Friday, 23 December 2011

On Not Getting Rejected

At least, for the time being.

Yeah, that's right. Who got a request for a full yesterday? This gurl.

There I was, waiting for my friends to get to my house so we could prelash* and casually checking all my internet things i.e. Tumblr, Perez, Faceyb, Hotmail, Gmail. And in my Gmail inbox was a message from one of the agents I queried - cue "Oh my God, I don't really need to get rejected before I'm supposed to go out right now" - and so I opened it, and imagine my surprise when it did not read "Thank you for your interest but blah blah blah", but actually said "Please send me the whole manuscript"!

Now cue clapping hands and "Shut up. Shut up! Shut up!"


And then cue oh-my-God-how-do-I-respond-when-should-I-send-it-why-does-my-word-count-say-50,000not-53,000-what-is-going-on-with-my-formatting-WHY-HAVE-THESE-INDENTS-GONE-WRONG-I-CAN'T-DEAL-WITH-THIS-RIGHT-NOW-oh-it-was-only-a-few-pages-what-should-I-save-this-document-as-press-send-now-now-NOW-aaaand-it's-gone.

So my baby has gone out into the wild world and hopefully in a few months I wil have a response. It might be good (please be good!!!) and it might be bad, but even if this doesn't end up going anywhere, it has been a pretty good moment for me. I mean, my first request! I might print it out and stick it on my wall**. If anything, it has given me confidence that I'm doing things at least slightly right. I MEAN, A REQUEST FOR A FULL! Shit yeah.

In all my whirlwind of panic, this article was really useful and so was this one. And now I'm going to bed because it's Christmas Eve tomorrow and I have to trek to London to see the fam. MERRY CHRISTMAS!


p.s. I got a new tat this week, which reads "Clear eyes, full hearts". If you don't know what that refers to, then I don't want to know you. If you do, then you are probably fighting back tears right now thinking about Coach etc.


*put on make-up and our fanciest clothes and drink lots of alcohol (except for me because I don't drink)

**not even joking

Saturday, 17 December 2011

On Thinking...(whilst giving blood)

Lately I have been having one of those phases where I don't know what to write or how to write it, and I keep distracting myself from actually working by doing useful things like chatting shit to my friends on Faceyb and watching Season 4 of Six Feet Under and knitting a snood.

But the other day I went to give blood. As you can imagine, this involves a little bit of lying on a bed doing nothing (except clenching and unclenching your fist). While I was lying there, I thought about how when I got home I was definitely going to write, for sure, and then, because I had nothing else to do, I sort of started to write in my head. This is actually what I often do, I write and rewrite and edit in my head, and then I actually put it down on paper (in Word document). See, my problem hadn't actually been that I didn't know what to write - I knew exactly what I was going to write then, and the bit that comes after it - but I'd just been having trouble getting started. So as my precious O+ was being sucked out of me, I fixed my own problem. Easy, really.

I think the real problem is that no-one ever really sits and does nothing anymore. We're always in front of computers or reading magazines or listening to the radio. I mean, why would anyone sit down to write without anything to actually write with/on? But I think all that sitting in front of a blank screen puts so much pressure on you to create something that fills the empty space - and then, when you can't, you start getting stressed, and then you think, "Well, I'll just check my email, and maybe Tumblr, and ASOS in case they have any new shoes I simply must see." Or is that just me?

Anyway, my point is that sometimes we should step away from computers, televisions, books, cooking, cleaning and whatever else, and just sit in silence for ten minutes. And if genius doesn't strike...at least you've had ten minutes of truly doing nothing. Who doesn't love that?

P.S. You should all give blood, and also sign up to be bone marrow donors, and hey, while you're at it, why not give away some of your platelets? Because you don't really need them all, do you?

Friday, 2 December 2011

Queries!

Howdy y'all. Let's get real. I'mma be real with you for a moment.

Yesterday I sent out some queries. WHAT! Oh yeah. After writing and editing and leaving it alone and editing and getting a critique and rewriting and then telling myself to LEAVE IT ALONE REBECCA! After all that...oh, hang on: After writing a query and then realising it was a synopsis and writing another query and rewriting and rewriting and staring at the screen for h-o-u-r-s-a-n-d-h-o-u-r-s, I finally...wait, after setting up a new super professional email address, and after researching agents, and after making a spreadsheet (for realz)...after ALL of that, I sent out some queries!!!

Oh, it's a scary business, isn't it? The best bit is when you're about to send and you can't...quite...click...it...Yes, that took me a little while! Now comes the wait. Hopefully after 4-weeks-to-3-months I will have some replies in my inbox. They might be rejections, but they just might not be - and if they are, then I will mourn for a minute (read: sob wildly listening to Sufjan Stevens for about a month) and move on to the next round.

Here's some random tips on queries and who-to-query (read on for my legit expert knowledge*):

1. Do your research

Make sure that any agent you submit to actually represents your genre! Seems basic, but apparently a lot of people don't think it's very important. "What's this, Mr. Billy Megatron doesn't accept MG sci-fi romance in verse? Well, my MS will surely change his mind. SEND!" Don't do that shit bro. You will only get rejected, and fast.

2. Find out what the agent wants

Agents like it when you put some effort in! Starting off your query with "I'm submitting to you because I've read you like YA fiction" says absolutely nothing. In fact, it might just say that you have simply searched for any and all agents representing YA and you are spamming them with your MS. Starting with "I'm submitting to you because I've read that you are searching for gritty, sexy writing with a strong voice" says that you've read their bio or an interview they gave, or you've at the very least Googled around a little bit. You should check out this blog because it is banging, you can click on the agent you're interested in and they have rounded up all sorts of info for you, including which agency they're at and what they rep alongside a selection of quotes on what they're looking for. You're welcome.

3. Make a spreadsheet

Hello, 3 years of secondary school ICT. I knew you would come in helpful for more than knowing how to make Powerpoints where the words fly in and then explode. Make yourself a spreadsheet where you can input all the data you find: Agent's name, agency, key things they want, how you can submit to them (email/snail mail/form), email address, average response time. You can also log the date you submit and the date they respond - and if they haven't responded yet, check when you sent it and how long they usually take to get back to you, and if it's about a month over that time then follow up (politely, duh).

4. Get yoself a profesh email address

Yo, no-one's gonna take you seriously when your query comes through from "luvzkittehz273@hotmail.com".

5. Read other people's queries

Out there on this crazy thing called the internet you can find actual real-life queries. On QueryShark people submit their queries, which then get critiqued for all to see. READ THROUGH THE ARCHIVES! Hopefully you will be able to pick up on what does and doesn't work, and then apply that knowledge to your own query. Literary agent Lauren Ruth also does this on her blog, and on Guide to Literary Agents you can see agents show us successful queries and tell us why they worked. I also highly recommend hitting up SlushPile Hell, because this will show you that your query is not really that bad after all, and that there are some craaaaazy people out there.


Now that you have done all that, you're super ready to submit. Go do it! (I must refer you to this* again)

Peace out.

(*obviously I'm not an expert. But you knew that, because what kind of expert says for realz?)

Thursday, 3 November 2011

On Writing: Word Limits

Some people treat writing as a "proper job", locking themselves away in offices with "KEEP OUT" signs on the doors and writing for two straight hours (no distractions, no Facebook, no Wikipedia black holes) until they hit 2,000 words.

Then there are people like me, who move from the sofa to the kitchen to the bedroom to Starbucks to the sofa, toting a laptop and a notebook, and writing sporadically inbetween episodes of Man V. Food until they hit 157 words.

See, I write very slowly and very concisely. Why say in 120,000 words what you can say in 60,000? (I'm looking at you, Stephanie Meyer. And you, Rowling.) I have a goal of writing 500 words a day - which is to say, I make myself write up until I get to around 500 and then shrug and say, "Good enough." If I write more than that, if I crack out 847 or 1000, then great; if I don't, then I don't beat myself up either. The way I look at it is, every word written is one less word to write, and sometimes the things you write when you're pushing yourself too much end up being kind of shitty. And I always find that when I go back and edit I have to rewrite those parts anyway - so if it takes me four days to write it well, really that's better than rushing it in one and then spending four days editing it. Don't you think?

P.S. It was my birthday last Friday! Officially not a teenager anymore...