I believe I’m a prolific writer! This is not a comparison or a boast, it’s just my reality. Ideas flow into my mind with each morning shower and daily conversations with my nine year old, and by the end of the week, I’ve developed a synopsis and back cover for the story to work from when I have an opportunity to place ideas to paper or laptop. (I use both.) When that time comes, I usually can produce 1200-1500 words in one sitting. After 1500 words my brain begins to wander into mush and I need a break.
I never push the writing, it comes naturally and easily so I listen to the creativity and when it tells me to stop. I stop. Then after simmering and percolating for a day or two, with new energy I can pick up where I left off and produce another 1200-1500 words. This might produce a children’s picture book that is way too long and needs editing down. Or a YA short story or a few chapters of a MG.
As of yet, I haven’t experienced writer’s block nor have I procrastinated so much that I’m no longer producing anything marketable. My ‘to be written’ list is as long as my ‘to be read’ list and we know how long those usually are. Where I’ve become stuck in my publishing journey is in my querying. I have been actively writing for children for over ten years and I have only queried three agents which has only generated one pretty lovely rejection letter. My diagnosis is that I’m stuck with how to add that task efficiently within all the other tasks I’m responsible for in my life. Personally, professionally, and writerly.
I’m constantly balancing:
Reading-I complete one to two books a month.
Writing-currently completing my sixth book and I have six works-in-progress
Community Building- I haven’t yet found the right critique group or Beta readers but I belong to the regional SCBWI and I’m envious of the Writer’s Loft so I keep searching.
I recommend them all.
This balancing act often finds me flat on my face with querying.
I am a professional and I don’t want to represent myself poorly in the industry, nor break any of the rules that many agents put out there in interviews and postings. Mind you, I also have a kid in every academic level which includes college, highschool, junior high, and elementary along with a great day job with over 40 clients needing attention.
I first discussed this with a new Regional SCBWI accountability comrade, Ruth McNally Barshaw, author and illustrator of the adorable Ellie McDoodle series who blatantly asked me a much needed question after discussing all the books I have in completion or as a WIP.
“Are your books any good?”
“Are you a good writer?”
Wow! Way to get right to the point.
I am no humble one.
I have already prepared my speech for the National Book Award, Golden Kite Award, and the Academies after the books have been adapted into epic movies. Yes, I know, I know, “Pride comes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Just after my mansion (from book sales of course) is filled with awards. Daily I discuss with my 21 year old how I might not make it into heaven because my pridefulness is off the charts. I really love all I’ve accomplished in life and I love myself. Humility is something I have to work on and I usually do that with my true blue girlfriends and a gallon of icecream.
Yes, I believe my books are good and my writing is also. So you would have thought I’d respond with an assured and resounding YES!
But when Ruth asked me those two questions all I could answer with was a befuddled IDK. She suggested I hire someone to edit my work. Or even a writing expert.
Soon after, I had a fabulous lunch with my writing big sister, Lori Nelson Spielman who is the author of The Life List. She will be releasing, her second book, Sweet Forgiveness June 2, 2015. Her third book has already sold and she will be on a several European city tour provided by her German publisher within a few months.
Lori taught me three lessons about querying during lunch, but she also has a great article for writers on her blog. Check it out here.
- Don’t give exclusives. The process takes way too long, with the exception of your dream agent asking for an exclusive read after reviewing the query. If this occurs be very clear of a strict timeframe of no more than two weeks. Provide a nudge, then move on.
- Use AgentQuery.com or AgentTracker.net to locate a comprehensive list of reputable agents. There are other sites, but these are excellent for me. com just blogged about other great resources to use. That information is definitely going into the permanent resource file.
- Query, Query, Query. Until you get an offer of representation you are pleased with, continue to query, query, query and write, write, write to produce more and not go crazy while waiting on responses. Rejection is inevitable, after you have received 50 rejections revamp the query. After you’ve received 100 rejections, revamp the book.
These lessons have led me to create the 30 Day Query challenge. I love competition and even a challenge for myself is a yummy pursuit I’m always up for. Yes I am the crazy, screaming momma at all the sports games my children are a part of.
The 30 Day Query challenge requires me to Query at least five agents each day for 30 days. And yes this is with extensive research and exceptional professionalism. I have decided to give my agent super heroes a head start because I first want to thank them for being extraordinary in the quality of literature they place into the hands of young people.
Today I will begin querying 8 agents simply because I’m an overachiever. If you want to join me in it because querying is your issue check in and let the Querying BEGIN!!!