Writing Exercise

Landscape, Storm, Rays, Clouds, Sky

Are you self-isolating due to COVID-19? If you’re tired of watching television, doing odd jobs around the house, or fighting for toilet paper in the supermarket, you could do some reading or writing exercises.

I got laid off from my job due to the corona virus and being at home has given me a chance to do some more reading and writing than what I would normally do. While I’m still waiting to hear from the literary agent I sent my manuscript to I thought I would share a writing exercise with you.

Gaze at the picture above. Now close your eyes and imagine you’re in a car, bus or truck. Can you hear the tyres moving over the road? Has it started raining? Is there thunder? What does it smell like where you are? Can you taste anything? Open  your eyes and answer these questions and the ones below. It doesn’t matter what order they are in. You can do it from your point of view or a character’s point of view. The idea is to play with the exercise. There is no right or wrong. It’s what’s in your head.

1  Where are you travelling to?

2 Where did you travel from?

3 What happened the night before?

4 Are you travelling alone?

5 How do you feel about your journey?

6 Have you packed any food?

7 Will you have to break your journey and stay in a motel overnight?

8 Do you run out of petrol along the way?

9 Does someone stop to help you?

10 Is there a murder?

11 Are you alive at the end?

12 How would you describe your surroundings?

13 Is there music playing or noise while your travelling? What does it sound like?

14 Does anyone annoy you?

15 What are the thoughts in your head while you travel?

16 Is there anyone to greet you at the end of your journey?

17 Are they pleased to see you.

18 If there’s no one there, did they leave a message with a neighbor for you?

19 What year are you in?

20 Are there flying saucers overhead?

Until next time, I hope you have fun with this exercise and stay safe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Am Querying Letter

Typewriter, Vintage, Write, Letters

Today I want to talk about query letters. My manuscript is completed and I’ve been researching on the internet how to do a query letter because I want to use a literary agent.

Many agents will ask you to send them:

  • a query letter (maximum 300 words);
  • your first three chapters; and
  • a one page synopsis of your manuscript.

Which Agent should I use?

The first thing I did was have a look at different literary agent’s websites and read what each individual agent within a literary agency was looking for. For example: fantasy, historical fiction, LGBTQ, Romance or YA.

I wrote my letter like a business letter, but used the agent’s name to personalize my letter. For example, instead of saying ‘Dear Sir or Dear Madam’ I used their first name.

Keep the body of the letter concise. I wrote mine in less than 300 words and no longer than a page in length. That includes the date, the agent’s address the body of the letter etc.

The most important part

Immediately draw them in with the hook of your manuscript to get their attention. Summarize your book in a couple of paragraphs. If you’ve been published before tell them how many times.

Why did you choose them? For example: I noticed on your website that you are actively seeking historical fiction…

Author Platforms and Blogs

Do you have an author platform or blog? If so, mention them briefly and how many followers on Twitter you have and/or how many page visits you have daily on your blog.

Awards

Have you won any awards for your writing. I came second in a local council writing competition, so I mentioned it briefly in my letter.

Word count

How many words is your novel?

Other things to include

Have you been published before? Make sure you mention how many times you’ve been published.

What made you write your novel? Were you inspired by another book or something that happened to you or someone else?

Make sure you include a short biography about you.

Closing the letter

Thank the agent for their time in looking at your first three chapters/the whole manuscript and tell them you look forward to hearing from them.

Sign off your letter with either “Yours faithfully” or “Yours sincerely”.

Next

Sit back and wait. Read and write or contemplate what your next novel with be about.

I was shocked because I got a response in less than 24 hours. The agent wanted to see my whole manuscript. The next day I received a reply via email saying they’d read it and loved it and wanted me to sign a contract. I thought the sun and the stars had aligned for me. I couldn’t believe it. Then the bad news came. I chose a a UK agent and I live in Australia. Due to treaty laws they couldn’t go ahead with my manuscript. They were very apologetic and said they were sure someone would ‘snap it up’.

Now I am looking at Australian Literary Agents. Next time, before I send a letter out I’m going to make sure that the agent deals with Australian citizens. That was a big lesson to learn.

The main thing to take away out of all of this is: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. (Sorry for the cliche), but I find it true.

 

 

 

Literary Agents

Typewriter, Book, Notes, Paper, Writing

Today I’m going to talk about agents. Agents are experts in the publishing industry and have inside contacts with specific publishers. They know which editors are most likely to buy a particular work and can secure the best book deal for you. When you enter into an agreement with an agent they will negotiate a fair contract with the publisher for you, protect your rights and make sure you are paid fairly.

The best agents are ones that have been in the industry for many years. Traditionally, agents get paid when they sell your work. They receive 15 percent commission on your advance and royalties.

The big questions is: do you need a literary agent?

If you want to be published by any of the following publishing houses:

  • MacMillan;
  • HarperCollins;
  • Penguin Random House;
  • Hachette Book Group; or
  • Simon & Schuster

then you need to have an agent on your side.

Agents take on clients based on the size of the advance they think they can get. If your project doesn’t command a decent advance, then you may not be worth an agent’s time.

Not every book is published by one of the above publishing houses, or represented by an agent.

Books suitable for a traditional publisher

  • Romance
  • Mystery
  • Crime
  • Thriller
  • Fantasy
  • Young Adult
  • New Adult
  • Erotica
  • Fiction

In comparison, non-fiction books would only be looked at if they anticipate selling up to 20,000 copies minimum.

There are also many mid-size houses, small presses, regional presses, independent publishers, university presses, and digital-only publishers who you can check out if your books doesn’t fall into any of the above categories.

How to find literary agents

You need to research which agent is best for you. To research literary agents have a look at PublishersMarketplace.com  On that website, you can search the publishing deals database by category, genre, category or a keyword to find the best agents for your work.

Until next time, I hope that helps.