Tag Archives: Epic Fantasy

Querying: A Necessary Evil

I totally understand the necessity of the querying process. It’s rough, but think about what would happen if we could just call up our top-choice agent and say:

“Hey, I write fantasy YA. Want to represent me?”

“Sure, sounds great. Send me your book. I’ll get it to the publishers and it’ll hit shelves next week!”

Barnes and Noble would be flooded with crappy, awful books that we would all have to avoid, and awesome books would get lost in the shuffle. Agents simply don’t have the time to give full attention to the hundreds of thousands of writers that want to be published. We have to prove ourselves, somehow. That being said, I hate, hate, hate querying.

I started querying two weeks ago. So far, I’ve sent query letters to 18 people. I’ve gotten 5 rejections, and 1 partial request. I’m still waiting to hear back from everyone else. I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t realize that the over-thinking, the constantly checking my email, and the relentless waiting would get to me as much as it has. Staying positive is so hard. I’ve always been kind of a Negative Nancy, and, starting with the querying process, I’ve been determined to turn it around. I have a mantra that I’ve begun to repeat to myself in between prayers. “My work has value. Someone will love it. Good things will happen.”

This has been my querying journey (and let me tell you, I’m just beginning):

July-December 2014– Agent research. I hunted down a large group of agents that take fantasy YA and put them together in a long list of website links. I threw around query ideas, and had a long document with about six rough queries in a row. I also spent these six months editing BLS until I thought my brains would fall out! Revisions and more revisions, my friend. It really helps!

January 2015Finished edits for my book and started to play around with getting together a really solid query letter. After writing one that I thought was decent and informative, yet short enough, I sent it to about 5 beta readers to have a look. Unfortunately, none of them had queried before, but they all gave me useful advice. I edited it until I was really happy with it.

First Week of February 2015– I smiled at my polished query, said a little prayer, and sent out 5 letters over Monday and Tuesday. Within 24 hours, I had two rejections. Both were kind, saying that my work looked interesting/promising but it wasn’t right for their list right now. I was happy to see that they didn’t say “your letter had typos and your writing needs more work!” but I didn’t want to be too stubborn to see what was happening. Such quick rejections signaled, to me, that perhaps my letter wasn’t sharp enough. I studied my letter and decided that, while it was a good length and well written, it wasn’t catchy. It needed to be memorable, even if I had to take out important story elements to accomplish that.

Second Week of February 2015– After spending 5 days reimagining my query, and having it scoured by a few more beta readers, I felt confident in sending out a lot more letters. Between Monday and Friday, I sent out 14 queries, and along with three rejections, I GOT MY FIRST PARTIAL REQUEST!!!!!! I danced all around the office, and my boss, who was on the phone, got super weirded out, but that’s okay. Because AN ACTUAL AGENT actually wanted to read 5 CHAPTERS OF MY BOOK! I was thrilled and sent it out immediately. (No word yet, but that was Thursday and it’s only Monday- and a holiday at that- so I should give it some time).

Here’s my plan for the rest of the month:

Third and Fourth Week of February 2015– Send out another 6 queries to agents this week and perfect my 2 page synopsis, so that I can send out more queries to people who require those (I have 10 agents I really like picked out). With any luck, I’ll hear back from the agent who requested a partial, and she’ll want to read more! And hopefully, more agents will start requesting partials. I just started the process two weeks ago, and I know most agents say 4-6 weeks, so now is when I have to start being a patient person. (I just snort-laughed into my coffee as I wrote that. Patience is for suckers -or healthy, well-adjusted people, if you want to look at it that way. Punching bags, pizza and headaches are for people like me.)

I hope other querying writers agree with me when I say that there is majorly conflicting information on the internet with regards to queries. Some people say that if you don’t get 50% of the agents requesting more material than there’s something wrong with your letter/chapters. Others say that, because everything is so subjective, that anyone requesting material is a good sign. I’m going a bit out of my mind with all of this. Seriously. Everyone says querying is hard, but I didn’t think it would affect me at a base, cellular level. Fair warning to soon-to-be queryers. Better write some positive, inspiring messages to yourself on your bathroom mirror. I have. Here’s some good ones to get you started:

goodthings fallingapart plottwist

The last one is my favorite. It cheers me up every time! All the best to those who are querying like me. I always find it inspiring to look back at now successfully published writers’ blogs and see how they handled the querying process. They all had rejections as well. I enjoy Sarah J. Maas’s blog a lot. She has a few posts from her time querying. Take a look. 

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The Editing Process: When Is It Ready?

This week is my last week of editing my book before I start querying. How do I know it is ready, you might ask? The answer is: I really don’t. I read recently that a work is never really done. I agree with this statement. At some point, you just decide to stop sweating the small stuff after you’ve ready through and changed the same sentence around 6 times.

That being said, I have worked long and hard on edits for my book. I have been editing it for the last seven months! I did many stages of adding/removing/story-changing/plot-hole-filling/character-adding edits, and have most recently drudged through the dreaded Slow Edit. Now, after spending nearly 2 months on the slow edit (on a paper draft), I have to plug in all the changes. I’m halfway through the book, but this part of the process takes very little time, in comparison. I am planning to start submitting to agents next week!

Here’s the general process that I used.

Early July 2014– First Draft Finished!!!

Mid July 2014– After a week away, I did a quick read to check for any glaring issues. I ended up adding a small battle sequence that introduces an important question.

Late July 2014– I pass my book along to my beta readers, who promise to finish the book in a month’s time.

End of August 2014– One Beta reader has completed the book and given me excellent notes. I set about making the appropriate changes and decide to introduce a character who I had originally planned to introduce in Book 2, in Chapter 1 of Book 1. It makes the whole story much more exciting. Thank you Beta reader 1! Beta reader 2 didn’t finish the book.

September 2014– I continued to make the necessary edits and additions until I was happy with the content.

October 2014– It’s time for a closer look. I took another pass (rather quickly) at the whole book, but spent extra time on the first five chapters. They had always been my least favorite portion of the book, and are the most important for agents to see! After this, I printed out a copy of my book and put it in a drawer.

November 2014– I took the month off to participate in NaNoWriMo. I worked on a science fiction piece to get my mind far away from epic fantasy! (Also, Beta Reader 2 has finished only half the book and hands me notes on what is done. Unfortunately, they’re much more about word choice and grammar, and not the story.)

December 2014– Time for the dreaded slow edit. I pulled the printed copy out of the drawer and went through it: word by word, line by line. It was boring, it was grueling. But it was necessary. TYPOS ahoy!

January 2014– I finished my slow edit. Yes, I’m not proud to say that it took me almost 6 weeks to finish it! Then, I started putting any edits from the printed copy into my Microsoft Word document.

And what now?

February 2014– Submit to literary agents. Set Burn Like Stars aside, and start working on Part 2 of the series!

Wish me luck!

❤ Cameryn.

2014 vs. 2015, Hopes and Accomplishments

2014 has been an interesting year for me, both personally and professionally. The year was full of professional accomplishments and personal trials. My family has been wrought with deaths, divorce and health struggles. It has certainly taken a toll on everyone. Yet, professionally, I wrote a book that I am about to start querying and I’ve moved into a dream company of mine, Nickelodeon, as a production assistant.

So here is my year in review:

Trials:

-Health struggles for my nephew

-Marital struggles of close family members

-Death of my grandfather

-Health struggles of two other grandparents

-Getting let go from a job I liked

Accomplishments:

-Getting a better job on a better show

-Starting to work for my dream company

-Finally living alone in a wonderful apartment

-My IMDB page has gotten pretty long

-I won at National Novel Writing Month on a separate book project: A YA Sci-Fi project.

-And the biggest one: Completing the first draft (and several rounds of revisions after that) of my first book, an epic fantasy called Burn Like Stars!

So, for 2015, I have a few specific goals:

1. Get a literary agent. This is a task that I will be starting mid January, after I wrap up my final Slow Edit of my book. It may take all year, but I will be querying hard and long to achieve this one!

2. Get a promotion at work. I work in television as a lowly PA. However, in 2015, I hope to get a promotion of some kind and leave the unappreciated ranks of PA-dom. The job can be very fun, but it is long and hard work with much physical labor and very little financial reward. Here’s hoping that I’ll be able to pay my bills by the end of 2015!

When Life Gets In The Way: Holiday Edition

The past few weeks, I’ve really been struggling to get anything done with my book. I’ve previously posted about my struggles with the Slow Edit, a difficult process and the final step of book editing before I start querying literary agents. The Holidays have, in particular, caused much of my lagging for several reasons: time commitments and obligations, lack of a set schedule and family drama.

There’s no way around it, the holidays slow everything down. In my naive idealism of my own focus abilities, I was sure that going home for Christmas for 2 weeks would be the perfect opportunity for me to STEP UP my writing game, stay focused, finish my perfect query letter, et cetera. How very wrong I was! With my sisters coming into town as well, my parents house was full of people and full of stereotypical holiday drama. It’s hilarious just how little I was getting done! (We’re talking one day, I only got 1 page of edits done. Seriously. 1 page.)  So, here I am, half way through the final slow edit, Christmas is over, and my hope to start querying in just a few weeks is sounding less reasonable. We’ll see!

Heading back to LA now, I’m leaving earlier than planned in hopes that a few days at home before I have to go back to work will be the answer. Here’s hoping I’ll be able to catch up to my goals!

NaNoWriMo in Hindsight

NaNoWriMo is over, and with it went my motivation. December 1st was supposed to mark the end of working on my intermediary Space Cowboy project and the first day back editing my Epic Fantasy project for the third round of revisions. Here’s the catch: 50,000 words does not a book make. My NaNo book needs at least another 30,000 words before it is complete, and I don’t want to stop yet. I am on a roll! The first draft isn’t really done. And that is why I felt NO sense of accomplishment after winning NaNoWriMo. It’s really unfortunate, actually.

In truth, I should have foreseen this. Projects are always more fun when they’re new, and I’ve been working on my Epic Fantasy for several years. I’m not ready to go back, but I know I have to. In December, I will have several weeks off of work and want to use that time to make any final revisions on my Epic Fantasy story. This is because I really want to start querying agents in January (February at the very latest).

Although, I will be honest- now that I put that down in writing, I begin to wonder: what’s the rush? I obviously want my book to be perfect, that’s no surprise, but probably, in the back of my head, I know I’ll always want to tweak it and at some point, I should just get it out there! I will definitely start editing this month, but I think it will be good to stay flexible and know that it will be ready when it’s ready.

And perhaps, while I’m editing Book A, I can keep writing chapters and snippets of Book B. The only one saying ‘no’ to me is me!