Trying to get in some quality writing or querying time right now? Here are some killer querying tips and writing advice from literary agent and author Ann Rose of Prospect Agency. Also, make sure you enter my giveaway on Instagram. Ann Rose will be giving away to one lucky winner a FREE query critique plus the first five pages of your manuscript!!!
ANN ROSE’S QUERY TIPS:
1. Check submission guidelines. I know this probably sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed how many people don’t follow guidelines, or who have obviously never even Googled “how to write a query letter”. I promise just by doing these two things you will already be ahead of the pack.
2. Get the agent’s name right. Again, might sound obvious, but in my time as an agent I’ve been called everything from Anne, Rose, To Whom it May Concern, Nothing at all, Peter, Michael, Mr. So-and-So, Agent, and I could go on and on. I suggest just using agent’s first names. That way you don’t misgender anyone. And just double check you’ve changed it from the last email you sent.
3. Don’t forget to tell us about your book. We really only need to know four things.
- Who is your MC?
- What do they want? (Goals)
- What stands in their way? (Obstacles)
- What happens if they fail? (Stakes)
Missing any one of these things can make the story feel flat, especially the stakes. If a character has nothing to lose, do you really have a story? And it doesn’t have to be—and the world will explode stakes—it just has to be—and character’s own personal world could explode—if that makes sense. Personal stakes are usually always more important that global ones.
4. Your TITLE SHOULD BE IN ALL CAPS. Think of it this way, you want it to stand out more than anything else. (Like comp titles; those go in italics.) Include your word count (rounded to the closest thousand—for example, 74,000) the genre, and if it applies the age group (if it’s kidlit).
5. Thank agents for their time. We read a ton of query letters. I average about 40 hours a month just reading queries, so the ones that say “Thank you for your time” always stand out to me.
ANN ROSE’S CRAFT TIPS: LET’S TALK WRITING
6. Flaws – Perfect characters are boring characters. This is usually why a lot of people always seem to gravitate toward liking the villain or antagonist because as writers we usually spend a lot of time giving them depth. They aren’t perfect, they have flaws, and even if they are wrong, they are fighting for what they believe in. Do the same for your main characters. A character fighting for “good over evil” still isn’t going to be right all of the time.
7. Pacing – A reason I pass on things a lot seems to do with the pacing of a story. Not starting in the right place, or just having scenes that don’t really move the plot forward in any meaningful way. Be critical of your own work and get other writers’ input (preferably writers in your age group/genre). Killing darlings is never fun, or easy, but sometimes it is necessary.
8. This is more personal but I’m going to mention it anyway –Don’t start with your character waking up. There is always going to be someone who says, “But my story is the exception” and just by saying that makes them the rule. I specifically say I’m not looking for this in my guidelines and still I get at least 2-3 that start this way in every 10 queries I read. So, you can only imagine how much other agents see it. It’s not that this opening can’t work, it’s that it is so commonly used the work isn’t going to stand out. And when an agent reads queries for 40+ hours a month you want to stand out. So just consider trying a different starting point and see what happens. You might surprise yourself.
9. Drafts – Don’t send your first draft. As much as you are excited to have finished writing a story, and want to get it out in the world before someone else beats you to it, I promise you it’s not ready. First drafts are what I call the writer telling themselves the story. Taking your time and getting feedback and editing will be more beneficial than jumping the gun. Don’t be afraid to set the book aside for a little while and give yourself some space from it. Have you ever gone back to look at a project you tabled from a year or so before? How much did you change as a writer? What did you learn since writing that project? I like to think we get better with each book we write. No words are ever wasted, they will always make us better. So don’t feel you have to rush it. Publishing works at its own speed anyway.
10. Out loud – Have your computer read your work back to you. Word has a built in “Speak” feature that allows you to highlight portions of your work and have it read to you. It’s amazing how much the brain compensates for things. Like a “for” being an “of” or a “definitely” being a “defiantly.” As the writer you know what it should say so you see it that way. A computerized voice no matter how flat and monotone only sees what’s actually on the page. It’s amazing what you’ll catch. “Did I really just use “door” five times?” The ear will catch things the eye will miss. So give it a try.
Go to File, Options, Quick Access Tool Bar – Select, All Commands – Scroll down to, Speak, — Add it – Press Okay. And you will find it added to your Tool Bar at the top of the page where you would look to press save for your document.
Ann Rose’s Books
Just like you guys, Ann is also a writer! She’s got two published books under the name A.M. Rose. She’s written the YA book ROAD TO EUGENICA, about a teen with superhuman abilities from another dimension on Earth who is being hunted for those very abilities.
Yesterday, Drea Smith couldn’t do anything spectacular—even walking and texting at the same time was a challenge. But today, she suddenly has more answers than Google, can speak and understand numerous languages, and she can fight. Like a boss.
Drea has no idea where her encyclopedic knowledge has come from, but she’ll take it when she discovers someone out there knows her secret and wants her badly. And that they’ve been searching for her since she was born.
Since she was created.
With the help of her best friend Dylan, who just wants to keep her safe, and Maddox, a mysterious new boy who is prepared to get her answers, Drea will have to push her new skills to their limit as she uncovers nothing is quite what it seems.
As she uncovers…Eugenica.
Ann Rose has also written the YA book BREAKOUT, about a group of teens who are forced to work together to try and escape an AI enforced prison, except, who do you trust when everyone is guilty?
That’s the amount of time until Lezah’s execution.
She’ll die never knowing what got her locked up in that godforsaken prison in the first place. Her only chance of survival is to escape. Except the monitoring bracelet that digs into her wrist, the roaming AI, and the implant in her neck make freedom close to impossible.
Her best chance is to team up with the four other inmates who are determined to break out, even if one of them is beyond gorgeous, annoying—oh, and in for murder. But he has a secret of his own. One that could break Lezah if she finds out, but could also set him free.
Figuring out how to work with him and the rest of this mismatched group of criminals is the only way Lezah will survive to see the outside world again.
But nothing in this prison is as it seems. And no one.
MORE ABOUT ANN ROSE:
Ann Rose has been exploring publishing by working and mentoring with literary agents in various capacities for the past few years. Everything she has experienced from editorial work to the magic of finding the perfect match between author and editor has hardened her resolve to join this wonderful profession. Now she’s thrilled to be building her own list and is actively seeking clients ready to grow amazing careers with her. Ann’s perfect manuscript is a character driven story that isn’t afraid to push boundaries. She loves an unlikable character — even though she is incredibly likable herself!
If you want to find out more about Ann, or what she’s looking for you can check out the Prospect Agency website – http://www.prospectagency.com/agent.html#ann_rose, or look for her #MSWL at https://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/mswl-post/ann-rose/
For submission, go to: https://www.prospectagency.com/submit.html
Make sure you include your query letter, the first 3 chapters (or 30 pages whichever is more) and a 1-2-page synopsis.
Ann is also scheduled to be at the Atlanta Writer’s Conference this year. You can find out more about it here: https://atlantawritersconference.com/
And if you are looking for general shenanigans you can follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/annmrose or occasionally she posts on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/A.M.RoseAuthor/
Or even more rarely she posts to Instagram, but is trying to get better https://www.instagram.com/totally_anntastic
SO WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT ANN ROSE’S ADVICE ABOVE? SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENT SECTION BELOW.
For more writing advice check out my interview with former literary agent and editor Amy Tipton.