Dear Writerly Friends,
Wow. So much is going on.
Let's start with today. I am one of 20 agent-seeking writers participating in An Agent's Inbox. Author Krista Van Dolzer at the blog Mother. Write. (Repeat.) runs this occasional query contest. (Read the explanatory post here.) John Cusick of Greenhouse Literary is the guest agent this time. Krista writes:
"Essentially, The Agent will be answering the question, 'How much of the entry did you read, and if you didn't read it all, why did you stop?' I think this process will be instructive for all of us, but if you enter, you need to be prepared to hear exactly what The Agent thinks of your query and first page."
Stop by Krista's blog and leave a comment on the queries +250 words. Mine is #11.
Last week was Susanna Leonard Hill's Halloweensie writing contest (you can still vote on the finalists here!) This week, An Agent's Inbox. Have you noticed a trend?
More and more writing bloggers are running contest for writers -- an extra opportunity to connect with an editor or agent. I think this is great. We are, after all, Writerly Friends.
My friend Veronica Bartles wrote an insightful post about the value and risks of these online pitch contests. Miss Veronica sold a book to Swoon Romance this summer and then signed with an agent, who will be shopping around her second book. Her advice is GOLDEN.
Veronica also posts a monthly list of online writing and pitch contests at Sub-it Club.
While we're talking contests, Poetry Friday blogger Tabatha Yeatts won the signed copy of Elisabeth Dahl's MG novel GENIE WISHES!
What else is happening?
This past weekend, I went to SCBWI Eastern PA's Fall Fest and Critique Fest with my friend Naomi. This conference is much smaller than those offered in Maryland and the DC area -- only about 60 attendees. The featured speaker was Bryan Collier. (60 adults trying not to cry happy tears of inspiration.)
My favorite part, though, the thing that had me driving 2.5 hours to this conference, was the critique fest. Every attendee had three critiques (first 10 pages): one with an agent, one with an author, one with an editor. The rest of the day was spent in a small group, peer critiquing.
I have been on the other side of the critique table, folks. When you are a critiquing author, and the person across from you was convinced she was going to sell a book to an editor today, it can get awkward.
I loved the structure of this day. Wouldn't it be great if more SCBWI regions ran their critiques this way? There was valuable feedback from each person I spoke with.
Including peer feedback -- genius! A chance to discuss work in a group setting and maybe even make contacts for future critique partners.
Choosing anyone's manuscript or poem out of thousands of submissions is no easy task. As an editor, I read easily 1,000 pieces of writing for each issue of Little Patuxent Review. Right now, I'm narrowing the poetry selection from my top 75 down to about 30. From there, the guest editor and I will make more cuts for our Winter 2014 issue.
What do I look for before I mark a poem accepted?
1. The piece strikes a chord with me on some level.
2. It is well written. In the case of a poem, I'm looking for work that is not overly prosaic, that uses poetic elements to tell a story or explore an idea or image.
3. It is something our reading audience will enjoy. Or, it will stretch the readers' thinking in some way.
4. It fits the overall composition of the issue.
In many ways, I think editors and agents of children's literature are looking for similar things. Even #4 -- agents are building lists. They want to represent a variety of clients. How does the person querying fit into that mix of voices and styles that agent already handles?
Happy querying, everyone! Remember to stop by Mother. Write. (Repeat.) and check out those letters to John Cusick.