Querying is a daunting task for any writer. It was exciting to hear about a writer’s successful journey. Author Farah Heron helped the writers of the WCYR with this anxiety-inducing task. Farah covered a lot of information. She discussed the basic path to traditional publication, agents, query letters, Twitter pitches, contests, and more!
Step One: Write an excellent book.
Before writing a query letter and sending it off to dozens of agents, Farah stressed the importance of learning about the process before you’re ready to start. There are a lot of hurdles to jump over. Farah outlined the steps (hurdles) to traditional publication. You have to ask yourself if traditional publishing is the right path for you. If you have achieved step one (writing an excellent book), anyone can follow these steps. Remember, none of these steps are easy, however, if you want to be published with one of the big publishers, you need an agent. Keep in mind, agents are in your corner for more than just finding you a publisher, they advocate for you along the way. Agents negotiate your contract, help you understand royalty statements, and advocate for you during editorial disputes. Agents are also entitled to 15% of your earnings, they are hard to find, and they might not be necessary for small publishers. It’s important to do your homework when it comes to finding an agent.
You’ve written an excellent book, and done your research, what else do you need? You need to write a kickass query letter!
If you keep getting stock rejections or no responses, your query letter might be the problem. Do your research on how to write one. Remember, this is a business letter, so keep it professional. Farah was meticulous at taking us through the important parts of a query letter, from the blurb to formatting.
Want to go beyond the query letter? Farah went on to explain Twitter pitch events. There are several out there, but the most well-known is #PitMad, administered via Pitch Wars. Each pitch event has its own rules. Again, do your research so the right agents will see your pitch. When it comes to contests, also do your research. With any opportunity to get your work seen, research is your first task.
Farah gave us lots of useful information that will help all of us get better at querying.