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Monday, December 28, 2009

What I've learned in 2009, Part 1

I've never made the mistake of wearing two different shoes, but I've made plenty of others. I'm posting a little late today because my internet has been down. Go figure. It's my first day back to blogging, and my internet doesn't work. Anyway, I'm glad to be back. I missed all my blog friends, and I look forward to catching up with you today. Before my break, I was posting about contradictions aspiring authors come across. I was going to pick up where I left off, but I've decided to spend this week recapping what I've learned in 2009 by re-posting some of my older material. The first lesson I learned this year was not to query too soon. Back in January, I sent out my first round of queries. Big mistake. I wasn't ready. My work wasn't ready. And, obviously, my query letter wasn't ready. Here's a post I did a while back about some of my query mistakes: I'm a night person and always have been. I hate mornings, and it usually takes at least three cups of coffee before I can function. My wake-up-at-the-crack-of-dawn husband just doesn't quite understand this, but we manage to get along anyway. At any rate, I often find myself querying after midnight. Apparently, my head isn't as clear as I think it is at night. Here are some of my late-night query mistakes: I sent three chapters in the body of an e-query to an agent whose guidelines specifically state: QUERY ONLY. I knew this, but I meant to send the query to a different agent. I indicated that I was enclosing a SASE for the agents response in an e-query. It's kind of hard to send an envelope with an email, wouldn't you say? In my defense, when I checked the agency guidelines, they specifically asked for snail mail queries, but upon further investigation, I learned that this particular agent preferred queries by email. So I copied and pasted my original letter from Word into an email. Unfortunately, I forgot to take the part about the SASE out. I sent five e-queries with the same typo. Keep in mind that I read, re-read, and re-read again without catching the mistake. That is, until I hit send on the last one. I addressed and e-query to someone named Mitchelle. Yeah, it was supposed to be "Michelle". Again, my midnight mind didn't catch it until the next morning. By the way, did I mention this query also contained the same typo discussed in the previous example? Now, here's one about a snail mail query. I enclosed an SASE or, actually, an SAE. Yes, I forgot to put a stamp on it. How do I know? Well, because I was out of stamps before I even wrote the query. Now, why I didn't realize it until after I went to the post office, bought stamps, put them on the query to mail, and stuck it in the drop box is anyone's guess. Apparently, my head isn't so clear in the morning either. So, what about you? Care to share any of your mistakes?

28 comments:

Tamika: said...

Mine aren't quite as plump and juicy, since I'm am too chicken to query yet. And my work is refusing to cooperate!

I love your honesty and I'm sure I'll have like instances soon enough! Glad to hear you enjoyed your break.

Natalie said...

I once emailed a query with the wrong name at the top. How do I know? She form rejected 5 minutes later and her name was right over the part where I addressed her as someone else! (She probably would have rejected it anyway, but I sure felt dumb!)

Karen said...

Welcome back!

I hope you had a great Christmas!

I haven't really made any mistakes because I still can't get my act together enough to even query yet. It's one of the things I WILL accomplish in 2010!

sherrinda said...

I'm too chicken to query. Actually, I'm too new to query. My work is not ready and I definitely am not ready! I'm still learning the craft and the ropes of this writing/publishing journey.

Mary said...

You're way a head of me - I'm still trying to finish my rough draft. But I do appreciate all the good advice on what to do and funny mishaps to avoid. Welcome back Susan - glad you got the internet up and running.

Margo said...

I completely admire your courage. I tend to err in the other direction - over analyzing and becoming paralyzed!

Catherine Denton said...

Once I switched my stories. I put them into the wrong envelopes. I realized it when I got the first one back. Thankfully, that editor was very understanding. The second one I never heard from. But yeah, I was horrified. Now I double check each one.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I think I've committed many of those same mistakes! Ugh! It's so frustrating, isn't it? :)

WhisperingWriter said...

I've made a lot of those same mistakes. It happens to the best of us.

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

My biggest one was querying too early for sure.

Amy Tate said...

Oh Susan, I've done that too! But at least we learned not to do it again. I learned so much through Elana's book and Chuck's seminar. 2010 is going to have all sorts of surprises, girl. I can't wait to read about all your upcoming success stories.

Girl in My Own World said...

I have not gotten to the query process yet, however I find this info to be very helpful. I miss my typos all of the time. Even when I edit them - I am like... "Am I blind?" lol. Great Post!!!!

MG Higgins said...

The publishing house's submission guidelines said to attach the manuscript to my query email. I sent the email without the attachment! The editor kindly emailed me back informing me of my oversight. I was so embarrassed and also delighted that he went out of his way to let me know. Of course, that was almost 7 months ago and I've not heard a thing since. Sigh.

BTW, welcome back!

Solvang Sherrie said...

I definitely queried too soon. And I have also mistakenly included chapters when it was supposed to be query only. I don't send them late at night anymore. I'm just too stupid after 10pm!

Corey Schwartz said...

Ha! Susan, I think that was the very first post of yours I ever read! (I even remember my comment, because i am queen of the typos! :)

Melanie's Randomness said...

Ohh it happens. I haven't sent any queries yet, knowing me I'll definitely have mistakes. I'll have to proofread & proofread til I'm blue in the face.

I've totally accidentally worn two different shoes at the same time, ironically people thought i was doing it on purpose =P

Welcome back!!

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Hey, Susan! Glad to see you back! I missed you!

I learned that lesson too this year. My story just wasn't ready. I think the biggest "oh my word, I did NOT do that" moment was when I noticed a typo in the first line of the sample chapters. :0)

Need More Words said...

I laughed when reading this but I haven't queried yet so I wonder what wonderful faux pas I will have when I start the adventure.
Thanks for sharing your embarrasing moments.
Diane

Bane of Anubis said...

I started querying too soon w/ a lackluster query. The 2nd round went better. The novel got some positive feedback, but, alas, was not up to snuff (though I'm not sure why -- which is doubly frustrating).

Dominique said...

I queried Way to soon on my first book, and when I started getting rejections, I didn't take enough time to think about what they might mean. And, yes, the query was quite lackluster.

lauraabest said...

I think we've all made mistakes from time to time. I know I have but it hasn't stopped me from being published and the same is true for everyone else. That said, it can be most embarassing when we do discover our mistakes.

You make a very important point here!!

Erica said...

I married a wake-up-at-the-crack-of-dawner too, and I'm a night owl! I haven't queried yet, but I've sent work emails without attachments before... Guess we'll find out when I start! We're only human...

Glad you're back :o)

The romantic query letter and the happy-ever-after said...

Biggest mistake of 2009 was waiting so long to start my blog.
Every happiness in the new year.

LAURA LEE GROVES said...

I sent a query to an agent in Arial (my favorite font) when he had a decided preference for Times (my least favorite font)! Fortunately, he liked the proposal, picked it up, and even reformatted it in Times for me before sending it out!

Amber Tidd Murphy said...

Thanks so much for sharing this. Your blog always seems so put together and well thought out that it is nice to know you are human!

I haven't queried yet, but when I do, I will try to remember to triple check everything.

The idea of just keeping track of WHO I query already feels akin to saving receipts for tax time.

Lisa said...

As far as shoes, I recently was on my way to the car for church when I realized I had on two different black pump shoes! I was in a hurry when I grabbed them from a dark closet. Luckily, I looked down at my feet because the sidewalk was snow-covered- so was able to run in and change them. I blame my husband because he was beeping for me to hurry. I can't believe I'm admitting this. As far as writing, I haven't yet sent anything out that I regret. I'll keep this in mind to check.

Robyn Campbell said...

You've had me in stitches girl. Just because at least now I know I'm not the only one. How about this one, have you ever mailed an e-query to an agency with the correct email address, but the wrong agency name at the top? YIKES! Now I'm just guessin' here, but I'd say there was a reason I never heard back from them.

Moral of this story. Hmmm, dunno. I will always make some mistakes. I just can't catch them all. Hopefully the agent that is destined to be my agent will have a sense of humor?? :0)

Glad your internet is back up. Can't live with it, can't live without it.

I hope your Christmas was beautiful and this IS our year! Woo-hoo

staceyjwarner said...

I'm looking forward to making my query letter mistakes...

I'm inspired.

much love