Embrace Action, Release Results

I've been on a wild querying streak lately for my last novel MURDER ON TWILIGHT CIRCLE (MTC). I've done tons of research and am being very particular about the agents I query. This takes time and focus, but as strange as this may sound, I love the querying process. I like writing query letters, and the process is akin to courting your future partner, which can be both frustrating and exhilarating.

The key, I've found, is to Embrace Action and Release Results. In other words, be as proactive as possible in your search for an agent, but once you hit the "send" button, let go of the result. Of course, this is easier said than done, but it's a good game plan. And, when you're determined to be published, you must have a game plan!

Here's how I've broken it down:

1) EMBRACE ACTION - Write the best freaking book you can!!!

a) Take your time. It's not a race. Slow down and concentrate on the story at hand.

b) Have word count goals and a completion date goal. Some of you may remember a prior post I did on the Daily 1,000. For me, that's a daily word count goal that is achievable. If I go over, great! But, I do my darndest to get at least those 1,000 words a day in.

2) Have one or two people read your first draft.
Find one or two people you trust to give you the good new and the bad news of your first draft. For MTC, I had two people read my first draft - a beta reader (kudos to Julie!) and my faithful alpha reader (love you, hon). The crits I got at that point were PRICELESS and had me revise in ways I wouldn't have thought of on my own. I know some of you think you'd rather have hot needles stuck in your eyes than have someone read your first draft, but trust me - this can be the smartest thing you do. I highly encourage it!!!

3) Edit the book OVER AND OVER AND OVER again!
Seriously, edit and revise until the point you can practically recite the pages by heart. I read straight through for the first revision, and then over and over until I feel the whole story flows and is 'complete.' You may want to review a chapter until you've got it right, or keep reading from beginning to end, or maybe a little of both. How you choose to do this is up to you! Just, make sure you do it until there's nothing of any major importance left to change.

Remember - you're a writer. Therefore, there will ALWAYS be wordsmithing to do no matter how many times you read through your ms. But, you need to get to a point where you know that changing this word or that sentence may be a good idea, but it's really not necessary. You have to know when you are done.

4) Have beta readers read your 'finished' project and give you feedback. Take what they say graciously, but with a grain of salt. Only make those final changes that completely ring true for you.

Then, and only then...

5) Start the querying process!

a) Write your query. Polish it until you feel it's sleek, to the point, and interesting enough to spark an agent's interest. Remember, the idea here is NOT to hit on all the characters and all the plot points, but to give an overall feeling of your work. ALWAYS INCLUDE: Title, Word Count, Genre, and Contact Information!

b) Research agents thoroughly. The tools I use are: Querytracker, Agent Query, and Publisher's Marketplace. You should also check out the agent's website to learn about the agency and the indivdual agent's backgrounds and genre preferences. Absolute Write is another great tool to see what other writers have said about various agents. There are other useful sources, but these are the ones I tend to use. If you've got questions on any of these, please feel free to leave it in the 'comments' or to e-mail me at dlschubert@verizon.net.

c) Make the queries personal where you can. If you've met an agent or heard an agent speak at a conference, be sure to mention it. If you adore a book they've repped, mention it. Those types of things help get their attention and create a personal connection. As scary as agents may seem, they're human! We all like to feel connected. Here's a great article from today by Agent Jessica Sinsheimer that addresses this very subject.

d) Be prompt, courteous, and professional when responding to partial or full requests from agents. Make sure to give them exactly what they request in the format they request it.

6) RELEASE RESULTS! Congratulations! You've done what you can do. You've written a great book, gotten as much feedback as you can, researched agents, and sent out queries. Now, trust the universe to do its job, and get to work on your next project.

As written in my header, "Little By Little All Your Sweet Dreams Come True."

Here's to all of our sweet dreams coming true.

Namaste - I bow to you.;-)
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