This post was originally published in the December installment of my WITCHES & WONDERMENTS newsletter. To sign up for future newsletters, go here.


Like just about everything writing related, there is a lot of bad advice out there on the internets about how to utilize social media as a writer/author. I’ve made meaningful connections on Twitter and even found my agent on there, so it can be a powerful tool for your career. It can also be a powerful tool for making a complete fool of yourself.


Want to avoid making a huge mistake? Here are a few tips I’ve learned in my time on Twitter, I hope they’ll help you avoid being a butthead.

1. Follow, don’t stalk:

It’s painful to watch one person liking and replying to every last thing someone, who is clearly not their best friend, tweets. Twitter is made for interaction, yes, but there are also limits and boundaries. When you’re querying, it’s tempting to follow agents and try and decipher clues from their tweets about your MS (more on than later) but it’s also important to remember that A) You are not the only person querying them and B) hanging on an agents every word is not only not effective, it can get super annoying super fast.

Same goes for authors. I understand the impulse to tweet excitedly to and about your favs, but you should also be careful you’re not flooding their mentions everyday and becoming a nuisance.

Pay attention to how many times they interact with you. If you’re always tweeting someone and they never respond, scale it back. This could mean they’re busy and didn’t see your tweets or that they don’t want to respond to you, especially if you’ve tweeted them multiple times: take the hint and utilize your time and effort with someone who’s interested in interacting – but display the same respect for their boundaries as I mentioned before.

2. Don’t be Generic

This sounds meaner than it is, but what I’m really trying to say is unless you have something funny/meaningful/important to add to a conversation – you should probably stay out of it. When an agent tweets about yet another querying author being rude to them, you can be sure there will be at least five, “PEOPLE DO THAT?” comments from querying authors.

This comes off as desperate, because it is. We want to show agents WE would never do something like that, so we respond with manufactured shock, with a question that you already know the answer to. Yes people do it, that is why they are tweeting this. It sucks, but you don’t have to respond unless you have something that’s actually adding to the conversation. If your tweet is the same as ten other authors, you’re not adding anything but clutter.

This also applies to conversation on more sensitive topics like racism in publishing. I’ve seen authors who, likely trying to be good allies, reply about that one time an agent rejected them too because they wrote about an old woman and isn’t that just so ageist and when will our plight as women end? (yes I have seen this exact thing play out) in response to a black, brown or Asian writer expressing their frustration at the state of publishing. Not everything is about you, so it’s okay to like something and not respond or, even better, boost the voices of marginalized writers instead.

Lastly, there are the people who tweet things like “Just had coffee,” or “Just picked my kid up from school.” I am sure these are all thrilling events for you, but at least give us a gif, or something to make the tweet interesting. For example, “Just had coffee,” would be a lot more interesting if it read something like, “Just had coffee and I’m ready to tackle my day/revisions/not fall asleep at my desk.” Add a cute gif like this one:


And your tweet will be fun, easier to relate to and not…pointless. Think of your tweets as a line in your book, unless it’s moving the plot forward (contributing to the conversation in some way) then cut it. That doesn’t mean every tweet has to be some deep, meaningful thing, trust me I tweet ridiculous things all the time, but it does have to serve a purpose, otherwise why did you tweet that particular thought as opposed to the 5 billion others floating around in your brain. Filter it out for us so we see the good stuff 🙂

3. Find Friends Who are on Your Level

I know the writing community can seem cliquey at times (& yep sometimes it is) but there’s a logical reason for this: Writers often come up together. Meaning, writers who become friends before they have agents/are published can sometimes form little circles and stick together. Usually this isn’t for any of the stuck up or exclusionary reasons we might suspect, but more like when you’re in school and have a graduating class. It’s just something that happens naturally because going through the querying process and going on sub are stressful experiences that lead to lots of crying together and bonding.

So how do you “break in” to what seems like a super closed off circle of people chatting with one another? Make friends with authors who are on the same step as you. Interact with authors who are querying too, who are still revising, who are plotting out a new book because they had to shelve the old one. It can be a lot easier to relate to someone who is in the same place you are in your career, especially since the problems don’t end when you reach certain goals.

I’ve run into situations where some of my writer pals get angry at their more established friends for complaining about something like a slow submission process or issues with their cover. How can they complain about that when I don’t even have an agent! You might think. Or I’d be happy to just be published, they’re so ungrateful! But the truth is there are problems no matter where you are in the process and it’s hard to understand being frustrated over a badly timed cover reveal when you’ve been working on chapter seventeen for the past nine weeks. I get it. But remember that there will be pressures and problems in every phase of your publishing career. That doesn’t make those issues more established authors face better or worse, they’re just different.

This is not to say that you can’t make friends with established authors too, you totally can and you can learn a lot from them! But don’t think you have to be friends with JK Rowling to be part of the writing community. The community is what you make of it.

4. Don’t be Precious, Be humble

So, there is a big difference between interesting and special snowflake. Lots of new writers crash into the Twitter scene expecting to make an impact immedietly. They pitch agents at inappropriate times, tag people they don’t know on their blog posts over and over again, and have a general disregard for Twitter etiquette because they think rules don’t apply to them. They think they’re super special.

I know your mom probably told you you were special and she was likely right, but you’re also just one voice in a sea of voices that have already been talking for years before you arrived. Respect the space and read the room. Follow the example of other writers who are well regarded in the community, they usually have their own “brand” which really just amounts to their personality. Make sure your personality is not being misinterpreted as “annoying AF.”

This can apply to authors who have already achieved some level of success too. If you are constantly tweeting about how you got your agent and how, “YOU CAN DO IT TOO!” or how, “I’m so lucky!” your feed is gonna get real old, real fast. I can already guarantee you’re muted by at least twelve people. I’m probably one of them. It’s totally cool to help authors and tell your story, I do it all the time, but try not to come off as a humblebrag either. Publishing is a wild ride and that person you’re condescending to could lap you before you can say New York Times Bestseller.

5. Stop Thinking Everything is About You

I know it’s hard not to think things like:

“Omg this agent just followed me and I queried them last night that means they’re gonna sign me!”


“Omg this editor just liked my tweet about my dog and I am pretty sure this means they are going to buy my book!”


“Omg this agent just tweeted about a manuscript with a weak ending that they’re rejecting and I KNOW FOR A FACT IT’S ABOUT ME!”

I have done all of these things and more and trust me none of it leads anywhere good. You’re stressing yourself out for likely no good reason. The only news you should rely on as accurate, is the news you receive via your inbox. Don’t read into tweets, follows, likes or subtweets. Every time you feel the urge to, get off Twitter and go write for ten minutes, or take a walk. Seriously, it’s good training for the future because being on submission doesn’t make the temptation to read into things any easier.
6. Be Yourself. No, Really.

The big secret to success on social media really amounts to this generic piece of advice right here: be yourself. OH NO I BROKE MY OWN GENERIC RULE! Jk I made it funny with this sentence. It sounds simple because it is. Do you like video games? Tweet about them. Are you angry that they cast some ugly troll as one half of your OTP? Yell about it. Did you get a beautiful new lipstick that looks amazing on you? Snap a selfie and post it. Social media for authors isn’t about books and writing all the time, nobody wants to follow a book robot.

If you feel passionate about the things you’re tweeting, it will show. When someone treats Twitter like an awful task, that shows too. Have fun with your account, talk about the things you enjoy as well as writing and you’ll have a much easier time of building a platform.

7. Bonus Tip: Don’t tweet agents links to your book on Amazon.

When an agent tweets that they’re searching for a certain kind of book, they mean in their query inbox not an already self-published book. Responding to an agent with a link about how great your book is will not help you unless it’s already a run away bestseller and I’m guessing if you’re tweeting it at agents, it’s not. Similarly, you might want to hold off on tweeting at them about the book you plan on querying them with too. If they ask for something on twitter using the MSWL hashtag for example, mention that in your query but not on Twitter. It can work on very rare occasions but the truth is the only way to truly know if an agent wants your book is to query them.

I say this with love, stop being annoying and good luck!


Hello nerds! Today I have my fourth guest of the #Amquerying series, the amazing Texas-loving Katie Golding! For those of you who don’t know, querying is the process of procuring a literary agent and it can be equal parts soul crushing and fantastic. I started this series while I was smack in the middle of my querying journey and thought it would be great to share stories from already agent-ed authors with you all. You can follow Katie on Twitter here and read below to find out how she got her agent, her love of video games, her feelings on the possible vampire-revival in publishing and more!


How did you prepare for querying? Did you use query tracker or any similar tools?

Is there a way to prepare for querying other than clutching your beta tight and hoping for the best? I’m not sure, but other than that, I used and did a lot of blog scouring, a lot of revising, and a lot of twitter query critique contests.

How did you research the agents you queried? Any helpful websites you can share?

Really, I started by Googling “romance literary agents”. Yep, I’m pretty basic even on my best days. has database that I used extensively to find out who was open to submissions, and once I had a list, I looked closely at their personal websites to figure out their submission guidelines. Also, I have a great group of CPs who would recommend agents that were popping up on their radar, but may not have pinged on mine for whatever reason.

I hear you like to suffer and queried multiple books at once, can you tell me about that?

Well, first, DON’T DO THIS! It is a ridiculous thing and causes more problems than good! *laughs* But yes, I started to query one book, while finishing writing/revising another unrelated novel. By Christmas, my patience to keep the second book hidden in the drawer fully gave out, and I entered it in a twitter contest just to see what kind of response it would get and if anyone was interested. They were, and then everything got really, really complicated.

Apart from just keep track of who had what and how much of it, when I received an offer of rep on Book B, I had to contact agents that had fulls of Book A, and tell them I was getting offers on a novel they didn’t even know I had written! There were questions of what happens to Book A if I sign on Book B, which one I wanted to focus on more but OFFER OF REP and DREAM AGENT and just…chaos. All the chaos. In the end, it worked out for me because I wouldn’t have met my agent if I hadn’t taken the chance with putting the second novel in the twitterverse, but for anyone who wants to stay sane, I highly recommend querying/contest’ing only one book at a time.

You used to write Vampire Diaries fanfic & there have been rumors that people in publishing are trying to make vampires happen again. What are your feelings on this?  

I wrote a ton of The Vampire Diaries fanfic, like somewhere in the vicinity of nearly a million words, so you’d think I’d be sick to death of vampires by now. But really, if vamps are coming back in publishing, I don’t have a problem with it. The story can contain vampires, or space cowboys, or a king in ancient Persia and as long as there is a reason for a character to be that, and that it’s being used as a tool to explore the full range of themes instead of just flashing fang for the sake of it, I’m down. After all, what we’re really reading/writing about is love and the human condition, the tantalizing question of “What if I made all the wrong choices, and it brought me all the right things?” Vampires are just a very comfortable way for us to anchor those stories in a way that readers can relate to. Bring ‘em on.

What was the querying process like for you? Can you share stats? If not, can you tell us a timeline of how long it took for you to get your agent? How many bottles of wine did you drink, approximately?

Well, I could tell you, but my therapist has advised against me recollecting this dark and difficult time. No, that’s a lie. It really wasn’t too bad, though the process was—I would say—standardly long? It was long enough that I was ready to be done by the time it was over.

Stats: I queried my first novel starting in April of 2014, and it went out 41 times before it was shelved. My second novel went out June 2015, and it had 25 different hooks thrown in the water before I ended up retracting it. My third book I technically never queried. I twitter pitched it during #PitchMas (while still querying my second book like a geeeenyus), sent my queries and synopsis and pages to the agents who had made requests, and I officially signed that book with one of those agents the following April.

So it took me three books (plus the two I self-pubbed and pubbed through Kindle Scout in between), two years (almost to the day), multiple contests (#PitchSlam, #PitMad, #PitchMas, #WritePit, Write Club, plus more I’m probably forgetting), and god-only-knows how much wine and cheese and how many really big cheeseburgers I went through. Oh, and chocolate. Can’t forget the chocolate.

How did you feel during the process of querying? Anxious, cool? Dog-sitting-in-a-burning-room-meme-stressed?

Man, I was so cool, I was basically Matthew McConaughey and just walked around repeating, “Alright, alright, alright . . . ” You know, like we Texans do. Um, truthfully, I held it together as well as I expect anyone does. You have your good days, you have your days where you want to give up and question everything, and you have your days where you don’t even think about it because you’re too busy writing. Those are the ones you should strive for, because as fun as getting requests are, you’ll always be waiting on an email, no matter what stage of the game you’re in.

How did you cope with the emotions involved with querying? Did you keep busy doing anything else?

I have a great support team that keeps me working and laughing constantly. It’s a system I wouldn’t trade for anything. I’m also a fan of relieving stress via video games, anything from racing cars to puzzles to first person shooters works wonders for me when I’m not working on the next project. And there should always be a next project.

Anything unexpected about the querying process for you?

I think everything was unexpected, really. I think, now, I can say that I initially didn’t expect for it to take so long, yet I didn’t expect it to go by so fast either. I didn’t expect the community of other writers that I found in the process, or the bonds that we made. I certainly didn’t expect it to end with a tweet and not a query, and I didn’t expect that once I was out of the trenches, I would still be writing more query letters for myself, simply to help plot future books! It never ends!

If you could give querying authors one piece of advice what would it be?

Apart from finding a fountain of never-ending patience and living the rest of your life in it, just make sure you can be found. And what I mean is that more than just having your website pop up in an SEO, that you’re putting yourself out there every way that’s open to you. Instead of just querying and relying on someone sorting through the slush pile, participate in the writing community through contests and by promoting others, reading and leaving reviews, and even by simply talking to those who are talking about writing on social media. You never know when or where you could get “discovered.”

Did other writers come into play in terms of helping to manage stress/share good or bad news/revise your query or opening pages?

Only in the sense that without them, my heart, soul, and career would be the equivalent to applesauce right now. My beta/CP Michelle Hazen is my rock, and between spamming me lists of agents to query and mailing me cheer-up cheese post rejections, she talked to me about her own journey. We traded queries that worked, many that didn’t, and we bumbled our way through the process together. It also helped that while I’m quite introverted, she is not, and along the way, she made a lot of great contacts that I quickly stuck my face into, trying to keep her all to myself while also stealing her pre-readers for my own books. #Sorrynotsorry We share a lot of CPs and pre-readers for that reason. And she finds really good pre-readers.

Your call was literally a Christmas miracle; can you tell us about it? Also, were you wearing reindeer PJS?

Oh man, I so should’ve been wearing reindeer PJs! That would’ve been so great! Alas, I think I was wearing probably three pairs of pants and four sweaters because Texans hate winter. It’s a fact. But basically, a request from #PitchMas very quickly became a request to call me and talk. On Christmas Eve. My response was somewhere along the lines of: Yes, agent, yes I will talk to you on Christmas Eve and have all my dreams come true. Sign me up. So . . . Christmas Eve came. She called. We talked. I had galaxies of stars in my eyes when she said my writing was “addicting,” and my feet were still somewhere in the stratosphere even after hearing the words “revise” and “resubmit.” But once we hung up, I finished decorating my tree, and at approximately 12:01 am on December 26th, I went to work. Tore the book apart about a billion times over, and when I resubmitted it, I don’t think I breathed again until I heard back. The answer was yes, and we signed some really cool papers with a rather lovely couple of names on them. *wipes away happy tears*

Describe the querying process in 3 gifs




Tell us a little about your upcoming book/what’s next for you.

I’m starting a new project right now and I’m so excited for it! It’s an adult romance that gets behind the wheel of a rally car—with her in the driver’s seat, and him in the passenger. It’s going to be a little darker, and a lot sexier than what I usually write, and I can’t wait to see where the characters are going to take me. Outside of that, I recently started an interview series on my blog called Writers on the Rise. I’m speaking to writers who are currently in the process of querying, asking who they are, what they write, and how we can support them in their journey. The response has been even more positive than I could have hoped.

Anything else you’d like to share??

ONE BOOK AT A TIME, PEOPLE! LOL No really, just know that every one of you is undeniably awesome, and no one—no rejection—can change that. Oh, and eat tacos often. They help with just . . . everything.


About Katie


Katie Golding is sports fan with a writing problem. The former English major at Texas State University resides in Austin, Texas, ever trying to teach her son to throw a perfect football spiral while counting down the days to the next MotoGP race. With her husband taking on dinner duties in support of her writing time, she self-published two contemporary romance novels and can frequently be found blogging about tacos and typos. She is currently at work on both her golf swing and her next romance novel. RWA; represented by Shira Hoffman of McIntosh & Otis, Inc.

Follow her on Twitter @KatieGolding_TX


Website and Blog:

Querying, a Gif

If you’ve ever wanted to publish a book traditionally, then you know (or maybe you don’t) that getting an agent is an essential part of the process. There’s no formula for querying effectively, some of it is hard work, some is luck. But I think if you do everything you can to make sure the parts you CAN control are as good as they can be, it’ll go much better than just winging it or throwing queries out there without researching the process.

I’ve put together a video with all the tips I picked up along the way to signing with my own agents, and I hope it helps you! If you find the video helpful please like, and subscribe to my channel for more writing and book related videos 🙂


Dear (Agent name spelled correctly),

      Reeking of cigarettes and sneaking into her window after last night’s Smiths concert, Emerald Kipp watches as the sun dips backwards into the sky. The sixteen-year-old witch can’t decide if she’s still hung-over or if she really did reverse time. Coming from a lineage of Caribbean and South American witches, Emerald has always known she was magical, but after rewinding time like a VHS tape on her last day of high school, she discovers she’s also a Timeteller – a class of time-bending witches so powerful, they were hunted to near-extinction long ago.

     When Emerald’s only relative Aunt Nora vanishes, Emerald must venture into the dangerous Magick World, tucked within the NYC alleyways and subway tunnels to save her. Her only clue into her aunt’s disappearance comes from a message from the past—find The Timekeeper, solve the riddle.

     Despite the watercolor sky and talking neon signs, the NYC Magick world is a treacherous one, and skinstitchers , a class of witches who kill and absorb the power of other witches, soon make Emerald their target. With power hungry skinstitchers  hunting her, Emerald must rely on an underground network of Magicks to help her on her journey. Solving the riddle requires not only trusting her new friends, but overcoming her crippling anxiety enough to trust herself.

   As the mystery of the riddle begins to unravel, Emerald learns that more than Aunt Nora’s life is at stake if she can’t beat it. Armed with a book of magic, her still-broken Walkman, and her trusty lock pick set, Emerald sets out to solve the riddle before time runs out–and she, along with everyone she knows, is erased from history. This might be a little harder than Saturday detention.

RIDDLE OF THE TIMEKEEPER is a 99,000-word YA Urban Fantasy set in 1980’s New York City. It combines THE CRAFT with SHADOWSHAPER and  is a standalone novel with strong series potential. I am querying you because (brief explanation). Below please find my first twenty pages and a brief synopsis.

     I work as a marketing director and social media manager at The Combined Book Exhibit, which displays books at library and trade shows such as The Frankfurt Book Fair, worldwide. I am also a graduate of the SUNY Purchase Journalism program and a former reporter in Westchester County, NY.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Hello nerds! Today I have my third guest of the #Amquerying series, the very ass-kicky Michelle Hazen! For those of you who don’t know, querying is the process of procuring a literary agent and it can be equal parts soul crushing and fantastic. I am smack in the middle of my querying journey and thought it would be great to share stories from already agent-ed authors with you all. Michelle will be an adult/new adult mentor in this year’s PITCH WARS so look out for her if you’re hoping to enter! You can follow Michelle on Twitter here and read below to find out how she got her agent, the deal with her science-tortoises and more!

How did you prepare for querying? Did you use query tracker or any similar tools?

For the first book I queried, my only resource was an outdated Writer’s Market that I got from the library. For the second book I queried, I researched more widely on the internet at large. For the third book I queried, I joined Twitter, and suddenly the world exploded into a fountain of publishing information and contests, and I learned REALLY fast how many things I was doing wrong.

Writers? I hate social media, too. I’ve spent most of my adult life in the internet-less wilderness and most people’s great-grandparents got a smartphone before I did. But if you want to be an author, repeat after me…Just. Join. Twitter.

Was the book you got your agent for the first book you wrote/queried?

Nope. I wrote 13 and queried 3 before I landed an agent.

I know you have a background in fan fic writing, can you tell me about that? Did it affect your querying process at all or help you stand out to agents?

Fanfiction helped me learn to write, and it gave me a chance to connect with readers and know how heart-swellingly awesome that could be, which helped me through the heartbreak of the querying process. However, I’m an odd fanfic writer in that Amazon Kindle Worlds gave me an opportunity to legally publish my fanfic and share my royalties with the copyright holder. So I had some publishing credits, sales numbers, and marketing experience in my back pocket before I started shopping my original fiction around.

What was the process like for you? Can you share stats? If not, can you tell us a timeline of how long it took for you to get your agent?

I queried my first book in 2005, to somewhat less than trumpeting fanfare because I was making a lot of noob mistakes I didn’t realize were mistakes. I queried Book 2 for several months in 2014, and I meant to write its sequel but instead I guiltily wrote this other book that was jockeying for my attention. I hadn’t exhausted my options for Book 2 yet, but I was SO excited about Book 3, so I started querying it and entering it in contests. Right away, it got more requests than I was used to, and I had my offer in hand within 6 weeks of sending my first query.


How did you balance querying with your other activities? I know you climb rocks and work with large tortoises for science.

Small tortoises, actually. For science. LOL! I have a load of hobbies, and I’ve never gotten super good at any of them because I have so many…and then writing came along and ate my life. It’s even harder to keep up with all my other interests now because I devote an incredible amount of time to writing. But I find that one of the kindest things I can do for myself during either the querying process or the being on submission to publishers process is to GET AWAY FROM THE INTERNET.

I just got back from a week long, girls-only rock climbing trip, and seriously, it is so wonderful to not be thinking about if you have writing news or if you don’t have news, and why you don’t have news, and if you don’t have news because maybe you’re a terrible fraud and a hack and should maybe drown yourself in Cheez Whiz and White Out. Plus, if you go to the wilderness, not only do you get away from the refresh button (irony), but you remember that you have a whole life and a lot of talents that aren’t at all connected to writing. So maybe when you get that next rejection letter, you’ll remember there are parts of you the publishing industry is not even ALLOWED to pass judgment on. That can feel really good—almost like being a stable, well-balanced person. Almost.

How did you feel during the process of querying? Anxious, stressed, cool?

Oh, super cool. I was fine, thanks, totally expected rejection, was super zen, practically spouting green tea from my ears and thoughtfully pruning bonsai trees with machetes to pass the time. Ha freaking ha.

No, honestly through most of the querying process, I was teeth bared, JUST TRY AND STOP ME I WILL WRITE BOOKS UNTIL YOU ARE BURIED IN BOOKS AND THE WORLD RUNS OUT OF PAPER FOR YOU TO WRITE REJECTION LETTERS ON. My life story is a long list of pulling off crazy, unlikely shit because I was too stupid to give up. Writing is sort of perfect for me.

How did you cope with the emotions involved with querying? Did you keep busy doing anything else?

Yes. See Number 5: Backing Away From the Internet.

Anything unexpected about the querying process for you?

I didn’t expect it to end so soon! LOL. Honestly, there are so many blow-your-mind talented authors in the querying trenches, some of whom I’ve seen get agents lately and some of whom are still looking, and I sort of expected to be the one who had to query 20 books over a period of 35 years while selling baskets on eBay woven of my graying hair and lined with the tear-moistened paper of rejection letters.

But I suppose in another way, the querying process is never over. You have to land a book deal for each book you write, even after you get an agent, so the process continues: you just happen to have the support of a seasoned industry professional who deeply and truly believes in you. Which, I’m not going to lie, is awesome.

If you could give querying authors one piece of advice what would it be?

RESEARCH! I mean, as an ex-counselor, maybe I should be giving you some emotional management tips, but really, you wouldn’t need nearly as many of those if you would RESEARCH. If you’ve never had anyone read and give you feedback on your work, stop querying right now. If you haven’t done dozens of hours of research on querying and what agents are looking for and what the most common errors in querying are…stop querying right now and start researching. I’ve seen too many really promising books burn all their agent chances because they were making some small, fixable errors. Don’t do this.

The piece of advice I usually give querying authors is this website:

Did other writers come into play in terms of helping to manage stress/share good or bad news/revise your query or opening pages?

When I was writing fanfiction, I found a really talented author and basically bullied her into being my critique partner. She’s helped me with every line I’ve written and every day I have dragged myself through ever since. I hit the jackpot with her, and then spent YEARS testing out other CPs and beta readers. I now have a great group of beta readers and two flat-out amazing CPs who are a huge support to me in my writing and personal life. Those girls are funny, sweet, crazy talented, and they know when to kick my ass and when to send me Texas coffee or tree air fresheners.

I think you really need writing friends, because the world at large doesn’t understand the agonies and ecstasies of the publishing industry, and you need people who GET what you’re going through. Plus, their good news is just as exciting to me as my good news, so really it’s like you multiply the amount of good news you get, and that’s badass.

When did you get the call? Can you describe that day or moment for us?

I was in New Orleans, eating bbq while a construction crew jackhammered the sidewalk next to us. When I saw the email from my future agent wanting to schedule a call, I froze. I wasn’t sure if I couldn’t think because of the freaking jackhammer, or maybe because my entire life had changed.

Describe the querying process in 3 gifs.


WRiter headdesk


Writer sobbing under desk


Seinfeld happy dance

Tell us a little about your upcoming book/what’s next for you.

Right now, my agent is shopping around a NA rocker romance series, I’ve just written a Thing that no one can pin a genre on that shows an interracial couple’s journey through trauma and love mirrored in the city of New Orleans. And I’m about to start a romantic suspense series about female Spec Ops soldiers. Can’t wait for that one!


About Michelle


Michelle Hazen is a nomad with a writing problem.

Years ago, she and her husband ducked out of the 9 to 5 world and moved into their truck. She found her voice with the support of the online fanfiction community, and once she started typing, she never looked back. She wrote most of her books in odd places, including a bus in Thailand, an off-the-grid cabin in the Sawtooth Mountains, a golf cart in a sandstorm, a rental car during a heat wave in the Mohave Desert and a beach in Honduras. Even when she’s climbing rocks, riding horses, or getting lost someplace wild and beautiful, there are stories spooling out inside her head, until she finally heeds their call and returns to her laptop and solar panels.

Michelle was awarded first place in the 2015 NTRWA Great Expectations Contest, New Adult genre. Her work is represented by Naomi Davis of Inklings Literary. Michelle is the Amazon bestselling author of Kindle Worlds titles: the Desperate Love Trilogy, the In Time We Trust Trilogy, Happily Ever After: Salvatore Style, and Sanguine Veritas. Find her on Facebook or Goodreads as Michelle Hazen, or follow her on Twitter @michellehazen.

Official site:





Hello RadDom readers! Today I have my second guest of the #Amquerying series, Pitch Wars 2015 mentee Michael Mammay! For those of you who don’t know, querying is the process of procuring a literary agent and it can be equal parts soul crushing and fantastic. I am smack in the middle of my querying journey and thought it would be great to share stories from already agent-ed authors with you all. You can follow Michael on Twitter here and read below to find out how he got his agent, his advice for writers and more!


How did you prepare for querying?

I am a total data nerd, so I had a process. I got a list of all of the agents who represent adult SF from querytracker, then I put them in a spreadsheet, then I looked each agent up in Publisher’s Marketplace to see what books they’d sold, especially SF books that they sold, and to what publishers. From there I ranked them into three groups – top, second-round, and for consideration. I also ranked agents inside the same agency in order, so I could query the best fit first. After that I looked at things like MSWL, and adjusted my list based off of agents who appeared to want what I wrote (for example, my book is military sci-fi, so any agent specifically looking for that moved up on my list.)

Was the book you got your agent for the first book you wrote/queried?

No, it was my second. My first book is a fantasy that you will never see. In fact, I’m not 100% sure it even exists. Scholars have long wondered, but there is no evidence to prove it.

What was the process like for you? Can you share stats? Can you share the timeline?

My process wasn’t too typical. My book got into Pitchwars, where Dan Koboldt was my mentor (He wrote THE ROGUE RETRIEVAL ) But I didn’t get my agent via the contest, so I queried immediately after that.

I queried 32 agents.
I got 5 requests
4 of those requests got upgraded to fulls
I got 2 offers.

I started querying on the 5th of November and signed with my agent on the 2nd of March. So right about 4 months. In the end I got offers from two agents who were in my initial top 5 – so quality, not quantity for me. I signed with Lisa Rodgers of JABberwocky Literary, and I couldn’t be happier.

How did you feel during the process of querying? Anxious, stressed, cool?

Definitely something other than cool. It kind of varied from day to day, where some days I was anxious about it, some days I was a little better. So what I tried to do was on the days where I felt good, send a bunch of queries. That way they were out there, and I could just wait. And then high and low. I got a lot of rejections early, and started to wonder if maybe this wasn’t the one. My requests came mostly later in the process, and as they came I started to have a bit more hope.

How did you cope with the emotions involved with querying? Did you keep busy doing anything else?

I wrote. And I did a lot of critiques for other people. Those are the two things that I think make you a better writer – writing and reading what others write. And I was starting to move on to the next thing, in case this one hadn’t worked out, so I just wanted to get better. Plus those are just two things I love to do.

Anything unexpected about the querying process for you?

How fast it went at the end. I went more than 3 months where things were very slow. Then all hell broke loose. The first agent to offer requested a partial, then requested a full the same day, then emailed to set up a call like 2 days later. So I went from pretty much nothing to GAAAAHHH in about 72 hours. I then set a deadline for other agents to respond, and the second agent asked for a full and got back to me the next day to set up a call. It was a crazy week.

If you could give querying authors one piece of advice, what would it be?

I have two. Can I do two? I’m doing two.

  1. Take your time. I’ve known literally hundreds of authors who have queried. Many, many of them will tell you ‘I queried too early’ (including me with my first book.) I’ve never once heard anyone say ‘I queried too late.’ You want to query agents with the best possible book you can write. Get critiques, then revise, then get more critiques. Find critique partners who hurt your feelings. Too many people, when they send stuff for critique, want someone to tell them how good it is. NO! You want someone to tell you what’s wrong, so you can make it better. You get one chance with an agent…make it the best chance. (For more on critiques, read this awesome post from MK England )
  2. Find your people. All that stuff up above about CPs and Beta Readers? You can’t just do that overnight. You have to get out there and meet people, swap chapters, figure out who you work well with. Not every reader is going to work out for you, so you’ve got to keep at it. And when you find good ones, do everything in the world to keep them. It takes time, but eventually you’ll have folks. When I re-wrote my first chapter after I got into Pitchwars, I contacted four people and was like…hey…can you read this for me…and oh, by the way…I kind of need it today. They all did it. Of course they did. They’re my people.

Did other writers come into play in terms of helping to manage stress/share good or bad news/revise your query or opening pages?

Oh, hell yes. So many. First off, my brother Steve reads everything I write before anyone else gets to see it. He’s not a writer, but I know he’ll tell me the truth if it sucks. This isn’t a critique – it’s just a little mental thing for me – and he always has one or two great ideas that I incorporate. After that I had about 8 or 9 readers on this project in three or four different rounds. I have three CPs who I’ve been with since I started getting serious about writing: Red Levine, Becka Enzor, and Colleen Halverson (Her book is awesome ). And along with them I had other great readers like David Kristoph, Jess Bloczynski, and Tahani Nelson, and of course Dan Koboldt made more notes during Pitchwars. Overall I did 4 revisions, plus a 5th revision on the third act. And then while I was querying I had the group with all the Pitchwars mentees, which has been invaluable for support. Probably the coolest thing about my query experience was that Becka and I got offers at the same time, so I got to share the entire offer/call thing with a long time CP who was going through it at exactly the same time.

When did you get the call? Can you describe that day or moment for us?

Lisa emailed me to set up the call, which I set for after work. She discussed the revisions she saw for my book, which were so good that I kept interrupting her because I was excited about incorporating them. And she told me about the agency and all the awesome things about it (seriously…go look at the client list…it’s incredible.) What most impressed me is how much of a team they seem to be. Other agents read my book as well as Lisa, and one offered additional brilliant notes, one of which solved a problem I’d been trying to fix since my rough draft. It just felt like they were all on board and behind my project, and I knew that’s where I needed to be.

Describe the querying process in 3 GIFS.

Sending my first queries

Sending queries



Getting the email




Authors, want to be featured in the #Amquerying series?

Email me at!


Literary Agent Michael Bourret – This Creative Life ep 40    

                                                                                                                                                                     The Narrative Breakdown Literary Agents Episode with Brianne Johnson:

Why You Need A Literary Agent with Carly Watters & Crystal-Lee Quibell:

The Dead Robots’ Society – Joining The Tribe With Literary Agent Cari Foulk:

The Grim Tidiings Podcast – Talking Literary Agents with Mark Gottlieb:

Write The Book Interview with Literary Agent Emily Forland:

Fiction School Interview with Adriann Ranta*:               

The Missouri Review Soundbooth Interview with Literary Agent Stacia Decker:

Adventures in Scifi Publishing Interview with Barry Goldblatt, Literary Agent:

Blog Talk Radio, Literary Agent Sara Megibow:                       

Ask The Industry Podcast, Jessie Botterill – Literary agent at Janklow & Nesbit:


Episode #011 Querying and industry tips and insights w/Literary Agent, Cassie Hanjian:

Shipping & Handling Podcast: Two literary agents talk books, fandom, writing, and beyond, with agents Bridget Smith of Dunham Literary Inc. & Jennifer Udden of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.                          

Bonus Podcast:

PubTalkTV Podcast –


* Please note, Adriann Ranta is now with Foundry Media.

Have an episode you’d like me to add? Please let me know on Twitter! @Claribel_Ortega


Last December, I began querying my novel RIDDLE OF THE TIMEKEEPER. Overall, it’s been a great ride for me so far, but that doesn’t change the fact that querying is a soul-crushing-I-might-just-eat-forty-dollars-worth-of-McDonald’s-experience. If there’s one thing that’s helped me, it’s been the writers who I’ve befriended, and have taken me under their wing. Some have been querying longer than me, some have agents already, and some are on the same struggle bus as I am, but are so funny, they make me forget how nervous I am.

There is so much that goes into querying successfully, but once your book is out there, all you can really do is wait. Having someone, or a team of someones, on your side to calm you down or make you laugh after a bad day is not only a good idea, it’s the fucking key.

major key

Here are a few things I’ve learned from my writing fairy godparents. I hope it helps you not punch yourself in the face, too.


Make a list of all the good things anyone has ever said about your writing.


This is important for the days you feel like your writing is a giant dumpster fire. Have a list of all the praise you’ve gotten for your words, even if it’s from your mom. Doesn’t matter. Reading kind words, when everything inside you is telling you, you suck, can turn your day around. Or it might not. But it’s better than staring at a rejection, or sitting alone with destructive thoughts all day. It’s so much easier to believe the bad things about your writing are true, than the good things. So hammer it into your brain if you need to, but realize every book has flaws, and every book has good parts too. Including yours.

Everybody gets lots of rejections, but nobody talks about it.

djkhaledanotheroneI can’t count the number of “how I got my agent stories” I’ve read in these past few months. Most share getting a few rejections, and some even share stats, but many jump to the success part of their querying journey without too many details. It’s easy to believe that once you start getting rejections, something is seriously the matter, especially when it’s on full or partial requests. The truth is though, everyone gets more no’s than yes’s. Everyone gets rejections (for the most part, there are some lucky weirdos out there) and you and your book are probably no exception. If you’re getting requests, take heart and be patient. If you’re not, revise that query letter and keep trying. But don’t think that one, two, or three no’s equal failure. It’s just not true.


Keep your expectations grounded, but celebrate the little victories.


I’ve always believed the idea that, “this is the book that’s going to get me my agent!” is  flawed. There is just no way to actually know that. No matter how much work you’ve put in, there are many factors that go into getting signed, including the current market, how well your idea is executed, who you’re querying, etc. etc. One of the most important parts of querying for me, has been keeping my chin up, not getting discouraged when the self-doubt starts to creep in. Part of this is keeping my expectations in check. Yeah, I might get an agent call in ten minutes, but I also might not. There is a chance of each happening, and according to stats, and life, not getting one is more likely. That’s not being negative, just realistic. So while I am optimistic, I’m doing so with caution. Not expecting anything, but hoping for the best. When I do get good news, I let myself celebrate, I let myself be happy about it without raining on my own parade. It’s okay to be stoked about good news, because I’m pretty sure you’re crying when you get bad news.

Go offline.


Some days, I’m just not in the mood for news. Good news I’ll take any time, but if it’s bad, sometimes I need a break. During those instances, I shut my notifications off on my phone and just put it away. There’s nothing wrong with stepping away for a while, especially for your own mental health. Those emails will be there tomorrow, when you’re in a better frame of mind to handle them. It’s okay not to read an email the moment it comes in, and constantly checking your inbox is only going to make you lose your marbles. Being on Twitter too much can be equally damaging. Following agents, checking everything they Tweet and wondering if they’re talking about your MS can make you go from calm and relaxed to 2007 Brittany in a minute. Have fun with it, interact with the writing community, Tweet funny gifs, but no need to complain about querying or how many rejections you’ve gotten. When you’re feeling that shitty, get offline or head on over to the place where all the juicy  gossip happens, Google hangouts, and vent to your friends. But take a break from social media till you get your emotions in check, otherwise you’ll play yourself.



Drink some whiskey, laugh, and play Just Dance. 


This ties into getting offline for a while. Remember to practice self-care when querying, especially if like me, you suffer from anxiety. Exercising, playing a video game, taking a long bubble bath – are all things that can help. And while I’m not advocating you drink yourself into a stupor, go ahead and go out with some friends and have some wine, or if you don’t drink have a chocolate milk, man. Whatever you like doing, do it. As long as you’re enjoying yourself and keeping your mind off that inbox. These kinds of breaks can really help with keeping you happy and with not going over the deep end and making a boo-boo (like flipping out on Twitter, which I have seen a lot and #yikes.) Try your best to enjoy this hopeful, crazy, nerve-wracking time in your life. And if you can, do it with friends.

If you need a new writing friend, follow me on Twitter! @Claribel_Ortega


  1. Work on something else


Everyone says this one, because it’s true. Once you start working on a new idea, a new plot, new characters — the queries you have out won’t seem as urgent. That’s because you’re not betting it all on one book. You have something else to work on and query if your other MS doesn’t end up getting you an agent. And if you used CPs, Beta readers and edited the Bejesus out of your WIP like I did, chances are the next book you write is going to be a much better one anyway.

 2. Use Query Tracker in Moderation


Query Tracker is a great tool for…keeping…track of your queries. Duh. It can also drive you insane, if you let it. Make sure you’re not becoming hypnotized by those little purple offer of representation faces, discouraged by the red faces of rejection or obsessed with the green ones that equal requests. I’ve also seen many people lose hope for agents based on their response times and close them out when not much time has passed. Just remember not everyone is on QT, and not everyone logs every single query and response they get. That means the data you’re working with is not 100% accurate, so try not to make assumptions based off of it. No news is no news, unless it’s been months and months with no word (and even then sometimes good stuff happens), anything is possible. Sure you can keep track of where your agent is on their timeline, and see if it looks like they might be getting closer to you, but you won’t really know anything until you get a response (hellooo not everyone uses QT.)


3. Let it go


You can only check your email so many times before you have to accept there’s literally nothing you can do about the queries you have out right now.  Refreshing every seven seconds won’t make that response come any quicker, live your life and take care of yourself. Obsessing over how long it’s taking will make it seem like a lot longer of a wait than it actually is. There are, I’ve noticed, a large amount of writers who insist on nudging all the time/way to early/the moment they have had enough of waiting. I would say to err on the side of caution with this one. Though it’s true some agents appreciate a gentle nudge, and even ask writers to do so sometimes,  it can get tricky-especially if they already requested pages. The rules for  query wait time versus a partial, or full can change from agent to agent. Don’t sit there counting down the seconds till the agent said it’s okay to nudge on their website. Be patient.

4. Don’t overshare on Twitter


Maybe this is just me, but I think it’s sort of weird when writers share every rejection, full request etc. on Twitter. For one, it’s not a great idea to let agents know you’re being rejected. Sure, they might assume it’s happening but let them think everyone loves your work. Don’t list the ten rejections you got this morning or talk about how stupid/blind/cruel the agent is for rejecting you. Similarly, announcing fulls, page requests and every last thing that goes on when you query might be somewhat of a turn off for agents. Will you be able to keep your cool & be discreet when your book is out on submission with editors? Will you complain about a rejection from a big publishing house, publicly? If you’re doing it during the query process, it could lead agents to believe you’d do it on submission. It’s better to celebrate/vent about the process in a smaller group, on Gchat (where all the juicy stuff goes down) or you know, not where everyone can watch your every move.

5. Have a support group


Having writer friends who get what it’s like to be rejected, is so crucial. You could try to tell your normal, non-writer/non-weirdo friends about the process, but by the time you explain what a “full” is you’re going to regret it so hard (probably.) And even if they get the technicalities, they will never understand what it actually feels like to write a book, to work so hard on something and watch people reject it over and over and over again. And to keep sending it out anyway. Get a group of writing friends, start or join a FB group or email chain, exchange numbers with your CP (sup Anna send me some emojis, girl)  and text them updates. Trust me, it helps.

6. Keep busy with stuff other than writing


Exercise, play some video games, go to the movies, do something fun that’s not about your book, or querying. Read, knit your grandmother a scarf, teach your dog to dance and go on X Factor. Go outside for once, you hermit. Don’t be a writing robot. It’s boring for you and for the rest of the world that has to put up with you. If you’re doing other, fun stuff you’re less likely to be driving yourself mad thinking of that dream agent you’re waiting for a response from.

7. Know it’s a long process for almost everyone


Anybody who’s worth anything as a writer starts by sitting down and working hard on something. They’re passionate about writing, and pour everything they have into those pages. The thought of being published might set your heart on fire, but that makes you no different than 99.9 percent of us. The process is going to be hard. Period. At some point it will be a challenge, and this is true for anyone you speak to. Get used to the idea that it will be many, many months before you get any positive response from agents. Then, even if it’s not that long of a wait, you will be pleasantly surprised. But do not expect to send out a batch of queries, or send out five or six, and have an offer of rep in hand by next week. That’s just not how it works for most of us, so it’s best to be prepared for the long haul. Don’t put negative energy into the universe and say I WILL NEVER GET AN AGENT, either but be cautiously optimistic.


8. Be mentally prepared to revise


I have an agent friend who gave me some advice once. She said, if they’re rejecting without asking for pages, it’s your query. But if they’re asking for pages and rejecting after that, it’s your pages. Be ready to receive feedback from agents, and to tool around with your MS should you get a number of people pointing out the same thing. Or maybe you’re just not getting any response from your query and you need to rework it and run it past some new readers. Whatever it is, beginning the querying process doesn’t  mean you won’t be editing again (because even after you get an agent you’ll be editing, honey.) Mentally prepare yourself to hear, “this needs work,” and have a game plan in mind for getting that work done.


9. Participate in contests


Not only can you get agent requests during contests like #Pitmad and #SFFPIT but you can also make friends by seeing who is participating and adding them to a writing friends list on Twitter. For contests like Pitch Wars, you can get feedback from fellow authors and the camaraderie is fantastic. I found a buttload of friends + my CP through Pitch Wars last year and because of them my book is seven trillion times better than before I entered. These contests are also a lot of fun. Here is a list of the upcoming 2016 pitch events.


10. Go to conferences


Going to conferences can be such a moral boost. You get to meet other writers in person, sometimes pitch to agents, and hear industry professionals give helpful and encouraging advice. Plus, you’ll be so busy trying to eat your ham sandwich before “Pitching a Picture Book” in hall three, you won’t even remember to refresh your email app. It’s a great way to practice pitching in person as well, and many an offer of rep has come from authors meeting agents at conferences. It’s a great way to make the querying experience a positive one, instead of just being stressful.


A special thank you to my boo Andrea Contos for helping me with some suggestions for this post, go follow her on Twitter!



For those of you looking for a literary agent, today is #SffPit on Twitter! Don’t know what that is? Like #Pitmad you can pitch your completed,polished MS on Twitter in hopes of getting the attention of an agent. Unlike Pitmad it’s only for SF or Fantasy authors! There are new rules this year, so please make sure to check them out before participating. Here are some graphics I made as a friendly reminder:



For more info please visit !

Friends asking me when the book will be done.

It’s been close to three years *cries* since I began writing ROTK, and it looks like the end is near. I’ve said this before…so many times I’ve thought “I AM DONE” only to realize I was a filthy liar and not really done.


But this time I am closer than I ever have been before, and with all the new things I’ve picked up after my pitch wars experience, I am setting a March 2016 deadline (flexible because you know how I feel about hard imaginary deadlines) to begin querying.

Me to made up deadlines
Me to made up deadlines

That gives me about six months to polish my MS for the fifth and hopefully final time before sending it out to agents. I am really excited, because despite my false starts, this time I realize just how far off I really was from being query ready, and now I know what my MS needs to get there or at least, pretty darn close. Here are a few things I recommend for making sure your own MS is ready for agent eyes:

  1. At least two edits after your first draft – I know it’s pretty easy to believe that all you have to do is write the book and send it off, or give it a once over for grammar etc but unless you’re a seasoned writer (and honestly even if you are) your book is probably not even close to ready after  the first draft. It’s probably a big pile of crap with potential. So you most likely need at least two (or three more realistically) edits before you get it into better shape.
  2. Take a Closer Look at your Plot: Using the note card feature on Scrivener is a great tool to make sure each of your chapters are necessary and help move the plot forward. If you don’t have Scrivener, using a word document or real note cards works just as well. This technique is also great for getting your pacing sorted (or if your word count is too high/low and you need to find places to cut or beef up your MS)
  3. CP Help : Having critique partners is a great way to catch small mistakes, plot inconsistencies and weak points in your book. Running your MS through one or two CP’s before moving on to the next step is a great way to find out of if your MS is ready or close to it.
  4. Beta readers: Once you’ve self edited and gotten feedback from your CP’s, get a good group (three is a good number) of readers to give you their impressions on the book overall. Beta readers usually help more with big picture stuff, but I’ve had my beta’s point out more specific issues here and there as well.
  5. One more read through! – Just in case yo.

If you haven’t done this, at a minimum, you’re probably not ready to query. I would say most writers don’t go through all this fuss for their books, which makes sense considering the high amount of agent rejections/people who are new and still learning when they query. Querying too soon is one of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen among writers, take your time and make sure your MS is as tight as possible before sending it out. Don’t take the “Let me just see what happens” approach when you know you haven’t done as much as you should. I can tell you right now, “what happens” will probably be you not getting an agent. Sorry if that seems harsh but it’s better to consider these things NOW and not after you’ve queried.


I will be going to the Frankfurt Book Fair this month, and trying to work on the book whilst there though I probably won’t get much done with the crazy schedule. I’ll be blogging helpful stuff for authors from there/posting pictures on my Instagram so follow me if you’d like to see my face + beer and German food. I’ll blog another book update closer to the half way mark, so be on the look out for a Christmas time ROTK update. Thanks for reading!


You just spent weeks, months, years writing and revising your book. You have poured every bit of time you could spare, spent restless nights and coffee riddled mornings clanking away on your keyboard. You have finished that fucking novel. Finally.


So it’s normal to think that now, it’s time for people to read your genius, to throw a parade for you and your book and also give you a movie deal. It’s time to fire up your Gmail and query the hell out of your novel, because that was the whole point, and you have to do it NOW because you’ve done everything you were supposed to do, & patience be damned. You’ve waited long enough. Your work will speak for itself, right?


Well, not really.


I hate to break it to you but you’re not the only writer who has worked hard on their manuscript. Sure there are hundreds (thousands?) of us who have just sort of thrown something together and are hoping for the best, but a lot of writers work HARD on their books. The thing is, hard work does not put you above the fray or mean anyone owes you anything. Working hard on your book is uh sort of expected.


Where I’ve noted a lot of writers falter is what comes after you’ve finished that first draft, or even the fourth. There is so much more that goes into making a book not just not terrible, but truly great.

  1. Revise, rewrite, and rewrite some more


Never, and I mean NEVER send a first draft out to agents. Unless you’re Stephen King (which you are not because he doesn’t read this blog) you don’t have it like that, not yet. You need to edit, you need to rewrite. THIS is when the hard work begins, where the good writing comes out of what’s probably just an OK first draft. I finished the first draft of my manuscript in September of last year (2014), and had I sent it out as it was, had I sent the SECOND draft out (or even the third) I would’ve been hard pressed to find an agent who would take me on. The writing just wasn’t there yet. I needed to flesh scenes out, re-read chapters and make my character arcs work better. There was just so much to improve on that had I not let myself step away from my manuscript to let it breath, then jump back in and begin revisions I would’ve been doing my story, and all my work up to that point, an injustice.

2. Beta Readers


Once you’re past the revision stage, and you feel your book has been edited and worked over enough for readers, it’s time to send to your CP (critique partners) or beta readers. Listen, you wrote this damn thing so of course you think it’s good. IT’S YOUR BOOK FFS. You need outside perspective, you need someone who’s going to tell you what works and what doesn’t. As my good friend and beta reader Megan from Extra Ink Edits pointed out, three is a good number for beta readers.


If you have a friend who likes to read, and also happens to be that one friend who is brutally honest, pick them. If you write YA like I do, and have a sixteen year old niece/nephew that is willing to read your book, pick them. Pick people who represent your audience, people who will be as impartial as possible, people who will encourage you, and above all people who will help make your book better. You don’t have to take all the advice they give you, but if all of your betas point out the same things it’s probably worth looking into. You also have to be honest with yourself during this process. Really look over your novel, is it the best it can be or are you glossing over obvious problems because it’s too much work or seems scary to fix them? When you’re not honest about the state of your own work, the only person you’re fooling is yourself.

3. Researching The Business of Writing


One literary agent I follow on Twitter mentioned on her blog that about eighty percent of the writers in her inbox didn’t follow submission guidelines and therefore eliminate themselves from the running automatically. That’s a high number, and chances are if you’re not taking the time to research the business of writing, your part of that group. What do I mean by the business of writing? I mean anything related to what happens after you’ve truly (see above) finished your book. The querying, submission and publication process. According to a a blog post on Writers Relief, several industry professionals mentioned not following submission guidelines being amongst the worst mistakes a writer can make. Here are a few quotes from that blog post:

Diverse Voices Quarterly: “This may seem like a no-brainer, but not following submission guidelines is the worst thing.”

Inkwell: “The worst thing a writer can do when making a submission is to disregard the submission guidelines. We receive submissions from too many writers who state they don’t have computers so please excuse their out-of-date submission or forgive them for handwriting the entire manuscript, they simply didn’t know what to do because they can’t visit our website—or worse, say nothing at all. Not adhering to the guidelines torpedoes a submission.”

Philadelphia Stories: “The very worst thing an author can do when submitting work for publication is to ignore the submission guidelines. It’s really that simple.

Softblow Poetry Journal: “The worst things: submitting without reading the instructions given by the editors or the guidelines set down by the journal…”

Notice a pattern? Every place you submit to has different guidelines, and thinking you are the exception to the rule when it comes to these guidelines will only get you swiftly rejected.


Another reason to research the querying process is to see the etiquette involved. The uninformed writer might think it’s perfectly fine to call an agent the day after querying them (or at all), to stop by their office, to email them a week later and nudge on your submission. But if you’ve taken the time to research, to follow agents on Twitter perhaps or read blog posts about their likes/dislikes when it comes to the querying process, you’ll know all these things are a big fat oh-no-no.


I get it that you’re excited, and that it sucks to wait, but usually you only get one chance to query an agent and if you ruin that chance, you’re most likely f’d for life when it comes to them. Not to mention:


It’s not worth it! Just be patient, take a deep breath and start reading about the process, work on your writing, talk to a fellow writer, expend that nervous energy elsewhere, but not in getting on an agent’s nerves.


Another thing to take into account is some agents like when you personalize their query by saying why you choose to send them your work. If you don’t research them you won’t know this, and it could help get you extra brownie points. Also make sure that personalization doesn’t equal = “your agency has a proven track record of…” anybody could say that. Instead, you should mention specific things the agent has said in interviews, maybe on their #MSWL even, but always be sure the information is still accurate. Don’t quote a blog post from 2008 since their wish list might (and probably has) changed since then.

It’s tempting to stay holed up in your writing nook, and just blast that query letter the moment you’ve typed your last word, staying blind to the outside world, to the advice of blogs and literary agents and other writer friends. After all, they don’t know your work, or how hard it was to get to this point. You just know that once an agent reads those first few pages, they’ll be hooked. You’re going to go with your gut, do what feels right, and just jump in head first. But this is a mistake. One that could potentially cost you getting an agent, and after all that hard work, is it really worth it?

Since I’m not a jerkasauraus, here is a list of resources for all you non-researching writers looking to convert:

Immerse yourself in the writing community you are hoping to break into, do your research, be honest with yourself about your novel, work hard on your writing and hope for the best!

Click the picture below to follow me on Twitter!

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Manuscript wishlist for Thao Le of of Sandra Dijkstra & Associates!

Submissions email :

Twitter handle: @thaole8

Facebook link:

Manuscript Wishlist

Thao is currently looking for Adult Sci-fi/Fantasy, Young Adult, Middle Grade, and is selectively open to Romance/New Adult, and Picture Books by authors who are also illustrators.

For Adult and YA SF/F, she enjoys stories rooted in mythology, fairytales, and legends with atmospheric settings and strong world building.

For contemporary YA, she’s seeking witty, heartfelt writing with an authentic teen voice. Think Stephanie Perkins, Jenny Han, or Sarah Dessen.

For Middle Grade, she’s looking for fantastic adventures and clever heroes/heroines the likes of Lemon Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, and Soman Chainani’s School of Good and Evil.

She’s a fan of picture books by Jon Klassen, Kate Beaton, Cale Atkinson, and Liz Climo and would like to add picture books in the same vein to her list.

For Romance and New Adult, she’s drawn to strong, memorable characters whose individual journeys brings…

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Me handing over my book
Me handing over my book

Big manuscript milestone today! I finished the edits on my book (after about four rounds) and sent to my beta readers for feedback! This is the first time anyone has read the book in it’s entirety & I’ll be honest, it’s kind of  terrifying.


I had one of those, “wait, wait, wait” moments today, thinking if I just read it over ONE more time ( I PROMISE) it would be a good idea. The truth is, I have to let it go sooner or later, and my book will never be perfect. The point of beta readers is to get feedback, improve the book and make it the best it can be before agent submissions but if I never send it I will never get to that step (and ultimately never get a chance to publish my book traditionally). I have some awesome beta readers (including my friend Megan from who you should totally contact if you need editing help!)


While they read, I will be getting my query letters sorted for my first round of agent queries. I have already chosen which agents to query first, but I want to make sure they each know I did my research on them (as should you if you are querying) beyond “I admire your agency and your proven track record.” It should be more specific than that.


So wish me luck on these next few weeks, waiting is a biatch, but it’s part of the process (a big part of it). If you need me, I’ll be with Spongebob.


Me, querying my book.

If you’re an author looking for agent representation make sure you are following the #MSWL tag on twitter! There’s a new session coming up this Tuesday, July 28th. It’s also coinciding with an updated website launch which you can visit here:

MSWL stands for Manuscript Wish List and this is how it works:

  • Agent/editor Tweets type of MS they’re looking for, followed by the tag #MSWL.

    Example of a #MSWL tweet
    Example of a #MSWL tweet
  • You find a tweet which mentions a MS similar to yours, send to said agent (following their submission guidelines) and mention you saw it on #MSWL!
  • If you don’t have a finished manuscript do not send! If you’re close to finishing you can send to the agent in the near-future with a note about #MSWL (Like: “I saw your tweet calling for XYZ on #MSWL last month but I had yet to polish my manuscript at the time. I was hoping you were still looking for XYZ as I have a project I think matches well with your request,” OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT).
  • Make sure you don’t pitch anyone using the #MSWL tag! It’s for agents and editors ONLY. You should be silently watching them, like writer ninjas.
  • Follow their submission guidelines! If they don’t state it on their Twitter timeline today, find their agency website and they should be there. #MSWL doesn’t preclude you from the rules man.
  • And… tumblr_llao9lREhI1qi92zzo1_500


A helpful graphic guide for #MSWL participants:

mswlguidelinesPlease feel free to reblog and share! Best of luck!