Thursday, September 29, 2011

Breaking the Number ONE Rule to Querying & Doing It With Permission From Agents/Editors/Publishers!

The weeks leading up to August 3rd, 2011, I was a mess. Not because life was crazy, though it always is, but because I wasn’t ready to attend my first ever writing conference. It felt like a huge step to be networking with agents, editors and publishers who I dreamed of querying when my novel sparkled better than Edward Cullen on a summer day in Arizona.
Because the number one rule to querying is?
Yes, you got it: never query an unfinished manuscript.
And, sitting at halfway through my second draft, my novel wasn’t finished.
I felt like I’d failed myself, wasted a substantial amount of money, and blew the opportunity to pitch my novel to agents whom I have on my ‘dream list’.
With the encouragement and an assist prepping from Stephanie Loree, a friend and member of my writing group, I went with the intent to learn everything I could, take notes vigorously to share with others, and yes, even pitch my novel every at chance that presented itself.  
So multiple copies of my query letter, my three sentence “elevator pitch” ready and semi memorized, sample first pages, sample first five chapters, business cards, and frazzled nerves, I walked into the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference (PNWA)
And was greeted by 500 hopefuls such as myself. Seeing everyone just as nervous as me, helped calm my nerves, but I still felt like a traitor to our cause because my novel wasn’t finished.
Everything in me said ‘cancel the two appointments you have with your dream agents and let someone else with a finished novel have the chance’ but Steph wouldn’t hear of it. She pushed me to pitch, because cons are “a time to learn and hone your pitch/querying skills. Agents are there to give you guidance so when you’re ready to query, you nail it!”
So I kept my appointments.
One the second day of the con both the agents and the editors/publishers did separate panels to TELL us hopefuls what EXACTLY they are looking for RIGHT NOW. Afterward, someone asked the question that was killing me, and the question I wasn’t willing to ask myself, because I’m a chicken:
How do you feel about pitching an unfinished novel?
The response was unanimous from both panels:
PITCH IT NOW because we are here to TEACH you so when you’re ready to query you NAIL IT.
Steph is a genius (because she’s an avid con attendee and knows her shit when it comes to them.)
Writing Conferences are the ONLY place you can break the number one rule to querying, and do so with the permission from the people who open the doors to your career or keep them dead bolted shut: agents, editors and publishers.
Writing Conferences are stuffed full of opportunities, and I’ll be sharing my discoveries in the next few posts to come.
Happy Reading. Happier Writing.


Elliot Grace said...

...looking forward to the stories. (And by the way, I pitched mine when it was 2/3 of the way finished ;)


Jamie Manning said...

You left us hanging!! How did the pitches go? All positive I hope? =)

Sangu said...

GAH! After all that, how can you not tell us how the pitches went?? You're killing me! :-)

This was such a great thing to read. I never knew you could break That Rule at a con. Makes me all the more desperate to go to one!

Michael Di Gesu said...

Well, Jodi,

You FINALLY resurfaced. I did reply to your email and then NOTHING...

Don't you love me anymore? LOL.

I'm happy to see you back and will look forward to reading about your experience.

Now that summer is over it is time for me to get into gear with my novel. Oh, it's finished, but I need to query. Now I'm the chicken. LOL.

I'm waiting for some news before I dive into the icy waters.

I've missed you... don't stay away so long next time, okay?

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I have concerned with your absense. Life for me, of course, alternates between a Greek tragedy and a Mel Brooks film (sometimes both!)

As my mother used to point out, "Faint heart never won fair lady." And that truth can be applied to most of our dream pursuits.

Come visit my blog. You might win a KINDLE FIRE and other stuff.

I miss hearing from you, Roland

Stephanie M. Lorée said...

Jodi makes me sound cooler than I am. All I did was tell her not to punk out, or I'd never let her live it down.

But I am a genius, so my mother tells me.