Tag Archives: query

Rethinking Debut Novels

Over the end of last week and this weekend I participated in Pitch to Publication, another semi-twitter competition involving editors, query letters, and the first five pages of my manuscript. Nothing overtly exciting happened to me, though I did get a little feedback (and will be getting more soon here).

But the most helpful part so far seems to be the conversations that occurred with other writers, and the editors.

I won’t go into all the details, but one conversation stuck out to me. It involved what exactly would be your ‘debut’ novel.

For example:

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And it went from there. It’s not exactly a new concept — most of us should write one or two books before thinking about publishing anyway. The book I’m trying to publish isn’t my first.

But I wanted to talk about it for a minute, because it’s interesting to me — and because of a lot of disappointment I saw on the Pitch to Publication feed (including mine).

Just because it seems hopeless to publish your book, because you’re told the plot is too cliche or the characters unlikeable or the themes too obvious (or boring), doesn’t mean the book will NEVER be published. Hell, it probably just needs a massive rewrite and a good editor. But if that’s not the case and you’ve been trying to publish for 5 years and it seems like a completely hopeless endeavor and you should just give up —

Relax. You’re a writer: this isn’t going to be the only thing you write. Something else may meant to be as your debut novel — and this manuscript you have right now, wonderful news: it can be published later, after you achieve success. Moving on to another project, one that is (annoyingly) more market-conscious and aimed to sell, does not mean you are abandoning your heart and soul.

I feel weird saying it. For me, and probably for you, writing is about the heart, and thinking of it in regards to ‘markets’ and ‘sell-ableness’ makes me cringe inside. Well, there’s a certain amount of get over it that needs to happen. Being an author is a career. You’re selling things. You need to be aware of the market and the whole capitalism thing.

This doesn’t mean that you should force yourself into writing something you don’t want to write. Or that you need to turn yourself into a only-business minded person (ew).

It just means pay attention. And try to be conscious of it as you write. Be weird. Be different than the trend. Think of a new way to do things. Push boundaries. Read and read and read and read things you don’t normally read. Be creative in your creativity.

Okay. Minor preachy-lesson over with.

Thank god I have a lot of story ideas. I just need to make them unique if my current one doesn’t work out… because now I’m uncertain it’s different enough.

What do you think? Did you participate in Pitch to Publication? How many ideas do YOU have running around in your head?

Query Love Begins . . .

I have sent out five queries today! It is the beginning of my querying adventure for my latest manuscript I finished, and I’m sure will be a long and patience-inducing adventure.

The last time I tried to query, it was for a different manuscript that wasn’t ready. I’m sure the self-doubt will creep in here shortly, but I feel positive about this manuscript. It’s better crafted, has strong characters and plot, flows well, and its concepts are better articulated.

So now the waiting game begins. The anxious, trying-to-stay-still, deliberately not checking email fifteen times a day waiting.

To make matters worse, I noticed a typo on one of my queries AFTER I sent it. On the word count, no less. I somehow switched two numbers around, which makes it substantially bigger than the actual count. I’m feeling pretty stupid, but am endeavoring to not let it get me down. It was a silly mistake to make and quite avoidable, but it is what it is now . . . I’ll just have to live with it.

Meanwhile, I’ll be continuing to work on Book 2 and the short stories I have cooking in my head. The deadlines for two literary magazines I’ve been watching are coming up shortly and I have short stories I’d like to submit.

I hope you all have a lovely and creative week!

What is the Genre of your Novel?

Yesterday I was finally been able to sit down to write after almost a week of chaos. Two of the goats on the farm I live at kidded this weekend, leaving me with four cute factories running around the barn. The moms are taking care of them very well, thank goodness, but one has triplets so we’ve been lending a hand to make sure all her babies are doing well. The little girl out of the bunch likes my fiancee’s lap the most:


Yes, I’ve been dealing with that cuteness for the past few days!

Anyway, I am attempting to get back on writing track, and obviously, to blog. I’ve gotten feedback from my first beta reader, and she’s absolutely loving my manuscript: she read it in two days, when usually she’s a slow reader who takes her time. We excitedly discussed plot, characters, and style non-stop for almost two hours straight.

So that was very encouraging, and I have a few more beta readers who are going to get their copies here shortly. I’m pretty motived anyway, but it’s making me feel a lot more encouraged to work on the second book, as well as working on lots of agent/editor research.

In slightly off topic but relatable news, I’ve recently run into a bit of an issue: I’m not sure the genre of my novel. It’s fantasy, for sure, with lots of magic. But then there are decent Steampunk elements; for example, advanced technology in a Victorian-like society. But my story doesn’t actually take place in the 1800’s – I’ve redone history with some big twists so it’s actually “current day” with advanced technology and Victorian era traditions. I hesitate to describe it as “Alternative History” because of the heavy amount of fantasy, and because I don’t think I’m anywhere near someone like Diana Gabaldon’s level of research.

Sooo I’m back to the simple “General Fantasy” genre… I just feel it’s more than that, and doesn’t cover enough of what my story is to really cut it. Currently my query doesn’t have a precise genre, but instead a fancier “a mix between this author and this author, appealing to fans who like their fantasy A, B, and C,” etc. I think it’s working decently well for it’s purposes, but I’m still are little perplexed. Before, when I read about agents complaining about authors who mis-identify their genre, I didn’t think it applied to me because the manuscript I worked on before was more cut and dry. But now… it’s looking like my problem.

What do you think? Are you have problems identifying your genre because of it’s odd little quirks? Do you have an idea of what my novel sounds like? Or maybe some advice on how to tackle this in a query? (Or do you want to squeee over the picture of the baby above?)

Query Help!

I need your help. Yes, you, the one scrolling past my post. No, I’m not asking for money. I need your opinion. Your honest opinion.

Below is my query letter. If you don’t know what is query letter is, it’s a short, engaging clip that outlines your novel and hopefully captures the attention of an (agent/publisher/whatever). It’s been likened to the blurb on the back of a book that gets a reader’s attention.

I would like your opinion on whether this query sounds interesting, or would be something you would read. I’ve spent a lot of time studying Query Shark‘s advice and rules, and cut things even when it hurt, hoping to make a better query. In the end, only one rule remains: does is capture your attention. (If it’s not your genre – well then I guess I’ve struck out immediately. Tell me that too!)


Since the death of her sister by magical means, Fairian has devoted her life to finding answers. But answers are hard to come by when everyone ignores anything even remotely resembling the word magic. With everything from Parliament re-writing history to her mother breathing down her neck with the slightest infraction of propriety, investigation is just a mite difficult.

Luckily for Fairian, the new city she moved to happens to have someone who can answer her questions. Unfortunately, he wants nothing to do with her and refuses her entrance into his dangerous and subversive world. That might have something to do with the fact that he’s the biggest mystery of all.

Nothing is going to end up quite like Fairian expects. Her obstinate search for answers is going to attract the very wrong kind of attention, both magical and human. It’s going to take all of her cleverness and all of his inhumane power to get her through this alive.

Of course, there are things worse than death. And here, they’re everywhere.

Written from Fairian’s perspective, INITIUM is a completed 120,000 word Steampunk.


Thoughts? Questions? Criticisms? Please?

Calling all Writers

This week is going to be the last editing week. I swear to god, if I don’t stop myself from editing at some point I’m never going to do anything with my life. Okay, sure it’s Wednesday so my week is half over – but I’m going to be done by this weekend! I have to stop editing and start querying!

Speaking of query letters. If I were to post my query on here, would any of you read it and maybe even give me a sentence or two of your thoughts? I’ve studied Query Shark like a stalker and am going to submit on the off chance I’ve done something wrong enough or right enough to get a response, but I would also like all of your ideas.

What do you think?

(P.S. If you don’t know who Query Shark is, ohmygod click on the link and find out. She is probably be the best advice and guidance about query letters out there.)

CNTRL-F is My Best Friend

My manuscript is complete. It’s an odd sensation, because I’m not getting the urge to jump up and down and squeal excessively (or collapse in a bed and sleep) as I thought I would. There’s a mellow satisfaction, along with the itchy sensation that I need to start pruning filter words and honing down my query.

(In case anyone is wondering what the heck filter words are and how to handle their menace: this is an excellent post.)

I’ve just created a document of 44 words I’m going to obsessively delete – or, more practically, cut down as much as I can (command+F is my best friend right now). I’ve already gone through and whittled away at “seem” and “suddenly,” and am quite frankly sick of looking at them. There are still a few of them in my manuscript, but they are no longer choking up my prose to the “-nth” degree, so I’m satisfied about those for now. I’m going to state the obvious and say how fascinating it is that there are so many ways to say one thing.

As for my query – that I actually started a couple months ago. I’ve had a little practice with query-making, due to the first manuscript I completed but is on hold because of a lot of structural problems. This query was easier to form, which I believe is due to practice as well as the lack of structural errors that plagued the writing of the other query.

Of course, there will be a few more rounds of edits for the manuscript, and hopefully a few beta readers. I’m hoping to start querying in a month or two. For now, it’s editing, editing, editing until my brain falls out!