Friday, August 31, 2012

Unbreak My Heart

I know this is going to make me sound completely mental - but I've recently discovered Doctor Who streaming on Netflix and I'm in the middle of a Doctor Who addiction.

Well, at least I was.

A Little History:
Once upon a time a little girl (me) with thick ugly glasses, shaggy unruly hair, and an obsession with books used to watch cartoons after school every day.  Then one day a Japanese cartoon called "Robotech" aired, which was in essence, a Japanese soap opera in space with English dubbed over.  I was addicted!  I watched this show religiously and then went to school and obsessed about it with my friends.

It was my very first TV/Book addiction, and I've had a few - but this one wrecked me, and I'll tell you why.  Because at the end of the first season of Robotech, the crew of the human "mother ship" sacrificed themselves in order to save the remainder of the humans from evil invading aliens and I sobbed, and sobbed, and sobbed FOR DAYS.  The one shining light of hope was the fact that the second in command of the ship, Lisa, had somehow been shoved into an escape pod by the captain just before it exploded.  Never mind the fact this was completely implausible (hey - it's a Sci-Fi cartoon soap opera!), but she was able to survive and live happily ever after with her fighter pilot boyfriend, and it was the only solace I took from the end of that first season (which I still dream about to this day).



I was 9.
I told no one in my family about my grief.  Not a soul.  They had no idea why I was in such a deep dark depression, and frankly, I'm not even sure they noticed.

In fact, when season 2 and 3 of Robotech aired, I hardly watched it - I was so unwilling to invest my heart and soul in a show that had pulled my heart strings right out of my chest.

Years passed - I moved on.

Skip Ahead Almost Thirty Years:

Me: fully recovered, watching Doctor Who.  No problem!  I haven't been obsessively heart broken over fake characters in almost three decades, I'm safe!  In fact, I even managed to survive my Harry Potter obsession without being emotionally scarred by having several secondary characters croak, and I even managed to muddle through a Game of Thrones obsession without breaking my heart, even after every last one of my favorite characters died (Thanks for that George RR Martin).

But Doctor Who...
Sci-Fi alien dude and side-kick chick travel the universe and time continuum on a world wind adventure.  There's self-sacrifice (usually by guest characters), and a budding romance between said alien, The Doctor, and his gal-pal, a 19 year old human named Rose.

They have lots of fun together!

In fact, they frolic through time and space and are so freaking adorable I start skimming episodes just so I can see them laugh together and have adventures.  It's only a TV show, but somehow I'm also going through Pinterest and watching fan-made videos of them on YouTube, and then I find out that the Rose character is written out of the show, and I'm like, "Wow, I wonder how the writers handle that?"  I'm a writer, after all, I've killed off characters before - I've written for TV, I GET it.  Actors leave, shows grow stale. It happens.  No biggie.

Skip ahead to me, watching an episode where not only is there self-sacrifice in order to protect the remaining human race from the invading aliens, but the girl and the guy don't even get each other as solace. And then it ends!

Me: bawling my eyeballs out, sobbing uncontrollably (Thank GOD my husband was out of town or he would have had me committed), and I AM HEART BROKEN BEYOND REPAIR.

Over a TV show, for God's sake!

This hasn't happened since I was 9!

I'm a grown woman with a wonderful life, and a great family and I'm destroyed over Rose and The Doctor not being able to be together.
It's ridiculous!

Skip ahead a few seasons of Doctor Who and the producers manage to give Rose a humanized clone of The Doctor in order to appease my ruptured heart, but it's not the same thing - they cheated.
They really, really did.  It's not him - I don't care if he does tell her he loves her!


Friends tell me that later on, Doctor Who is just as great, if not better.  There are more side-kicks, each wonderful for a whole bunch of other reasons, but my heart can't take it - like season 2 and 3 of Robotech I cannot emotionally invest in new characters.  They'll be taken from me too, I bet.  
Can't do. Just can't.

You can't make me.
((Plugs my ears and dances around in circles))
La, la, la, la, la, la, la!

Sad.
I'm pitiful, pathetic, and sad.
Depressed even.
Over a freaking TV show.

I've been so clingy even my Vulcan husband noticed I was acting strange.

Ack - I'm getting emotional just writing about it now!
((sniff))
Pardon me while I go cry and order Tardis memorabilia off Etsy.



Monday, August 20, 2012

The Savvy Self-Marketer Basics

Having released a few "indie" titles myself, I have learned a thing or two about self-marketing a book.
I have no magic formula, and I'm no expert - but perhaps you might find my suggestions helpful.

1) Facebook Professional Page
 - If you don't have an "Author" page on Facebook yet, you should make one, even if your book isn't out in the marketplace yet.  Share it with your friends on your personal page and beg for 'Likes,' just to get the ball rolling.  Be sure to have links to your blog and/or website visible without having to click anything else (like in the 'About' section just under your picture).  Do not post pics of your kids.  Do not post personal comments about how much you hate going to the dentist.  Keep this page strictly for announcements of book signings, trailers, school appearances, etc.  In my personal experience, the more you post, the more your 'Likers' get annoyed and 'Unlike' you, so keep it to the bare necessities.  Unless, of course, you're George Takai - then post every twenty minutes because he's fricking hilarious.

Once your book is released, splurge a couple hundred dollars on a Facebook Ad which directs clicks to your FB Author Page, you'll get a fair amount of 'Likes,' and create attention for your book.  Do not, however, have continuous Ads on FB, as it's expensive, and doesn't guarantee sales increases.  My advice?  Run an Ad a week every month for the first three months after your book is released then see what happens.  It may take off, it may not.

2) GoodReads.com
- When I released 'Shut Up' I had two GoodReads.com giveaways two months apart.  This created quite a lot of attention on that particular site, and my 'To Read' numbers climbed dramatically during each contest.  I gave away 10 autographed copies each time (on my own dime) and posted links to the Giveaway on my FB page, my blog, and on Twitter.  I received quite a few positive reviews on that website from the giveaways and feel it was totally worth the expense.

The other expense on GoodReads is their inexpensive Advertising sales, which shows your book cover and a short description on the side bars of GoodReads.com.  Again, cheap and effective.

The one word of advice I will administer is this: DON'T RESPOND TO REVIEWS OF YOUR BOOK!  Even if it's positive.  Amongst the bloggers and reviewers, author responses (even "liking" a positive review) can be seen as a manipulation of the system, and is generally frowned upon.  So my advice is to advertise, giveaway and go silent as the grave.

3) Book Bloggers
- There are a great many book bloggers these days.  A lot. Google 'Book Review Websites' and gawk away.  It's insane.
When I released both my books I contacted bloggers individually and asked if they would be willing to accept a free copy of my book in exchange for an honest review, a lot of them accepted.  This was all on my own dime, again.  Mind you, not everyone who accepted a free copy of my book posted a review.  Not only that, you might not like the review they give you if they do post one.  There are no guarantees.
Pick your reviewers very carefully in the beginning, and get as many as you can from blogs with over 200 followers.  The more followers, the more people who are going to see this review.  In the beginning of my self-marketing push for my first book, I got a lot of bloggers who were willing to accept my book and a lot of them gave excellent reviews, but since their blog was practically unheard of, it wasn't exactly a magic formula to increasing awareness of my work.  So, not to sound like that old knight in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, but, choose wisely.

4) Twitter
Twitter is great fun, and very popular amongst adults - but if you are a YAish author, like me, not many teens are using it.  Mostly teens are using instagram - which I have yet to figure out.  However, if you want to rub cyber-elbows with other authors, agents, editors, critics, and literary hobknobbers, Twitter can be a great source.  Make an account, Search your genre, the word agent, editor, and author and Follow as many as humanly possible (2,000) until they cut you off.  Give it a few days, and then go to JustUnFollow.com and use that program (it's free!) to unFollow anyone who is not following you back (although, I follow a slew of editors who don't follow me, just because I like stalking editors, teehee),  then search again and Follow some other editors, authors and agents, and eventually, your Followers will grow.  Keep your Tweets witty, relevant, and don't spam links to your book every other hour.  Once a day in the beginning of your release, once a week after a month or two, and then after three months - give it a rest, because nobody cares anymore.  #truth
Don't be a troll.
No bashing the business you are trying to break into.
Don't send creepy messages or queries in Direct Messages to agents and/or editors you want to read your book.
Don't bash other author's work, unless you are prepared never to work with that agent and/or publishing house when your time comes.
Be supportive.
If you wish to send angry Tweets about your cheating no-good ex-boyfriend, keep it vague and don't name names.  The internet is permanent and so is anything you Tweet.
Be smart.

5) Blog
I think this one is a little obvious, so I'm not going to spend too much time on this one.
Get a blog.  Blog at least once a week.  Have links to your Twitter and Facebook page.  Occasionally, write a post about how to self-market, and then post a link to that post to create more blog traffic. ;)

Again, same as Twitter.
Don't be a troll.
Unless, of course, you're Amanda Hocking, in which case being half-troll is acceptable (this is not a bash, this is a reference to her incredibly popular e-book to blockbuster series about a girl who is half-troll, so just relax). :P

6) Website
Apart from your blog where you are writing lengthy posts about your writing process and what-have-you, you should also purchase the url of your name (ie. www.AnneTibbets.com) and use it as a hub to direct people to your blog, your FB page, Twitter, Instagram, and whatever else.
When you get rich and famous you can have it professionally designed, but in the meantime, just get it, spend $5.99 a month on GoDaddy.com and use their template - it's so easy!  And that way, when you are ready, it's already yours to do with as you will.


I hope these ideas are even just a little helpful.
I wish you all the greatest luck and success!

Think I'm wrong?
Think I missed something?
Comment below and let me know!



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

So You Think You Can Write...

I've been writing professionally for over a decade, I've learned a thing or two.
Some of these things are random opinions that can't fill an entire blog post.
Here they are, in no particular order:

- In the beginning of your career, do not work with a partner.
            Why?
             Because you may or may not have to defend your work to your partner, and if you are not confident or well practiced in the execution of your work, you will get bulldozed.
             Just take my word for it.

- Go to conferences and seminars, but mostly, write.
              Why?
               I have gone to many a seminar and many a conference, and very often I meet people who are there because they "have an idea" for a kid's book, but want to know how to break into the business (in other words, they want to know if actually WRITING the book would be a waste of their time), and they are hoping that they will meet some agent or editor who will hear their idea and jump all over it and they will sell it on the conference room floor.
               Mind you, they haven't even written it yet.  First they want to be sure they can sell it.
               REALITY CHECK: This NEVER HAPPENS!!!
               I have never, never, never, never, never heard of any agent, editor or whoever that has bought an unwritten book from a debut author.  Mind you, once you become say, Stephen King or J.K. Rowling or a celebrity, then your books can be purchased on your name recognition alone, but for us every day schmoes, you have to actually write the book, and you have to write it REALLY well.  The idea could be ground-breaking and the most amazing thing you've ever heard in your life, but if the writing isn't there it doesn't mean jack.
                Writing conferences and seminars are for writers, not for idea-ers.
                Write the damn book.

- No, you do not need to copyright your draft.
                   Why?
                   There has been instances in Hollywood where a screenwriter submits a script to the studio and they pass, and eight months later - WHAMO - the same concept written by a totally different screenwriter is in production and the screenwriter is like, "Wait a second! I'm going to sue the multi-billion-dollar movie studio, trash my reputation, and get buried under hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills just so I can get a post in the Hollywood Reporter that I pitched that project to them first."
                    NEWS FLASH: You cannot own an idea.  You can copyright your script, but in most cases if the 800 lb. gorilla movie studio wants to steal it, they will steal it without remorse because, hey - they're an 800 lb. gorilla.  I'm not saying it's right, I'm saying it's a fact.
                    Unless they took your script word-for-word (and these 800 lb. gorillas are too smart to do that) then you have no case - and why? Because you cannot own an idea.  Just the execution of that idea.
                    But - does this apply to books?
                    Maybe I'm not in the right circles, or maybe big time publishers are more discreet with their stealing, or maybe there isn't stealing going on at all - but I have not once, ever, heard a story about a book getting pitched and passed and then the author suing a few months later.  I'm pretty certain it happens, but I've never seen press to this effect.
                     That's because the big time publisher can easily say, "We pass because we already have something like this is development," and the author has no choice but to believe them.  True or not, this is a fact of business.  Suing a big time publisher without concrete documentation and PROOF is a fool's errand.  Just don't do it.
                      So, my very paranoid writer friends, do you think that getting your manuscript copyrighted with help protect your work?  My very sad and pessimistic point of view is this: Nope.
                     Doesn't matter.  It's a waste of time and money.  If the big time publisher wants to steal your concept and have someone else write it, they will.  Very, very, very rarely and probably never, have I heard of a big time publisher taking someone's exact manuscript and publishing it under a different author's name.  Again, like the 800 lb. Hollywood gorilla, they are too smart for that.
                     Copyright?  Forgettaboutit.
                     HOWEVER, if you feel the absolute NEED to prove you wrote your masterpiece at a certain time, then print a copy, and mail it to yourself, and DON'T OPEN THE PACKAGE.  The postmark will have a date and prove when the MS was written.  It's cheap, it's effective.  If it puts your mind at ease, then go for it, but I'm telling you, honestly, I wouldn't bother.
                    Big time publishers copyright your book for you when it's published to protect you from piracy.  I'm pretty sure they are on our side, and we don't need protection from them - but that's just me.

Again, I hope this advice is somewhat helpful!
Comments are always welcome.
Think I'm wrong?
Let me know.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Piracy

Well, I guess you could say, I've "arrived."

I came across a Tweet yesterday that posted a link to a free download of "The Beast Call."
Although I'm pleased as punch that people want to read my book, I am a little chagrined at the fact people are downloading it for free.

It's 99 cents people.
Splurge!

Oh, well.
I'd like to make my fair share and buy a gumball - which is about how much I make every time someone buys it.
Don't you want to contribute to my continued dental decay?
No?

A good friend recommended I look at the positive side.
I'm so "wildly popular" I'm being pirated!
Oh goody.

I'm about to go on a quest to see if I can't find free downloads of "Shut Up" too.
Since "Shut Up" is priced higher, I'm actually able to buy a whole sandwich when someone buys that book.

The Soapbox:
Free downloads of books are like free downloads of music.
Someone gets cheated.
It's not good karma, and not good for the arts in general.

Alright, I'm putting my soapbox away, for now.


SUPPORT THE ARTS - DON'T STEAL IT!

Ok, done - I promise.

JUST DON'T!

Shutting up now.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

How to Find Crit Partners

Every time I go to a writers conference, many of the speakers will either thank their crit partners for their help in perfecting their manuscript, or give the advice that every writer there should join a critique group.

Crit groups are a tricky beast.  The right crit group can help evolve your work and grow it in places you never knew were lacking.  Bad crit groups can make you defensive, cause stress, and make you doubt you should be a writer at all.

Here's my two cents about how to choose the right crit group.

1) Don't commit right away.
If you are invited to a crit group, be sure to express right off the bat that you are willing to give it a try, but aren't ready to dive right in head first.  Give the group your first ten pages, or the first three chapters of your Work-in-progress (WIP) and see what you get back.  If you like the notes you get back, there's hope yet.  If the notes you get back are not what you are looking for, bow out gracefully, quickly.  There's no point in torturing yourself AND THEM with a bad fit.

2) What makes good notes?
I've tried crit groups that gave notes likes, "I just don't get it," or "This didn't make sense," or similar vague and unhelpful responses.  Good crit notes are specific.  What doesn't make sense?  (Ex. "Why is MC mad here? Need more internal dialogue").  If I can't figure out your notes, how am I supposed to fix what confused you?  Helpful notes tell you what to add, and don't point out what's missing.
Does that make sense?
It's the best way to be helpful and respectful at the same time.
Generally speaking when I get notes I want first and foremost notes on story.  Did it flow?  Did the character's actions make sense?  And this is the one I love the most: how did you feel when you read a certain part of the book?  Did I mention how much I love that note?
Ex. "I'm so pissed off at the MC right now!"
My typical response?  Good!  You're supposed to be!
Ex. "Creepy! I'm glad I'm reading this during the day."
YAY!  It was supposed to be creepy.
This is how the writer knows they are accomplishing what they wanted.  If, however, you have written a love scene and the crit partner notes, "This is hysterical! So funny!" then you know you've missed the mark.
Typos.  Some people might disagree with me here, but if someone finds a typo in my MS, mark it - I want to know.
You don't need to, however, fix all my many punctuation mistakes (maybe one or two examples - I usually have a proof reader go through and fix that after the MS is done), and I hope to God that I am at a stage in my writing career that I don't need crit partners to fix my grammar.
One or two corrections in the whole MS, that's fine - but if your crit partners are finding grammar mistakes in every paragraph, you might want to consider taking a class, or perfecting your craft before joining a crit group.  You won't get an agent or an editor with grammar like that anyhow.  I'm not trying to be cruel, but that's the truth.

3) Personalities.
I one time worked with a crit partner who was smart, articulate, sweet as pie - and made me feel like a complete idiot.  I'm not sure she did it on purpose, but working with her (and this was a long time ago, so I feel safe in admitting this) made me second guess my every word.  She'd complain about things I thought were perfectly fine, and she didn't seem to understand a single word I wrote, as she was always stating, "I just don't get this."  I think it was a combination of bad notes and personality.  Your crit partners should be respectful, and give constructive notes in a polite, but honest way.  You should like your crit partner afterwards.  You shouldn't want to give up writing afterwards, or slit your wrists, or wring their necks.
If you are a sensitive individual and can't take criticism, again, perhaps you should consider another line of work.
For years I stayed away from crit groups thinking that I wasn't emotionally able to handle the criticism until I joined a group last year and got GOOD notes and then I "saw the light."  Not only do I love my crit friends on a professional and emotional level, they are my biggest cheerleaders as well.  My MS was better after they read it and I was and still am so very thankful!
Maybe I had gotten confident enough in my work to take a note, or maybe (and I find this more likely) the other crit reader and I just weren't a good fit.
It happens!
Don't be afraid to say, "This just isn't working for me."
Honestly, my major mistake was not speaking up, and like a good soldier, I tried to make the crit partnership work, when in truth - it was doomed from the beginning.
Again, we were both at fault.
Not being good crit partners doesn't mean you still can't be friends!  But it's also a lot like dating, and you shouldn't date a guy or gal that's going to make you feel worse about yourself.

4) How to Find Them
Go to conferences.  Join message boards.  Follow blogs.  Ask around.  The truth is, you have to be invited to an existing crit group.  I, for years, would ask other people if they were looking for a crit reader and get shot down.  Eventually, after I stopped asking, I was invited to one, and am now lounging in a special cloud in heaven.  Be friendly.  Meet people.  Be open.  Be smart and respectful.  Ask around.  It might not happen right away.  But if you play your cards right, it will happen eventually.  Be patient.  And give good notes so they decide to keep you.  The first time they give you something of theirs to read, it's a test.  Don't blow it.
No pressure.
Teehee!

I hope this is helpful in some way.
As I said before, a bad experience can taint your career for life, but a good one can uplift you to heights you never knew were possible.
Keep searching!
It is SO worth the effort.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Query Letters for Beginners

So, you have a manuscript and you want to get it published...What do you do?

Some might tell you that you should self-publish it - you get to keep more of the royalties, it happens lickity split, and there is the immediate satisfaction of seeing your words available for download and/or print-on-demand paperback.

HOWEVER, unless you want to spend the next year of your life doing nothing but begging people to buy your book, I suggest you try the traditional approach, which involves literary agents, publishers, a lot of waiting, with only the chance of seeing your book on sale in a Barnes and Noble.  Mind you, you'll still be begging, but you won't be the ONLY one begging.  It helps, if only a little.

Me personally, I've tried it both ways.  This post is for those of you determined to break into traditional publishing.

The first step, after writing and rewriting and taking notes from your writer friends and rewriting your manuscript again and again, the FIRST THING you need to do is write a query letter.

Query letters are sent to literary agents.
Literary agents will then work with you to rewrite your manuscript again and then they will submit the manuscript to editors at publishing companies, who will then read it and IF they wish to buy it, they will spend the next six months to a year helping you rewrite it again.

SIDE NOTE: If you haven't noticed, I'm hitting the "writing is rewriting" point very hard, and this is because you never ever truly finish writing a novel.  Never.  You just decide you've rewritten it enough, and then abandon it.  That's the truth.  To get published traditionally YOU WILL REWRITE your book multiple times.  And YOU SHOULD REWRITE it multiple times, and gladly - good lit agents and editors know their biz, listen to them!

Alright, the query.
There is an industry "standard" of what should be in a query, but every agent is different.
Write a template that you will then be able to change and manipulate to follow the individual specifications of each agent - because heaven forbid they should all want the same thing.

Step 1: Know What Your Manuscript's Genre Is
That's horrible grammar, but you get the idea.
Is your book a Young Adult novel?
For example's sake, let's say it is.  That's great, but WHERE in the Young Adult genre does it fit?
Contemporary (Otherwise called Realistic Fiction)?
Romantic comedy?
Comedy?
Dystopian?
Paranormal?
Science Fiction?
Fantasy?
Magical Realism?
Historical?
Historical Romance?
Action/Adventure?
Thriller/Suspense?
Mystery?
Romance?

If you don't know, find out - or your book is a combination of a few, then combine no more than two.
For example, "I would like for you to consider reading my Historical Romance, Martha Washington's Corset."  Paranormal Romance (Twilight). Action/Adventure Dystopian (Hunger Games).  If you don't know what your genre and sub-genre are then the agent is going to know you are a newbie, and above all else agent's want to deal with professionals.  Know your stuff.

Step 2: The Summary Paragraph
Some agents like a beginning, middle and end in their summary paragraph.  Some just want a teaser.
I have had personal effectiveness with a well written teaser.  What would the back cover paragraph of your book be like? Write it.  Try several drafts.  Set up the story, complicate it, then tell the reader what the main character's main objective is, and stop.  Leave out details.  Just give the broad strokes.
Chose your words carefully.  It should not be longer than one paragraph.  No more than five sentences.   Agents are busy.  They read thousands of paragraphs a week. Don't waste their time.  Get to the point and get to it quickly. Then stop.

Step 3: DO YOUR RESEARCH!!!
In your query you should mention WHY you are querying this particular agent.  You should not be blindly sending out queries to every agent listed in Writers Market - you are just setting yourself up for multiple rejections if you do that.
Find a list of agents, either in Writers Market or on QueryTracker.com.  Pick a name.  Then go to that person's agency website and read their bio.  Agents will explain what they love, what they are looking for, what they want to represent.  Don't send them a romance if they say, "I love action adventury thrillers."  If they are looking for something different, they'll say so.  Don't presume to know what they want more than they do.  "Gee, she doesn't have any historicals on her list, maybe she'd like one." NO! If she wanted a historical, she'd list it.  Then, Google the agent's name and read any interview, article, or Tweet they may have given.  Find out what they are like.  If they're snarky and a bit harsh and you are sensitive and cry easily - find someone else.  I'm not joking.  You will be working with this person on your book and taking notes from them, if they have a nasty sense of humor and you're uptight and take offense then look elsewhere.  It's just common sense.
Ok, so you've read their bio, you've read their Tweets and interviews, and they like your genre and sub-genre...THEN and only then should you send them a query.
It used to take me an hour a query - and not because I was writing a new one for each agent, but because I was checking to see if the agent I was researching was a good fit.
Take the time.
Believe me, it's worth it!!

"Dear Agent, I am contacting you in hopes you would like to consider representing my Historical Comedy, Mark Twain's Underwear.  Since you represented Benjamin Franklin's Kite G-String, and requested historical comedies on your agency biography, I thought this would be right up your alley."

Step 4: Your bio.
Short.  Sweet.  Relevant.
Don't list out every award you've ever won since the 6th grade.  They want to hear about your writing, and not much else.  Any recent writing awards, yes - list those.  Truthfully, however, they don't want your life story.  Limit your bio.  Again, a short paragraph, no more than five (5) sentences.  Less, if you can manage it.

"I began my writing career in college where I edited the university literary magazine.  I am a member of SCBWI and received second place in the writing contest on Writers Day, Los Angeles, 2011."
--Something like that.

Step 5: Stats
Agents want to know the word count.  NOT THE PAGE COUNT.  Word count.
They also want to know you've included exactly what they asked for.
99% of agents do not open attachments on emails, so include the first 10 pages (only if they asked for it!) in the bottom of the email, under your query letter.

"John Adams Goes Bald is currently 75,000 words.  Per your submission specifications, I have included the first three chapters and a one page summary in the body of this email."

If they ask for ten pages, send ten pages.
If the page ends in the middle of a sentence, they EXPECT you to include the end of that sentence, no more, no less.

Step 6: The Send Off

"Thank you for your consideration.  I look forward to your response."

Do not call their office.  Do not email once a week and ask if they've read it yet.  Don't bug them at all. In fact, if you don't hear from them in 12 weeks, consider it a "No" and don't bother them again.  If they lost your query, you don't want to work with that agency anyway!

Sign your name and include the links to your blog, Twitter account and Facebook page (if you have one) - and if you don't - you should.

Step 7: Organizing Your Query

Some queries start with the summary paragraph.  Some start with the bio.  Some start with a funny line or comment about the agent and/or agency.  Whatever is your strength, lead with it.

For example, I had a manuscript win 2nd place at an SCBWI Writers Day in April, 2011 and this totally shocked me because I had written a YA Dystopian that was so different than anything I'd seen in YA, I wasn't even sure people would classify it as a YA.  I didn't question the manuscripts genre in the letter, but you can believe I started my query with the fact it had won an award.

If your summary is spectacular, start with that.  If you've been a journalist in your life and you're writing a book about a journalist, lead with that.  Put your best foot forward, you want the agent to read your first paragraph and then be so interested, they keep reading.

Step 7: Hit Send

My method of sending out queries was this: I always had ten letters in circulation.
I sent out ten to agents I had either met, or heard speaking at an event, and waited.  When they got back to me either with a no or a request for pages, I then sent out more alphabetically off QueryTracker.com so I always had ten floating around.

To find my query stats look here:http://writeforcoffee.blogspot.com/2012/05/my-agent-search-stats.html

If you have any questions, or I missed a BIG part of querying that is escaping my brain at present, comment below!

I hope this helps and good luck!