I regret it. Now that I have beta readers, I realize just how much work my query and manuscript needed! You give good advice.

  4. Wow, thank you so much!!!

    Great advice:) I hope to start querying in late March or early April, so I'll remember this.

  5. Wow! I'm so excited to win a query critique from Shelley. Thank you!!

    This is such a fun blog. Keep up the good work.


  6. Yay! Congrats to all the winners! <3

    And good point about waiting a bit before querying. I totally made that mistake with my first book!

  7. Congrats to the winners!

    Thanks for the tips about querying and getting rejections. That it might be a bad query letter...*A light just came on* =)

  8. Thanks for the comments. I'm glad to help anyone who is about to take those same steps I've already taken. Looking at that project I queried with experienced eyes, there's many great elements to the story and I may visit it again and see if I can give it new life. :D

  9. Thank you for the terrific information and congratulations to the winners!

  10. Great post Brenda! I did the same thing when I first started querying *wince!* And I agree with Shelley's comment.... at least, not ALL your top-agents :)