For Writers

Questions from writers, about writing:

I'm writing a book. Can you read it and tell me what you think?

For legal reasons, I can't review any book/story/project that isn't already under contract. Sorry!

I'm writing a book. Can you give me some advice on how to get started?

Yep. Sit your butt in the chair and write. Remember, writing is rewriting. Your first draft will be like smearing poop onto the screen of your computer. It will suck that bad. But go in and edit, edit, edit. Then once you've edited, edit some more!

Get other people, called critique partners, to read your work. Sometimes it's difficult to hear honest feedback on your work, especially if it comes across as negative. But remember, if your work has any major flaws, you WANT to sort it out BEFORE it ever makes eye contact with a literary agent or editor.

Do I need an literary agent?
There are many roads to publishing now. You can publish traditionally, and hope you get picked up with one of the major publishing houses. This will require having a literary agent first. This is the route I generally recommend.

Am I against self-publishing? Not at all. If you have a manuscript that you simply want to share with the world, by all means, self-publish it. Many traditionally published authors are self-publishing some of their work these days. There's NO SHAME IN IT.

How do I find a literary agent?
You'll need a tarp, some gloves, and several hundred popsicle sticks.

Just kidding. I found my agent through a website, (and what I consider to be a tremendously helpful online writing community) called  There you can search through hundred of literary agents, find the ones who represent the genre you're writing, and keep track of the ones you query. I attribute my success in finding an agent to this site.

How do I write a query letter?

That's a tough question, and one that varies greatly by writer. Your query letter is a brief summary or tease of your book that makes the agent want to read more. It should include the genre of your book, the word count (not page count), and whenever possible, should be personalized for the specific agent you're querying. Query letters are NOT an entire synopsis of the book. The goal of the query letter is to get the agent to request your book. Entice them. Lure them in. And flatter them, if you can. :)

The query itself should be no more than 300 words and it should start out answering basic questions the agent will have.

Here is an example of my query letter for Of Poseidon:

Dear Ms. Carson,

            I’m hoping to interest you in my YA Fantasy, Of Poseidon, complete at 82,000 words. A hybrid of mythology, fairytale, and hormones, Of Poseidon could be the modern, twice-removed cousin of The Little Mermaid:

Syrena prince Galen trades his fin for high school, hairy legs, and flip flops in order to help human girl Emma change into the fish he knows she is. Her Gift of Poseidon—the ability to talk to sea life—proves her descent. More importantly, it destines her to mate his older brother, the Triton king, to ensure the survival of the Gift for generations to come.
But Emma’s not so sure. She hates seafood. She doesn’t have the dark Syrena coloring—she’s Canadian-tourist white, for crying out loud. Sure, she can hold her breath for hours. But even if she can sprout a fin, what then? Does he expect her to give up everything she cares about—her mother, college scholarships, strawberry cheesecake—to go live in a sea shell off the Jersey sea shore? Nofreakingway. Especially since he’s too chicken-of-the-sea to kiss her…

But the almost-kisses affect Galen too. Not to mention her blushes melt him like a sandcastle in the rain. Still, keeping his loyalty to his kingdom means keeping his heart—and his hands—to himself. It also means keeping Emma’s fate a secret from her—for now. When his conscience becomes a whirlpool of affection and guilt, betrayal seems his only lifeline. The question is, who should he betray?

            And—what’s taking Emma so long to change into Syrena form, anyway?

Ms. Carson, please let me know if I may send you a sample of Of Poseidon. Thanks in advance for your consideration.



Anna Banks

(address and phone number)

Recommended Reading:

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglist

The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Flaws by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglist

Save the Cat by Blake Snyder

1 comment:

  1. What do you do if you love nothing more then writing but you can't even drive yet? Can you still get a publisher? Told must you be an adult?