Tag Archives: query letters

#WritingTips No, Reading Is Not An Option.

17 Feb

As an author and full-time editor, I’m coming across more and more writers who don’t read their own genre, or—even worse—don’t read at all. There are generally two types of these writers.

1. Writers who claim to read but obviously don’t (and I’ll get to how it is obvious later).

2. Writers who haven’t read anything since they left high school twenty years ago.

Spoiler Alert: Neither of these options is okay.

Writers, please, oh please, you must read—and you must read often, especially in your own genre. As the famous Stephen King once said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.” I adamantly agree with him.

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Reading is the foundation of writing. Much like how crawling helps a child learn how to walk, then run, and so on, reading helps a writer learn how to form sentences, structure a plot, and introduce something new and interesting to the market. That last one is a big deal (and I think the most overlooked one). This is also the main way agents/publishers/readers figure out you’re lying if you claim to read but you don’t. Recently, I was reading an article from an agent who was talking about his number one pet peeve in query letters. There is a huge trend in writers saying, “My work is better than anything X genre has ever produced.” This signaled to him that A. You don’t read X genre, and B. You don’t respect your own genre, fellow co-workers, or your readers. So why are you writing in this genre? He’s not the only one with this opinion either. Another article by Writer’s Digest pokes fun of this trend: 10 Ways to Never Get Published.

Constantly reading allows you to familiarize yourself with the genre and to see how the genre grows. As an example, I’ve seen MAJOR changes in young adult since I was fourteen. (And they are awesome changes!) But if I had stopped reading YA when I started seriously writing it, I wouldn’t know what readers are looking for. I wouldn’t know what has been done already. I wouldn’t know the appropriate language, word count, or topics/themes for that audience. I, basically, wouldn’t know anything. I wouldn’t have those “tools” Stephen King talked about in regards to writing.

So pick up a book. Pick up five. Try a new one, try an old one, try one you never thought you’d read, research the latest releases, talk to authors in your genre, study Writer’s Digest and Publishers Marketplace, and stay up-to-date on publishing conversations like #MSWL. Even if you’re not trying to get an agent or publisher, publishing feeds are great (and easy) places to read about current trends and market needs.

You’re not losing writing time by reading. In fact, you’re enhancing your writing by reading.

So go pick up that book you’ve been dying to read and fall back in love with reading all over again. After all, reading is the reason you started writing in the first place. Reading is why every writer started writing. Reading is why every writer can write.

~SAT

Have you checked out this amazing gift basket Clean Teen Publishing is giving away this month? It has over $130 worth of goodies including a Kindle Fire, several print novels, sweets, swag, and more! Enter to win here.

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If you would like a signed copy of any book in The Timely Death Trilogy, e-mail me at shannonathompson.com. Barnes & Noble in Wichita has a few copies left, and they will ship you one.

Minutes Before Sunset: book 1: FREE 

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Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2:

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Death Before Daylight: book 3:

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This THURSDAY, I will host #AuthorinaCoffeeShop Episode 7 on Twitter at 7 PM (CDT) via @AuthorSAT. I normally host it on Friday, but a few of you have expressed Thursday as a better day, so I will probably test out the next four episodes (7-10) on Thursday to see which days are best. I hope to see you there!

Writing Tips: How to Handle Rejection

26 Feb

Quick Update: My author page is now on Facebook. Please support me by clicking here. You’ll get the latest updates, and my current status has a surprise that isn’t on my website yet! I’m REALLY excited, so check it out, and you’ll get an advantage on other readers when I offer an upcoming competition ;]

Rejection is everywhere: we break up, we get fired, we lose friends—and we survive them all—yet, when our art is rejected, many feel completely defeated, and they never get out there again. This saddens me. This is how art dies.

Rejection happens to everyone, and, if it hasn’t already, it will happen to you—but you cannot let criticism get you down.

In terms of the writing industry, many writers, professional or not, already know about the long-hated query letter. My favorite metaphor for writing one is the ballerina having to explain why she can dance instead of showing off her abilities. However, whether we like it or not, we have to face the reality of the query eventually.

In the future, I plan on posting about how to write an effective one, but there are plenty of posts like that out there. Instead, I wanted to share one of my favorite blogs that handles rejection: Rejection Love Letters (Or How to Lose Agents and Alienate Publishers)

John Tompkins is a writer trying to get his book published. Currently, he’s sent out 93 queries, and he’s received 36 rejections—all of which are scanned for fellow readers and writers to see. Not only is this brave, but it’s encouraging. I say this because Tompkins does something I’ve never seen done before: he translates the rejection letters into a love rejection, causing the normally petrifying letters to morph into humorous material.

For instance, “Love Letter #28” is a rejected letter he titles, “In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m calling this one: If I’m not busy, I’ll call you.

Immediately, I’m in a fit of laughter, but I’m also astounded by Tompkins ability to shift rejection into humorous determination in order to move forward. This attitude is one of the most positive things I’ve seen from a writer in a long time. It’s a beautiful way of looking at an aspect of the publishing industry where many lose themselves.

So—in terms of this—I find John Tompkins to be a wonderful and daily reminder of how to be positive about something that can be extremely upsetting. Perhaps you can think of query rejections like rejections of love—“Find someone who loves you just the way you are” (Love Letter #34)—and remain positive as you move forward.

As Richard Bach said, “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit,” and we can all learn from Tompkins’ positive perspective to continue moving forward in the journey of our successful dreams.

Never give up!

~SAT

This is just another hilarious example of his blog.

This is just another hilarious example of his blog. Check it out if you’re feeling down or you just want to laugh. It’s also great to read if you’re feeling a little alone in the query letter madness.

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