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Why Did I Get a “No”? – The Dos and Don’ts of Query Letter Writing

Today’s guest post is by Trident Media Group literary agent Mark Gottlieb.

As a literary agent in major trade publishing at the Trident Media Group literary agency, I often have to explain the elements of a good query letter to new clients. This post is intended as a description of what goes into a good query letter, for new authors unfamiliar with what literary agents and editors are looking for in a query letter intended the book-publishing world.

For a writer who might be currently querying literary agents, or even contemplating that process, this might be helpful reading. Considering the high rejection rate in the book-publishing industry for writers trying to become debut authors, this article will, hopefully, be enlightening for the countless writers who are experiencing rejection due to a poorly constructed query letter.

A lot of authors dread writing query letters. I know many authors who can write a novel in a matter of months but who could endlessly spend years toiling over writing a query letter. My advice to authors along the querying process is to really nail the writing of that query letter.

A query letter that reads well is usually a good indication to the literary agent that the manuscript will similarly read well, inclining the literary agent to request a manuscript. Often the query letter can go on to become the publisher’s jacket copy, were the publisher to acquire the manuscript via the literary agent. Continue Reading…

How to Hack Your Way to Writing Productivity

Today, the word hack has taken on a different meaning than what it used to mean. Previously, when you hacked into something, it usually involved an ax or sledgehammer. Something that would cause some serious damage.

We’ve also heard about people who hack or break into computer systems.

But there’s a different kind of hacking that’s helpful to writers, and in this case, hacking means a workaround. Finding a back door to slip in through.

When it comes to our brains, it helps at times to do a little hacking. We can be our own worst enemy when it comes to being productive. Bear with me on this. I’ll explain. Continue Reading…

How Writers Can Retrain Their Brain to Tune Out Distractions

Last week we started talking about distractions and how this era we live in has corrupted us. We are so easily distracted by tech, so it’s no wonder it’s so hard to get a good chunk of writing done. Not only is our time impacted by the countless distractions; the quality of our writing suffers.

I mentioned that Larry Rosen, PhD, a research psychologist and author of Disorder: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming Its Hold on Us says we rarely focus on and attend to any task for more than three to five minutes without getting distracted.

His advice? We have to retrain our brain to respond based on a set schedule rather than spontaneous cues (such as beeps and bells and pop-ups telling us someone or some app is sending us a message).

Easiest way to do this is to turn everything off. Continue Reading…