IWSG

It’s my second month participating in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group & it couldn’t come at a more crucial time. If you are interested in joining, feel free to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh’s website: http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/

The first week of January I sent out my query to 15 targeted agents. So far I’ve received 4 generic rejections & 2 requests for the fulls. I’m not holding my breath. I’ve sent out 15 queries to targeted agents twice before for different novels. Both times I got 3 requests for the full & both times 1 never got back to me & the others ultimately rejected me, all for different reasons. I honestly expected better response this time though. Perhaps the comment from Leah Hultenschmidt during the discussion for “Pitch-Slam Weekend January 13-15 on YALITCHAT.ORG holds the answer:

“The idea of completing a set amount of tasks is all over the genre right now (Little Blue Envelopes, Instructions for a Broken Heart, 13 Reasons Why to some degree), so you’ll need something extra special to make this really stand out. Maybe give more detail at what’s unexpected so that can be as much of the hook as the instructions.”

Yeah, I see her point. But then I go, “Ahem, how many, like, vampire novels did we have before we stopped rejecting those?” So I’m asking for your help. I hosted an agent query contest with the fab Nicole Resciniti last month, but kept myself out of it. Now I’m asking for your honest opinion. Oh, before I post my query . . . a HUGE thank you to everyone following my blog:) The query contest was to celebrate 100 followers, & now I’m already at 200! Please check back next week for the dets on a contest I’ll host on Feb. 15th to celebrate again (hint: get those first pages ready). Ok, *deep breath*, here it goes:

Seventeen-year-old Olga Gay Worontzoff thinks her biggest problems are an awful name (after her grandmothers, of course) and not going to the prom with Conner, her best friend, drummer in a popular band and secret crush since kindergarten. But when Conner is struck by lightning during their sailing trip on Lake Michigan, Olga’s life loses meaning. She feels responsible for his death, and all the girls at Grand Haven High who also loved Conner have no difficulty in blaming her, too.

The sarcastic and nerdy girl who never missed a day of school is suddenly lost, replaced by someone with no will to get out of bed. As she battles depression, her counselor suggests she write a list titled “18 Things.” She must complete eighteen quests the year of her eighteenth birthday as part of her therapy. Olga enlists the help of her friends, who are eager to offer suggestions. Now all she has to do is fire-walk, try out for the cheerleading squad, break a world record and hardest of all, sail again. What she doesn’t count on is acting as a catalyst for healing in the lives of her friends and finding herself in the process. Then Nate, a good friend who brings a hearty dose of fun to the list, complicates things by asking her out on a date. It’s time to put into practice the lessons her life list has taught her. Life truly does go on. She must risk her own heart, but if she fails, she risks losing her true soul-mate forever.

At 58,000 words, my contemporary YA, 18 THINGS, is a coming-of-age story about acceptance, friendship, love and what we can and should do in matters of life and death. In its own unique way, it could be described as a young adult version of The Bucket List with some unexpected twists.

After working with adolescents as a youth group volunteer and teaching at a public school for the past ten years, I feel connected to today’s young adults. I’m a member of SCBWI, YA-RWA, RWA-PRO and Southwest Florida Romance Writers. I read on the agency’s website that you are seeking realistic YA and I’m hoping my novel will be a good match for your list. As requested on your submission guidelines, I’ve pasted below the first five pages. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Advertisements
By jamieayres Posted in IWSG

19 comments on “IWSG

  1. After reading your query, I want to read the book – and to be honest I wouldn’t think there were too many similar books out there – maybe most this agent is more aware of them, but the reader might not be, and like you say, how many vamp books still continue too sell. Keep with it, you’ve got me hooked.

  2. Have a query contest and the floodgates open! That’s probably how I found your blog, too. I’m nosy and like to see people’s queries before I take the plunge myself.

    So, I really like the premise of your book. I grew up in west Michigan so I’m familar with Grand Haven 🙂 Any suggestions I have for your query are very minor, and based on info I’ve seen posted throughout blogosphere, query tracker etc:

    I would try to condense the second paragraph in half; if there’s a way to pare it down to just the essentials, getting right to the 18 things list. The first line of that paragraph could go and it would still work, for example.
    Here is my edited take on the last two: At 58,000 words, my contemporary YA, 18 THINGS, is like a young adult version of The Bucket List with some unexpected twists. (possibly clarify this – what type of twist, a mystery? Maybe some other added phrase to show why this is set apart like the other feedback you got suggests. I don’t think you need to say “coming of age story” or describe what it’s about any further.)

    (I’d remove the “feeling connected with young adults” part, because although I’m sure it helps you as a writer, it’s not an actual qualification. Keep the member ship stuff) I’m a member of SCBWI, YA-RWA, RWA-PRO and Southwest Florida Romance Writers. I read on the agency’s website that you are seeking realistic YA and I’m hoping my novel will be a good match for your list. As requested on your submission guidelines, I’ve pasted below the first five pages. Thank you for your time and consideration.

  3. Hi Jamie,

    I agree with T.F., definitely an interesting story I wouldn’t mind reading. Not that I’m anywhere near a pro in gauging these things (queries), but I kinda got stopped up a little near the end of the 2nd paragraph. I always read about how our queries should be somewhat in the same voice as our stories. I tinkered @ it a little so it sounded a little more fluid and younger. Hope it helps 🙂

    Seventeen-year-old Olga Gay Worontzoff’s biggest problem is her awful name (after her grandmothers, of course)…and not going to the prom with Conner, her best friend and secret crush since kindergarten. But when Conner gets struck by lightning during their sailing trip on Lake Michigan, Olga’s life loses meaning. As if feeling responsible for his death isn’t enough, all the girls at Grand Haven High–who also loved Conner–blame her too.

    Meanwhile, the sarcastic and nerdy girl who never missed a day of school is suddenly lost, replaced by someone with no will to get out of bed. And as Olga battles depression, her counselor suggests she write a List of “18 Things” she must complete the year of her eighteenth birthday as part of her therapy. After enlisting the help of her eager friends, Olga must fire-walk, try out for the cheerleading squad, break a world record and hardest of all, sail again. What she doesn’t count on is healing the lives of her friends while finding herself in the process. Now, it’s time to put into practice her List’s life lessons when Nate, a good friend who brings a hearty dose of fun to the list, complicates things by asking her out on a date. Olga will risk losing her true soul-mate forever while questioning whether life truly goes on.

  4. Listen up all you agents, publishers, writters people, etc. I’ve read her book and it’s as great as J.K. Rowling’s books maybe even better! But the query only makes it sound as good as Rick Roardan’s books. So you guys need to request her full and publish it. And you better hurry because this is good stuff I’m telling you. And later when she’s a NY best time seller and she says she almost quit because all the bad reviews you’ll know she almost quit because of you and you’ll have to live your life in guilt. So request her full today.

    -Kaylee critic, reviewer, amazing blogger, and expert at random things. You can reach me at http://Peaceloveandponcho.com

  5. Jamie,
    You are such an inspiration to me and so many others! Don’t ever give up your dreams because they will come true because you’re heart and passion are truly what drives you!! You inspire your children to go for their dreams and you should feel so proud of them! They are truly the sweetest, polite and very respectful girls I’ve met at their age. Congrats Jamie!!! God has truly blessed you!

  6. Hi Jamie – Your book sounds awesome! There were just a few lines I think need to be reworded so they sound more “teenish.” i.e. Olga feels her life has no meaning – I can’t see a teenage girl saying it in those terms. Maybe – Olga hits bottom.

    The line “life truly does go on” is a bit cliched and doesn’t sound YA to me.

    I don’t know if I would even mention Nate – just state that Olga needs to take risks.

    LOVE the analogy to The Bucket List.

    Best of luck Jamie! I want to read this when it’s published. 🙂

    Debbie

  7. Thanks everyone! These are AWESOME suggestions . . . where were you a month ago, lol. Of course I had my people look over it, but perhaps my people have heard the story so much it’s hard to pick up on things such as these.

    Oh, you can probably guess that the ‘hard critic’ is my daughter, lol:)At least I have 1 fan!

  8. Good work on this, Jamie! I haven’t gotten anywhere near writing a query yet, but it is always good to read some of them, to get an idea of how they work.

    I would definitely read this book. I live near Lake Michigan, (Chicago) and I love sailing!

  9. I agree with some of the others about tightening the 2nd paragraph up a bit.

    I love your honesty in your post!

    You might be interested in the Lyrical Press contest. See today’s post at Miss Snark’s First Victim.

    Hoping good things for you.

  10. Hey Jamie! Well, instead of trying to tell you what to do, I just tightened everything up and reduced your word count. This is what I ended up with:

    “Seventeen-year-old Olga Gay Worontzoff thinks her biggest problems are an awful name and not going to the prom with Conner, her best friend and secret crush since kindergarten. But while out sailing together, Conner is struck by lightning and killed, and Olga feels responsible. All the love-struck girls at school blame her, too—even her friends.

    Now the sarcastic, nerdy girl who never missed a day of school is lost, unwilling to even to get out of bed. To help battle depression, her counselor suggests a plan: compile a list of eighteen quests to be completed during her eighteenth year.

    All she has to do now is fire-walk, try out for cheerleading, break a world record, and, hardest of all, sail again. While Olga’s goal is to find herself, what she doesn’t count on is helping her heartbroken friends heal, as well. But life gets complicated when her good friend, Nate, asks her out on a date. In order for Olga to practice what her life lessons have taught her, she must risk her own heart, but if she fails, she might lose her true soul-mate forever.

    At 58,000 words, my contemporary YA, 18 THINGS, is a coming-of-age story about life and death, acceptance and friendship, and most of all, love. It’s a young adult version of The Bucket List with some unexpected twists.

    As a youth group volunteer and teacher for the last ten years, I am well-connected to today’s youth. I’m a member of SCBWI, YA-RWA, RWA-PRO and Southwest Florida Romance Writers. (Personalize each query here.) Thank you for your time and consideration.”

    Good luck with your querying. It’s hell out there, but there is a place for you and your novel!

  11. Hi Jamie,

    I love the concept! You also have good voice in your query and I get solid sense of the plot. The only problem is it’s way too long. 🙂 You need to cut about 100 words. I have made some cuts below, just as a suggestion.

    P.S. In my opinion, you should not give up after 15 queries. Send another batch of 15. Then maybe even another batch of 15 if you’re still getting requests. In my experience, it’s hard to truly target agents. You should target the best you can, but tastes are so subjective, you should cast a wider net. Especially since you did get positive response. Even if 15 queries didn’t get you representation, you got requests, which means you’ve got something and shouldn’t give up yet!

    Seventeen-year-old Olga Gay Worontzoff thinks her biggest problems are an awful name and not going to the prom with her best friend Conner. But when Conner is struck by lightning during their sailing trip on Lake Michigan, Olga’s life loses meaning. She feels responsible for his death, and all the girls at Grand Haven High who also loved Conner have no difficulty in blaming her, too.

    The sarcastic and nerdy girl who never missed a day of school is suddenly lost, replaced by someone with no will to get out of bed. As she battles depression, her counselor suggests she write a list titled “18 Things.” She must complete eighteen quests the year of her eighteenth birthday as part of her therapy. Now all she has to do is fire-walk, try out for the cheerleading squad, break a world record and hardest of all, sail again. What she doesn’t count on is acting as a catalyst for healing in the lives of her friends and finding herself in the process. Then Nate, a good friend who brings a hearty dose of fun to the list, complicates things by asking her out on a date. It’s time to put into practice the lessons her life list has taught her. Life truly does go on. She must risk her own heart, but if she fails, she risks losing her true soul-mate forever.

    At 58,000 words, my contemporary YA, 18 THINGS could be described as a young adult version of The Bucket List with some unexpected twists. I’m a member of SCBWI, YA-RWA, RWA-PRO and Southwest Florida Romance Writers. I read on the agency’s website that you are seeking realistic YA and I’m hoping my novel will be a good match for your list.

  12. I don’t know Jamie, I don’t ever get tired of Bucket List ideas. They give me warm fuzzies and I’m all about that. I think your query shows the struggle, self discovery and the ultimate will to move on. I would totally read it.
    I don’t think you should beat yourself up about the querying thing. I think you have a pretty great percentage of requests for fulls so I’d say your query is doing great. Now you just need that one agent who will snag it. I believe he/she is out there. So don’t give up:)
    BTW, you rock! I am so happy that people are seeing how great you are and you jumped up a 100 followers so quick!

  13. Here’s what I’m figuring out: Even if you get a million requests for Fulls or Partials, the rejections still hurt. Not that I’ve received a million requests, but I’ve done pretty good with this current WIP and the rejections still make me say, “Wait, did you not read my query well enough? Were you in a bad mood? How could you reject me??”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s