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Once again I’m sharing some insights on constructing successful query letters. This week the focus is on clarity in your query, both in terms of your line-level writing and also in terms of conveying the meat of your story in a clear, concise way. Too often the important plot elements get bogged down in explanation, backstory, too much world-building, etc., so it’s important to really hone the focus of your pitch before querying. The most important things to convey in your query are the protagonist’s main goal, what’s keeping him/her from achieving it, and what’s at stake if he or she doesn’t succeed. If an agent can’t see this clearly, it will likely lead to a pass. To review the actual query letter and my critique, please visit the KT Literary blog!

I’ve been on the writing roller coaster for quite some time now, having started the draft of my very first book in Spring of 2010. After a cross-country move and a third kid, I picked things back up in 2013 and since then have enjoyed the highs of signing with an agent, the lows of deciding to part ways and realizing just how brutal the query trenches can be, getting into Pitchwars in 2015 (with that very first book no less, though there were a few written in between!), not getting an agent with that project, winning reputable contests with a couple different manuscripts, but still finding that perfect agent match to be quite the elusive beast. I’ve had dozens of manuscript requests, a healthy smattering of revise and resubmits, and more rejections than I care to admit. But that’s all part of the game. And that’s what I’m talking about today.

Controlling what you can. Your writing.

I’ve been at this long enough to know that sometimes it feels like The Day will never come. Whether you’re waiting for an offer of representation or an offer from a publisher on your project, it often feels like the stars are aligning for everyone else and the Universe has somehow misplaced the memo about the hard work you’ve done to level up your writing and hone your craft. And those thoughts can drag you down into the depths of despair (ok, being a little melodramatic here, but some days it really DOES feel that way!).

That’s when you have to shift your focus to the ONE THING you can control. Your writing. All along this path to publication, and even after your babies are out in the world, there will be ups and downs. Your revisions aren’t quite there yet and there will be no offer of rep. Your agent moves to a new agency and has to trim his/her list, leaving you behind. Your editor leaves and your project is suddenly homeless. Your sales aren’t strong and a particular house may not want your next project. At every turn, there’s the possibility for setbacks.

One of my dearest CPs always says to me, this is a lifestyle choice. You have to take the good and the bad and focus on what you can control. Put your heart on the page and tell the best story you can. And keep doing that until YOUR stars align. Eventually, they will.

Several years ago I met a slew of writers through an online writing conference called WriteOnCon. We bonded and decided to band together, initially starting a facebook group. Well, that group has evolved-some have gone on to secure book deals, agents, and all of us have reaped the benefits of group support.

We’ve also decided to share our knowledge, writing tips, and love of books with others by launching our new site – The Winged Pen. Come visit us today and enter to win a copy of OUT OF ABATION Book 1: THE WOODEN PRINCE by John Claude Bemis! Be sure to subscribe so you can reap the benefits of all that writerly knowledge, too!