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Author Topic: Writers' Organizations
Natej11
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So I am gearing up to begin my full court press to get my newest book published. I figure I'll go the agent route this time and begin sending out queries.

The only problem I have with my queries is credentials. Most of my focus has been on my own writing and the publishing aspect has always been a bit intimidating. I've sent out a few manuscripts to top publishing firms and gotten a couple good responses but no bites, but not much more than that. I've heard short story contests/publications is a good way to get your name out there, but I can't bring myself to write short. All my efforts become novels.

So basically my credentials part of the query would be a huge empty blank. On the other hand I was looking through an agent's blog yesterday and she mentioned that a great way to boost your credentials is to be a part of writing organizations specific to your book's genre. Does anyone have any insights into this? I wouldn't even know where to begin joining those kinds of organizations.

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History
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What did she say exactly?
It comes down to: What are you qualififications in writing your story?"

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Of America (SFWA) is such an organization, but their membership criteria are three $50 + professional short story sales (the eligible markets are listed on thier website) or professionally published novel [http://www.sfwa.org/join-us/who-is-eligible/]. I suspect this is similar for other genre writing associations.

I've only attempted the agent query process once, and briefly, recognizing I needed more writing experience and knowledge of the "business" of traditional publishing beyond mere magazine submissions. While being already published is an advantage, it doesn't replace a great story and great writing. Also, past publications need be relevant--i.e. my professional medical journal publications don't help support my submission as a fantasy writer unless my story is related to my profession.

The latter seemed key, though particularly for non-fiction submissions. If you are an expert or have experience (even life experience--e.g. my family includes Holocaust survivors) and your story is built on these, you should mention this in your query.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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Meredith
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You really can leave the credetials part of the query blank. I do. I've gotten several partial and full requests nevertheless.

What I don't seem to be able to do--yet--is to get from the request to the offer of representation.

Maybe THE BARD'S GIFT will be the one. [Smile]

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MartinV
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quote:
Originally posted by Natej11:
I've heard short story contests/publications is a good way to get your name out there, but I can't bring myself to write short. All my efforts become novels.

Good god, it's like listening to myself. [Wink]
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MAP
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I've read many agent blogs and all of them have said that credentials aren't that important. You don't have to have any. What sells them is the story.

It's okay to leave that part blank.

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extrinsic
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That fourth part of a query, after the pitch-line part, after the brief synopsis part, after the context and texture part, is a biographical note. If credentials are relevant to the work, include them. Otherwise, share a surprising bit of personal information, something relevant that excites a reader's curiosity for the larger work.

Spend vacations prospecting for uranium? Deep sea diving with giant squids? Restoring county poor houses? Investigating hazardous waste dumping into waterways? These kinds of credentials, if they're relevant, put them in.

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Natej11
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quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
That fourth part of a query, after the pitch-line part, after the brief synopsis part, after the context and texture part, is a biographical note. If credentials are relevant to the work, include them. Otherwise, share a surprising bit of personal information, something relevant that excites a reader's curiosity for the larger work.

Spend vacations prospecting for uranium? Deep sea diving with giant squids? Restoring county poor houses? Investigating hazardous waste dumping into waterways? These kinds of credentials, if they're relevant, put them in.

Blank bio it is [Smile] .

Thanks for the advice so far everyone. I understand the first attempts will be more valuable for learning than for actual success (unless I get lucky or my story is good enough). But with any luck I'll find someone to represent me before I run out of agents to ask.

[ January 24, 2013, 10:32 PM: Message edited by: Natej11 ]

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Natej11
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So straying from the topic of writer organizations...

I was looking through the site and didn't see any specific place for discussing queries or offering them up for critique. If it's not out of place and anyone has a bit of free time, I have very little experience writing them and would be grateful if anyone out there who has a general idea of what they look like could read through mine and give their impression.

I'd be glad to return the favor, inexperience in queries aside [Smile] .

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MAP
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You can post your entire query in the Fragments and Feedback for Books section.
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Natej11
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Oh right, silly me.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Link to a list of dos and don'ts for query letters.
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