Oct 1, 2018

GUEST POST: Meg Kassel on the Querying Process

Last month I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Meg Kassel's Black Birds of the Gallows series! It was fun and pretty unique taking on the given subject matter! I was then asked by Entangled Teen if I'd like to have Meg write up a guest post and naturally I said yes!

Today I have Meg here talking about her journey to publication and the querying process! Something I always like to get more advice on!

I’ve never known anyone call querying “fun.” Let me just say that up front. It’s nerve racking, stressful, nail-biting, but there is something hopeful and exciting about it, too. You never know what you’re going to find in your inbox. It could be a(nother) rejection. It could be a full request from a dream agent or editor. And the whole thing hinges on the short letter you write: your query letter. The thing is, whether you indie or traditionally publish, you’re going to have to write some version of these things. For self publishers, you need to write a blurb, or “back cover copy” as a description for your book. It’s less of a narrative of what happens, and more of a hook to entice someone to want to read more. There are a lot of similarities between a book blurb and a query letter to an agent or editor. Because this is addressing queries, specifically, I’ll offer a few tips on writing these delightful letters to agents and editors.

First, you aren’t just hoping to hook the agent or editor to read your book, you’re also showing them your relevant credentials. I’m stressing the word relevant, here, as in your prior published works, applicable education, and any professional organizations you belong to. This isn’t a college application. The don’t need to see how well rounded you are (please don’t). Just stick to the facts involving your writing career. 

Second, keep your “synopsis” short—1-2 paragraphs. Synopsis is in quotes because it’s really a teaser, a hook. You’re selling it here, so avoid a blow-by-blow description. 

Simplified, you’re presenting this: 

What is the genre/category/word count? (ex: 90K, contemporary YA)
Who are the characters?
What do they want?/What is their problem?
What’s stopping them from getting it?/What’s standing in their way?
Getting this part right is an art form in itself. It took me a LONG time to write a decent query. Once I figured it out, it became easier, but they’re still a pain in the tuchas and SO MUCH rides on them. Also, offering comparable titles/films (if you can think of any) can serve you well. Examples: “This book will appeal to readers of John Green and Rainbow Rowell,” or “Harry Potter in space,” or “The Hunger Games meets Game of Thrones.” Just as long as it’s a spot-on comparison, it will give the agent or editor a snapshot of your concept. Also, it gives them a jumping off point when pitching.

A few more tips:

• Use a spreadsheet to keep track of: 1. When you queried. 2. Who you queried. 3. Their response. 4. How long it took them to respond (or if they did. Plenty of agents don’t reply if they’re not interested). 5. If their response was a form letter or had individual feedback.

• Address each query by name, no “Dear agent,” or “To whom it may concern.” Unless you wish to guarantee yourself no requests whatsoever, don’t sent one out to a bunch of recipients using BCC.
They don’t like that.

• Do your research on who you’re querying! Online resources like Querytracker.com and agentquery.com (and many others) can make the process easier and inform you of whether an agent represents what you write, is open to queries, and how they want to be queried.

• Don’t be afraid to get feedback on your letter from someone who’s been around the querying block a time or two! And DON’T send out a query that hasn’t been scoured for typos. Nothing says amateur like spelling mistakes in your query letter.

Finally, try to see the process as an adventure! Querying your manuscript can be as heartbreaking as it can be exhilarating. When you send out a small batch of queries, you’re sending out your hopes and dreams, and that’s scary. But wonderful possibilities sit on the other side, waiting to be realized. In writing, like most areas of the arts, no one’s gotten anywhere by playing it safe, by never putting their work out in world. Make no mistake: you WILL get rejections. Accept that. Be okay with it. Editors and agents will say, “not for me,” and “didn’t quite connects with (voice/characters/plot/whatever). They’ll say, “no” in a hundred ways, some gently, some blunt, but if you don’t take the chance, it’s guaranteed you’ll never get to that glorious, “yes.” 

Thank you so much for the post Meg! And if you would like to read my reviews on Black Bird of the Gallows and Keeper of the Bees you can find them by clicking the respective titles!

Here's a little more about Meg and her latest release, Keeper of the Bees! *this information was borrowed from Goodreads.

Meg Kassel is an author of paranormal and speculative books for young adults. A New Jersey native, Meg graduated from Parson's School of Design and worked as a graphic designer before embracing her true passion, writing. She now lives in a log house in the Maine woods with her family, and is busy at work on her next novel. A fan of ’80s cartoons, original Netflix series, daydreaming, and ancient mythology, Meg has always been fascinated and inspired by the fantastic, the creepy, and the futuristic. When she’s not writing, Meg is reading, hanging out with her husband and daughter, hiding her peanut butter cups, or walking her rescue mutt, Luna. 

KEEPER OF THE BEES is a tale of two teens who are both beautiful and beastly, and whose pasts are entangled in surprising and heartbreaking ways.

Dresden is cursed. His chest houses a hive of bees that he can’t stop from stinging people with psychosis-inducing venom. His face is a shifting montage of all the people who have died because of those stings. And he has been this way for centuries—since he was eighteen and magic flowed through his homeland, corrupting its people.

He follows harbingers of death, so at least his curse only affects those about to die anyway. But when he arrives in a Midwest town marked for death, he encounters Essie, a seventeen-year-old girl who suffers from debilitating delusions and hallucinations. His bees want to sting her on sight. But Essie doesn’t see a monster when she looks at Dresden.

Essie is fascinated and delighted by his changing features. Risking his own life, he holds back his bees and spares her. What starts out as a simple act of mercy ends up unraveling Dresden’s solitary life and Essie’s tormented one. Their impossible romance might even be powerful enough to unravel a centuries-old curse.

1 comment:

  1. This is one of my top reads for the year so far. Loved it and the cover.


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