advice

Never Say Never

I’ve been writing for a lot of years. Way, way too many years (I’m old, folks). Sometimes it’s funny to look back on those years and reflect on the attitudes or ideas I had at any given time, and how that directed my work. I believe when you write, and stick to writing for a long time or maybe even your entire life, you’re always growing, learning, and evolving. New attitudes and ideas come along, your skills grow, and you try more new things than you ever imagined you would. It makes sense, because there’s very few creative and artistic people who stay stuck on one theme forever. You expand. You branch out. You give your ‘nevers’ a try.

I’ve had a lot of ‘nevers’ through the years. Things I said I would NEVER do. Things I would NEVER write, or try, or dabble in, or accomplish. Here’s a few of those things I said I would never do and then did them anyway:

  • Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. Many times I said I would NEVER get published. Oh, how I languished, and despaired, and felt inadequate and overlooked. I’d never have a book published. No editor would ever want me. No one would ever read my brilliant masterpieces which were actually awful at the time. Well, check out the sidebar of my blog now.
  • I said I would NEVER write romance. This was back when I was younger and trying to be a horror author. Like way too many people, I dismissed romance as fluffy, silly writing that ‘wasn’t real,’ and was just trash and drivel. Never mind it’s the biggest-selling genre in books since…the dawn of time, possibly. I was young and full of myself and never seemed to realize I was constantly writing romance into my stories anyway.
  • At one point in my life I went through an intensely spiritual, religious phase and swore I would NEVER write horror again because it clashed with my moral point of view. I tried switching to sci-fi during this time and I was really, really bad at it. I don’t know what was going on with me, but eventually I moved on, or outgrew it, and got back to writing about vampires.
  • Hilariously, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group question for this month was about whether or not you’d ever gone back and rewritten an old piece of work. I said I hadn’t, and swore I NEVER would because I feel that looking forward is the best direction. Well, guess what I’m doing right this very moment? Revising an old story for an anthology call. D’oh!

NEVER is a block, a wall, a stone in the road that trips you up. It keeps doors closed and opportunities undiscovered. I’ve found that just because I have a writing ‘never’ today, it might be quite flexible tomorrow. And since I know I tend to dispose of those nevers eventually, I’m trying hard not to create them in the first place anymore.

What about you? What NEVER have you kicked aside and done anyway?

5 Reasons You Should Start A Blog

On Wednesday, I talked about the reasons you should write a book. Even if the industry has too many books and not enough readers, that doesn’t mean we don’t need your book, or that you don’t need your book. If you’re looking for reasons to keep typing, go check it out.

Today, I’m going to tell you why you should start a blog.

I blog three days a week–usually Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, though sometimes it varies. So you may be surprised to hear that I, for the most part, freakin’ hate blogging. More often than not, I’m wracking my brain for the next blog topic and it’s aggravating. I never know what I’m going to write most weeks, unless I already have something lined up. I’m a tour host for Goddess Fish Promotions, because I want to promote other writers, but also because on average it gives me one ready-made post per week. I’m part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group because it’s an awesome, fun group, but it also gives me a blog topic once a month. I like when it’s easy.

So why do I blog, if I don’t really like it? Well, after you read the list below, maybe you’ll understand.

And here are some reasons why you should add another blog to the internet, because clearly what the internet needs is more blogs:

Five reasons you should start a blog:

  1. It’s cathartic to talk to yourself. When you start out, probably no one is going to be reading your blog, except maybe a few friends who are too nice to tell you no when you ask them to follow you. That’s okay. Blogging is kinda like a diary when you first start out, and it helps you sort your thoughts and learn how you feel about things. It also gives you time to practice before people actually start reading your blog. The more you do it, the better you get at it, and the more interesting things you have to say. It’s okay to fumble around when you first start. Somehow, miraculously, after two years of blogging I have over a thousand subscribers. That means I have to provide some content instead of just talking to myself–and hopefully, I’m managing that. Talk to yourself first, and you will learn to talk to the public.
  2. If you suck at social media, it will give you a platform. I really suck at Twitter and Facebook. I had a personal Twitter a long time ago, and loved using it, but eventually my Twitter fever went away. I have a personal Facebook I’m much more active on than my writing one, but it’s locked to friends and family. My writing Facebook, Twitter, G+, and everywhere else I’m expected to be are mostly full of promotion and regurgitating my blog posts. At least with a blog I’m still reaching an audience, and I can say more here anyway. I can be present without having to be good at everything.
  3. It’s great for procrastinating on your writing. I should be working on the book I’m writing right now, but I’m blogging instead. And I can still say I’m ‘working.’ Ha! Take THAT, productivity!
  4. You can reach people who don’t even read the kind of stuff you write. I know that most of my subscribers don’t even read romance and erotica, but we’ve made friends and enjoy talking to each other because we’ve found each other through places like the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. This is why I started a general writing blog instead of focusing on one genre of writing. I’m more interested in engaging other writers than specifically engaging other romance writers. This is up to you, though–but remember, if you make your blog very specific, you need to find a way to reach that specific audience. Sometimes broader is better. It also gives you a lot of freedom in topic matter, too.
  5. It provides site content. If your website is lacking content, if there’s not much to put on there, a blog puts some meat on the skeleton of your online presence. Also, it can be really good for driving traffic to your site. People come to read your posts and check out the rest of the site–that’s a big bonus!

Whether you have a blog already or you’re considering starting one, you should know this: the internet is infinite, and there’s room for you. If you want to blog, then blog! You have a right to express yourself just like everyone else. And even if you find it aggravating, there’s a lot of good reasons to keep at it

Have a great weekend!

Self-Pubbing Check In

I have about two months under my belt now with my self-publishing experience. My first self-published book, Black Mountain Magic, went live November 15th and I put it on sale for 99 cents on December 15th. I made a post talking about what I learned when I first started this adventure and I’m going to make another update now.

As of today, I’ve sold 218 copies on Amazon, 22 on B&N, 4 on Kobo, 5 on iBooks, and 1 on Smashwords, for a total of 250 books sold. About 75% of those sales have been the result of paid advertising, which I haven’t broken even on, so don’t cheer for me yet!

Here’s where I’ve done promotion. If you’re looking into doing paid promotion, my experiment may help you out:

Total: $203 spent on promotion.

Out of all these promoters, the only two who were any good and worth the money were Ereader News Today (which is ALWAYS gold) which netted me 106 sales on Amazon, and Bargain Booksy, which netted me 73 sales on Amazon. However, I paid twice as much for Bargain Booksy for less sales, so take that as you will. Would I use them again anyway? Absolutely.

The others got me between 0-10 sales. BKnights gave me back my money (I didn’t ask for it) but in the form of a credit to use on Fiverr. Books Butterfly guarantees your sales or your money back, but in the introductory email they tell you this is just ‘store credit’ to try their services again (also they weirdly track your visits to their site and list them in the email). Since they didn’t work for me I’m not even going to bother asking for a refund and chalk it up as a learning experience. Maybe it was my genre or the timing of running the promotion on a holiday (I didn’t pick the date of the promotion, they did).

Ereader News Today (usually referred to as ENT) continues to be the BEST site for promotion outside of BookBub (which is incredibly difficult/expensive to get into) and I’ve used them for almost all my books in the past. Some authors don’t use them because they mistakenly believe you have to have a certain number of reviews for them to accept you.  This isn’t true, you simply have to have an overall decent rating if  you have any reviews at all.

What I’ve learned so far: you gotta spend money to make money. But spend it in the right place!

Other things I’ve learned from self-publishing:

  • If you think understanding your sales with KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) will be easy, you’re gonna have a bad time. Amazon continues to lead the market in not making a lick of sense, so don’t expect the various confusing parts of your sales dashboard and your sales rank to correlate or reflect each other accurately at any given time. Just smile and nod, and understand if you want to get anywhere with self-publishing at all, you need to be on Amazon.
  • Smashwords has a hilarious attitude about Amazon, to the point I’m pretty sure they try to gaslight their customers into believing there’s no such thing as a Kindle. Don’t mention the word Amazon anywhere in your book. In fact, if you wrote a book about the Amazonian jungle, you’ll probably want to avoid publishing it on Smashwords. They seem to believe they’re going to be bigger and better than Amazon. Just smile and nod.
  • Send your book to reviewers and review sites yourself. Don’t pay for reviews, as this could get you kicked off Amazon for life. Of the 1,000 sites you send a review request to, about 10 will say they’ll review it and 2 will. However, don’t believe the scare tactic of “Reviews are the only way to sell books! Ooooh!” It’s not true. I’ve sold 250 copies with one review. I would rather get them organically than pander.
  • Trying to size book covers correctly is the devil.
  • If you’re not a super-duper popular author, the only real reason to produce a paperback copy of your book is so you can buy insanely discounted copies for yourself to not sell to people who don’t want them (also so you can run a Goodreads giveaway because you can only give away physical books).
  • Just keep writing.

So that’s my two-month report. The second book in the series, White Witch Magic, will come out February 21st and I’ve already racked up a wonderful 16 presales for it! I’m a superstar!

Rules We Love

This past Wednesday, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group question of the month was what writing rule do you wish you’d never heard? I had fun visiting various blogs and finding out what writing rules hurt rather than helped, or annoyed rather than bolstered. Some rules popped up multiple times. Some were unique like L.G. Keltner’s post that hilariously made me realize for the first time in my life that ‘i before e’ is actually not a rule at all because it’s only true about half the time. All in all, it seemed like everyone decided rules are meant to be broken!

So, I thought today I’d talk about the opposite: writing rules I love.

Here are some ‘rules’ (of course they can be bent and broken) that I felt really enriched my writing once I implemented them:

  • Get rid of filtering. This was like finding a hidden jewel. It was something I hadn’t even thought about until an editor brought it to my attention. It means getting rid of language that distances us from the point of view character. So instead of saying ‘she saw,’ ‘she felt,’ or ‘she heard,’ instead describe the sight, feeling, or sound, because we don’t need to be told the person is experiencing it–we just need to know what they’re experiencing. This makes the writing much more immediate.
  • No disconnected body parts. Hands don’t move on their own. Eyes don’t close by themselves. She moved her hands over the wall, rather than her hands moved over the wall. He closed his eyes, instead of his eyes fell closed.
  • Stop piling up actions. Separate multiple actions that can’t be happening simultaneously. Instead of “he walked across the room petting the dog and turning on the TV,” break it up into “he walked across the room, stopped to pet the dog, then turned on the TV.” I actually see this sort of piling up happening even in the books of well-experienced authors.
  • Action beats instead of ‘said.’ I shared this example on emaginette’s blog. One of my favorite ways to avoid using ‘said’ is the action tag: //”Oh my God.” Amy couldn’t believe this was happening. “Why today, of all days?” / “I know.” Roy’s heart ached for her. “On the day of your dead dog’s birthday!” // It shows who is speaking while also getting deeper into what the characters are feeling.
  • Get rid of gerunds. I used to be terrible about using too many ‘ing’ words. Once this was pointed out to me, I went on the lookout for them.

These are some of my favorite rules, even if I do bend and break them from time to time. What are your favorite rules?

You Know Nothing

This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. The awesome co-hosts for the January 4 posting of the IWSG will be Eva @ Lillicasplace, Crystal Collier, Sheena-kay Graham, Chemist Ken, LG Keltner, and Heather Gardner!

January 4 Question: What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

This is a funny question because I tend to take the teachings of my editors way too far. Once they show me a new rule or show me how something should be done, I then religiously use what I’ve learned to the point of forsaking style and rhythm. Only when I go back and find things feel clunky or awkward because of whatever rule I’m strictly following, I learn the real truth: sometimes, rules are meant to be broken, or at least bent. Preserving readability is more important than adhering strictly and unwaveringly to technicality. Style is just as important as structure.

That being said, what writing rule do I wish I’d never heard? Well, it’s more like one I wish writers would stop telling each other: write what you know.

This is a silly rule taken at face value. If people only wrote what they know, we’d have far less books about detectives, doctors, murderers, medieval kings, and time travelers. There would be no stories about spaceships and werewolves and superheroes. What we don’t know, we can research, especially in this age of technology. Sure, if you’re writing about something you don’t personally take part in, it’s good if you have a fascination or interest in it at least; however, it’s not hard to learn the details of most places, professions, and eras, or to make up rules for aliens and paranormal creatures.

Write what you know should mean to write about how you know people behave in certain situations, how humanity interacts with each other, and what drives us as people. It’s about knowing what it’s like to be a human being who struggles, wants, suffers, and needs. That’s what you know, that’s what all people know. That should be where ‘write what you know’ ends. It doesn’t apply to knowing what it’s like to be a Roman Emperor or a talking cat.

To hell with writing what you know. Write what you like!

Resolutions

It’s that time of year again when we make resolutions and promises to ourselves. The problem with resolutions is that we break them so easily, and the truth is we could choose to improve ourselves and our lives at any time of the year. However, the start of a new year seems to give us a clean slate, at least mentally. I think the reason a lot of resolutions fail is because it’s such an abrupt change. It’s hard to suddenly stop a bad habit and never pick it up again. Some people can, I’m sure, but for most of us it’s extraordinarily difficult. We would do well to start prepping for the change months in advance–that is, start doing little things and eliminating little behaviors that will ultimately set you up for success when you attempt to change altogether on January 1st.

For myself, I’m planning on making some personal changes, and I was thinking how best to make them stick. I haven’t done any ‘prepping,’ so what’s the second best solution? Of course, it’s the opposite of prepping–committing to the changes slowly over time. We see this a lot in people who want to lose weight. If you crash diet, you’re going to put the weight back on. If you lose it slowly over time and gradually change your eating habits and your lifestyle, it sticks much better.

Since this is a writing blog, I’ll address some writing resolutions that you may have, and talk about how to make them stick if you haven’t been gradually building up to your goal already.

Resolutions:

  • I want to write every day. If you don’t write every day now (I’m guilty of this, by quite a lot) you’re probably not going to start writing on January 1st and keep it up every single day of 2017. However, if you start in little increments: say, writing 200 words a day instead of 2000 when you first start, you might stick to it better. You may quickly find you don’t have time in your life to write every single day, but surely you can find the time to write 100 words? 50? It still counts as ‘writing every day,’ and the days you do have more time, you can write a lot more.
  • I want to finish X amount of stories/books in 2017. If you haven’t started on these stories/books, now is the time to start planning them. Project how long you want these works to be and how long it will take you to write them. You can perhaps schedule time frames, even. Also, pick a number that you know is realistic for you, or else you’re going to disappoint yourself and run out of steam. Even just one is better than none!
  • I want to get published. Whether going the traditional route or self-publishing, this takes work and research, and you need to do that first. Learn how to perfect a query letter, compile a list of agents or publishers, or research self-publishing services. With knowledge in hand you’re much more likely to reach your goal. Publishing isn’t just about writing, it’s a business too.
  • I want to be more active on social media/my blog. I’m terrible at social media. I hardly ever post on FB or Twitter unless it’s something promotional. However, I’m not going to be able to just jump in and become the belle of the ball. Start out making Tweets or posts a few times a week, then move up to once a day, and then if you’re really starting to feel comfortable with it, you can start posting multiple times a day and engaging your readers. Some people are just never going to get the hang of social media, and that’s okay, but remember as a writer making personal connections with your audience is important.
  • I want to get myself out there more. You can buy virtual tours, or approach bloggers yourself. Make a list of where you want to promote yourself and start finding ways to get in. Talk to people and seek out who is taking on guests. I’ve found that I can actually schedule tons of promotion without spending a dime this way.

It’s my opinion that resolutions shouldn’t be all or nothing, but should be a commitment to working toward improvement. Giving or picking something up all at once is hard, and will probably fail. However, a dedication to change over time lays a foundation for you to stand steady on.

What are your resolutions for 2017, and how do you plan to implement them?

How Long Should A Series Be?

All my full-length novels are part of a series. I’ve never written a ‘stand alone’ book (at least not one I’ve published) and I don’t know if I will in the future, either. In the genres I write in–romance and urban fantasy–book series are staples. Authors and readers tend to enjoy ongoing worlds and stories that stretch across multiple books.

The question is, how long should a series be? So far, most of my work is in trilogy form, though that may change. I’ve planned for trilogies and found myself at the end of the third book wanting to answer more questions and continue the story thread. Some very popular series are trilogies, and some very popular series are much longer and even still being expanded upon. I think there’s two important questions you should answer when asking yourself how long your series should be: what do the readers want, and how long can you write in this universe without running out of ideas or getting bored?

If readers love your series, of course they’re going to encourage–and even demand–more. Being caught up in the heady thrill of readers turning ravenous over your work is great, but it can also be dangerous. Make sure you don’t do your readers a disservice at the same time you’re trying to please them. It’s easy to drag things out or wander into the realms of the absurd when you’re trying to pump out ideas to satisfy others. Put the story and what it needs first, always. Know when it’s time to stop, or when you’re overdoing it for the sake of having material.

You need to pay attention to your own brain, too. If you want to move on to writing new things, if you’re no longer ‘feeling’ this world, and writing feels more like a task than a pleasure, that sentiment will bleed into the work and the prose will fall flat. If it’s time to wrap it up and you can no longer stand the sight of these characters anymore, it’s important to acknowledge that. Don’t stay in a dead relationship with your universe if you can’t bring a spark back to it.

So, how long should a series be? As long as it needs to be. You may have a general idea of how much you want to produce and end up finding it actually needs less or much more. The important part is that you should enjoy the writing, and the story is still doing a service to your readers.

Have you ever written a series? How did you know when to stop, or are you still going?

Release Day Is Almost Here!

My first self-published release, Black Mountain Magic, will come out on Tuesday! I’m really excited about it. You can pre-order a copy at all major online retailers right now if you like.

I’ve learned a whole bunch of stuff on my first self-publishing excursion. I’ll share with you some of those lessons, if you’re planning on doing the same and still need advice:

Thing I’ve Learned About Self-Publishing

  • Use a simple, non-fancy font on your cover flat. I learned this the hard way, after I received copies of it. The cover flat is the back and front of your physical book, that you upload to a place like CreateSpace. The font I used for the blurb on the back looks wonky. No one I’ve shown the book to so far has even noticed it, but it bothers ME, so I’m in the process of re-doing it. Making a cover flat and getting it to fit right is harder than you think. You might have to tinker with it over and over again.
  • Don’t be afraid of reviewers. I sent my book to a bunch of reviewers pre-release and some of them actually said they’d review it! I found them through reviewers who had reviewed my traditionally published works, as well as through the tour service I do blog tours for, and Manic Readers. You can also just Google ‘book reviews (your genre).’ Make sure you read each reviewer’s guidelines for submitting books and MOST will tell you if they review self-pubbed works.
  • Have a Goodreads giveaway! This is only possible if you have physical copies of the book to give away, since you can’t do an e-book giveaway. It’s free, and tons of people have entered my giveaway, much to my surprise. A large portion of those people also added it to their to-read shelf and a few pre-ordered.
  • If you publish through Smashwords, they will distribute your book to places like Kobo and B&N as well. I didn’t even realize this. Whoops.
  • If you don’t publish through Smashwords and use Nook’s self-publishing platform, you can’t put your book up for pre-order. However, if it’s distributed by Smashwords, you can do pre-order on Nook.
  • Most people have no idea your book is self-published unless you tell them. I haven’t had a single person ask who my publisher is. Most people don’t buy books based on the publisher, either (unless they’re looking for books from a publisher-specific imprint).
  • If you made your own cover, don’t tell people. Let them see it first and get their honest reaction before you tell them. 😉 I was pleased so many people exclaimed “oh, I love the cover!” only then did I buff my nails and do a little bragging.
  • Don’t check your sales obsessively. Seriously, doooooon’t.

I’ll come back AFTER it goes on sale and I’ve had a little experience with that and let you know what else I’ve learned. I’m sure there will be plenty!

Making It

There’s some painful truths we have to face as writers. Many of us–most of us, really–are never going to be literary giants. We’re not going to write books that go down in history and which kids are required to read in high school. We’re not going to have bestsellers. We’re not going to be asked to appear on TV talk shows. Most of us aren’t even going to make a comfortable living off our writing.

Does that mean you should stop dreaming about those things, stop hoping for them, and stop trying to achieve them? Of course not. But you also shouldn’t think you’re a failure if you never climb to those lofty heights. It’s a slippery ladder and the rungs are pretty far apart.

‘Success’ as a writer is not a hard-and-true thing. There’s no well-defined measure for what it means to be successful. This is mostly because every writer has a different concept of what success is and what they can be happy with. Some authors want to achieve commercial success and be a household name and they will never stop trying for that. Some are just happy to write and have a book to show their family and friends. Some take the accolades and income that comes along with writing very seriously, and some are much more relaxed about it and if those things come, they come. Each of us writes for our own reason and each of us has a standard we hold ourselves to.

No matter where on the scale of achievement, you’ll rarely find a writer who doesn’t say that the true joy is in the writing itself. Of course, I’m sure all of us would love to make money off our writing. We would all like to be recognized and have people say “hey I read your book and I loved it!” Of course we would. But there is satisfaction in the simple act of writing, in the process of putting words on the page, and we all know that feeling. Success for one writer is accomplishing that and completing a book, while success for another writer is when lots of people buy that book. But at the end of the day, we all sit down and write.

If you never ‘make it,’ you’re still a writer. You still get to be part of this community of people who enjoy and translate the movies that play in their own heads. If you never sell tens of thousands of books and make enough money to retire, you still get to feel the joy of creation. You still get to sit down at the keyboard, or take up the pen in your hand, and know what it is to have this blessing and curse. There’s no number of books you have to sell to be officially declared an author. You don’t even have to sell one.

Create your own idea of success. Make your own goals. Strive toward the things you want and rest easy in the fact that most of us aren’t going to be famous. But that’s okay, because we write anyway.

Query Do’s and Don’t’s

A lot of authors and writing blogs talk about query letters and dispense advice on how to compose one. There’s a lot of tutorials out there, some very detailed and informative. As an author who has written many query letters, and even gotten a few publishing contracts out of them, I thought I’d throw my two cents in as well.

A query letter is a pitch you make to an agent/editor/publisher in the hopes they will say “this sounds interesting, show me more.” It can be nerve-wracking and stressful to put together, as you only have one shot to make a good impression. As a rule of thumb, query letters should be 90% about the project and 10% about you. Why? Because agents and editors are busy people and they want you to get to the point. They want to know about the story. Even if you have 100 books published and a trophy case full of awards, those things have nothing to do with this project.

Write a blurb for your book–the type of thing you’d see on the back cover–and make that the bulk of your letter. Keep your own bio brief and relevant. For example, if I was pitching a paranormal romance, I’d mention the paranormal romances I already have published. If you don’t have any or many writing chops, mentioning any background or education you have on the subject matter is good.

A great blog for learning more is Query Shark. There, hopeful authors get real advice on their query letters and how to improve them. If you’re trying to write a query letter I suggest checking it out.

Here are some pieces of advice when writing a query letter:

  • Keep it short. 3-4 paragraphs maximum. Agents and editors are busy people and if your letter is pages long, they’re probably going to pass it over. You only get a few seconds of their precious time, so make sure you utilize it wisely.
  • Keep it relevant. Talk about the story, as I said above. Too much rambling about yourself and your plans for the future will derail the point of your letter.
  • Don’t ask rhetorical questions. A lot of new authors think this is a way to build excitement. They start with a hook like If ravens pecked out your eyeballs, what would your life be like? Don’t do this, it’s pointless and annoying and A LOT of publishing professionals don’t like it. Instead, ask yourself the question and put the answer in the letter. After having his eyeballs pecked out by ravens, Timmy finds his new blind life difficult and traumatic.
  • Put some technical details in there somewhere. Tell the word count and genre of your story, and if it has series potential. Don’t call it a ‘fictional novel.’ All novels are fiction, that’s the definition of ‘novel.’ Don’t say the manuscript is ‘complete,’ that is implied (see below).
  • Get names right. Make sure you don’t misspell the agent/editor’s name or call a Mrs. a Mr. You should do your research before you send the query off, so you have this information correct (however, if I don’t explicitly know if a woman is married, I use the ambiguous Ms.).
  • Know what you need to send. Every publisher and agent has specific requirements for what they want you to send along with the query. Make sure you follow these to the letter. Some don’t want anything but the query, and that’s all you should send.
  • A query letter is not a synopsis. A synopsis details a story from start to finish, in deep detail. You don’t need to do this in a query letter, and you don’t need to tell the ending of the story. A query is simply an enticement.
  • Don’t query unfinished projects. Your book should be fully written and edited before you begin querying. You’re not going to make a good impression if someone wants to see your full manuscript and you don’t have it finished yet.
  • Check your formatting. Email can do wonky things to your text. Make sure you give it a look over before you send it off–breaks between paragraphs, no weird fonts or random symbols.
  • Don’t be chummy. Unless the person you’re sending the query to is someone you actually know, keep it professional and focused. Use formal language, don’t make jokes, and present yourself in a friendly but not overly-familiar way, like you would in a job interview.

Querying is stressful, but it’s the necessary first step in getting a yes. There’s lots of information out there–do some research before you send that letter off!