Looking for a 2020 #DVPit Mentee

A new decade, a new book deal, and I’d like to mentor someone again. If you’re interested, I hope you’ll read below and fill out the form at the bottom!

A little about me: I signed with Lauren Abramo of DG&B through the first DVPit, so this event has a special place in my heart. I was a Pitch Wars mentor and I’ve mentored four writers who are all agented now. Three have either book deals or books in print (and one forthcoming adaptation!). The last I hope will have great news soon!

What I can offer: I’m volunteering to do an edit letter, line-edits, then a last polishing round (if there’s time) for the right manuscript leading into April 2020’s DVPit. I’ll also work with you on your Twitter pitches and boost you. My apologies for not posting this in January, but I was swamped with life and deadlines.

Here’s what I’m looking for:

  • Someone who is a marginalized person (as defined by #DVPit). Preference goes to a POC and/or someone writing #ownvoices
  • Someone willing to do the work from mid February-until DVPit in April. I’ve guided my mentees through major overhauls, shifts/eliminations of POV, total changes in story-line, and smaller, finessing points of character arcs and plot points. I want someone who wants to grow as a writer, and can meet deadlines
  • Someone who has a young adult or adult manuscript and at least one critique partner. I’m not much use for middle grade.

Areas of interest: I’m best with contemporary, although light fantasy or very light sci-fi is fine. I like and write rom-coms. But I’m pretty open so long as it’s mostly contemp–surprise me!

I’m not your person for anything set in space, horror, or spy thrillers. I just don’t read enough in those categories to be of service. Same is also true for vampires, robots, flowery literary fiction, and pirates.

So that’s it. I’ll leave this open through February 14. If I’m interested in seeing more I’ll email you for a partial or full sometime before February 21. Let me know if you have any questions. I look forward to hearing from you!

DISCLAIMER: I won’t steal your ideas, but there’s a slim chance I’m working on something similar. If I am, I’ll tell you

Query Spreadsheets

Any time you query, but definitely after a pitch contest, you should keep a list of which agents you sent to, when, and their response. That way, once you get an offer of rep you’ll immediately know who still has material and who has passed. The easiest, sexiest way is a spreadsheet.

There are services that will keep track of your queries (ex: querytracker), but I preferred to just have a table in Word.

What you need in:

  • Agent name and agency name
  • Date they favorited if it was a pitch contest
  • Date you sent the query
  • Date they replied
  • Date you sent a partial
  • Date they replied
  • Date you sent a full
  • Date they replied
  • Notes

I liked to color-code mine because I’m cool like that. Green for requests, red for rejections, orange for R&Rs. That way I could take a quick, visual scan and see what was outstanding. When I got an offer of rep, I sent to everyone who hadn’t replied yet–not just the agents who had fulls–my email that I had an offer.

You might also want to note: email addresses, nudges if any, and whether a no response means a rejection somewhere in there.

Good luck!

The Seven Week Draft

Happy Super Belated New Year! It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I’ve been busy selecting a DVPit mentee and less fun things like the flu.

I thought I’d do my first post of the year on how to draft a manuscript in seven weeks. Hopefully, it’ll help some of you who are struggling to complete a project or have a new one in mind.

So, okay, why 7 weeks?

70,000 words is a good target goal for Adult or YA, generally.

Note: the goal will vary depending on category and genre. And also if you’re a chiseler (draft heavy and then slim down) or a painter (start with a sketch and build up in revisions). Know the word count guidelines. Love the word count guidelines. It will save you heartache in the long run. Here’s a good one.

I find that 7 weeks keeps me immersed in the story and voice of the characters. I get out a draft. I clean it later.

And now for math:

70,000 words breaks into 10,000 words per week (take that, college calculus). That’s under 1,500 words a day. 1,428 to be exact. I find this to be a workable goal… usually.

How to get 1,500 words/day

Aiming for 1,500+ words a day will give you 2+ days off in those 7 weeks. Of course, 1,500 words can be a big ask if you’re staring at Twitter. So,

  • Break it down into multiple sessions. 500+ words in the morning or at lunch suddenly gives you a goal of 1,000 at night.
  • The easiest way to get word count is writing sprints. Never heard of it? You and another writer decide to write without distraction for a short period of time. Say you start at 8:00pm, you give your starting word count, close out of everything but your WIP, write, and then check in at the agreed time with your ending count. I find 30 minute blocks most useful. Repeat until done.

There’s something about having an accountabil-a-buddy that makes you focus. Plus it’s embarrassing to admit that you got 17 words because you were looking up lyrics to Havana.

How can you find someone to sprint with? Twitter is great because there’s always someone who should be writing. Just tweet out that you’re looking to sprint. Chances are you’ll get a taker.

Rereading/editing as you go

I hate having a garbage first draft, so I tend to reread/edit the last chapter or section I worked on the previous day. I find this keeps revision to a decent level… usually.

That’s it. Remember to reward yourself at the end because finishing a book is an amazing thing. And then to let it rest for a MONTH before you look at it again. Seriously, you’ll catch so much more in revision if you let your MS rest for 4+ weeks, read other work, and then go back to it.

Looking for a DVPit Mentee

[1/31/2018 Final update: Thank you so much to everyone who applied. There were so many amazing concepts and samples that I was able to select material based on whim- which happened to be lighter, funnier manuscripts for the most part. If I did not request pages it’s no reflection on you, just personal choice at the time. Thank you for making this choice so very difficult and I wish you all the best going forward. You did an amazing thing- you wrote a book!]

As we wrap up 2017, I’m looking ahead to 2018–specifically, the next DVPit. I’d like to mentor someone again. If you’re interested, I hope you’ll read below and fill out the form at the bottom!

A little about me: I signed with Lauren Abramo of DG&B through the first DVPit, so this event has a special place in my heart. I was a Pitch Wars mentor and read for a DVPit participant. All three super-talented ladies are now agented. One has a three-book deal.

What I can offer: I’m volunteering to do an edit letter, line-edits, then a last polishing round (if there’s time) for the right manuscript leading into April 2018’s DVPit. I’ll also work with you on your Twitter pitches and boost you.

Here’s what I’m looking for: 

  • Someone who is a marginalized person (as defined by #DVPit). Preference goes to a POC and/or someone writing #ownvoices
  • Someone willing to do the work from late January-early April. I’ve guided my mentees through major overhauls, shifts/eliminations of POV, total changes in story-line, and smaller, finessing points of character arcs and plot points. I want someone who’s wants to grow as a writer, and can meet deadlines
  • Someone who has a young adult or adult manuscript and at least one critique partner. I’m not much use for middle grade.

Areas of interest: I’m best with contemporary, although light fantasy or very light sci-fi is fine. I like and write domestic suspense and romance. But I’m pretty open so long as it’s mostly contemp–surprise me!

I’m not your person for anything set in space, horror, or spy thrillers. I just don’t read enough in those categories to be of service. Same is also true for vampires, robots, flowery literary fiction, and pirates.

So that’s it. I’ll leave this open through January 1, 2018. If I’m interested in seeing more I’ll email you for a partial or full sometime between Jan 1 and Jan 15. Let me know if you have any questions. I look forward to hearing from you!

[Update 1/3/18: well, I’m floored by the response. I’ll start wading through as soon as I can but there were close to 40 applications]

[Update 1/25/18: due to vacation and lovely oral surgery I’m slightly behind schedule with reading/requesting]

 

Multiple Offers of Rep

Hurray!!! An agent asked you for The Call. It went well and they want to represent you! You are on the verge of leveling up! This is big! This is huge. Pop the champagne! You’ve made it.

You send your emails letting all the other agents know, yes? See here. And now you wait out your week or two.

But then… another agent gets back to you. They set up a call. And lo and behold: they offer rep! *I too have a gift for the child, Maleficent gif*

Then another agent. And so on and so forth.

It may feel great—it should! It’s amazing. In your time in the trenches you probably hoped for one yes, any yes. But multiple offers are also nerve-wracking, anxiety provoking, and semi-nauseating. *Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems gif*

And complaining to your agent-less friends is like whining about your tiara messing up your hair. That’s a no-go. But agented friends might not have received multiple-offers. So, now what?

Come pull up a seat. I got you.

Last year, I received four offers. It doesn’t matter who. And that’s important—whether you have one offer or seventeen, you wind up in the same spot. Your worst case scenario is you will have an agent. So let go of that breath you didn’t know you were holding and here are some things to consider as you make your choice.

Assuming you did your research pre-query (see How to Find a Good Agent TM if not), they’re all agents you’d accept. Here’s what I found mattered to me and friends who wound up in this spot. *Choose wisely gif*

Vision—Super important. Do they match your ideas for not just this book, but your career? How do they treat clients who don’t sell their first manuscript? (This happens A LOT). Do your communication and editorial preferences blend? If you don’t know the answer to these, ask for a second call. That’s always fine.

Reputation—also important. What kind of relationships does their agency have with editors? Are they respected in the industry? Do their clients idle on sub or go to the top of the pile? Ask around privately. This is a business relationship. You’re not auditioning a CP. Selling is what matters at the end of the day.

References—I cannot tell you how much this matters. Maybe you think: eh, they all say good things. NO, THEY DO NOT. First, a client may be quietly disgruntled. *Run away, gif* Second, there is a huge difference between *Drake shrug emoji gif* and *I would die for Riley, gif*. You want the latter. ALWAYS see if you can get the references on the phone. Most people can put together a decent email, but they’re more honest on a call. Ask for a client reference who has NOT sold yet. If they’re reluctant to give on: major red flag. ***When on a call with a reference make sure to ask: What don’t you like about working with them? What would you change if you could?***

Gut feeling—the last intangible. Super important but usually you can narrow it down to two who have met all of the above criteria. Toss a coin and see who you’re hoping for on the way down. You’ll usually know before it hits the floor.

Don’t forget: tell the agents your response BEFORE your post about it on social media. No one wants to find out they’re rejected on Twitter.

Don’t know what to say? Here’s a template:

Dear [Agent],

Thank you so much for reading my work and for your offer of representation. I appreciate both your time and vision for the project. I’m so honored that you want to work with me. I did, however, decide to go in a different direction [you can add that it was the original offering agent if you want]. I wish you all the best in the future.

Sincerely,

Good luck and congratulations!!!