This month has been CRAZY, but I thought I'd take a moment to do a post about what I learned from WriteOnCon (WOC)!
I'm sure most of you have heard about WOC, but if you haven't, it's an annual writers' conference that takes place online. There's a forum where people post synopses, chapters, and query letters for critique from fellow authors (and ninja agents!), as well as events and contests hosted by editors and other industry experts. There's also a blog with helpful tips on everything from marketing and finding a critique group to the writing process itself.
It's nice that everything is virtual, especially if you're like me and don't have time to fly to conferences around the country. (Next year, though, I'm planning on attending one in person! Maybe two!)
I didn't take advantage of all the WOC offerings, but I did put PPP's query letter up for critique. It was terrifying. I'm shy about sharing too much about my novels - whether it's on the internet or in real life - so this was a couple dozen steps out of my comfort zone... but I am so, SO glad I did it.
Everyone was extremely kind. Even if they had criticism, they always mentioned what they did like about the query. Most liked my title and premise, but wanted the punchline to be punchier. Some didn't like my word choices, but enjoyed the little blurb I had about myself and my experience. Some suggested that I mention Maud (Noelle's trainer) in addition to Noelle herself and her enemy, Jessica, while others preferred the spotlight on Noelle. And I had two people tell me that my letter was one of their favorites at WOC! One sweet gentleman (who admitted that my genre is decidedly NOT his cup of tea) said the query made him want to read the book regardless. Talk about a self-esteem boost, huh?
Even though I felt fairly confident about my query letter already, I'm even more so now that it has been expanded and polished. When you read a book jacket, the description is supposed to entice you to buy. A query letter is meant to do the same thing. Mine was much too sparse and vague before, and now it's a little bit juicier and - hopefully - more exciting.
Unfortunately, I didn't get any comments from ninja agents, which could mean that 1) the query is in good shape and the help I've gotten so far is enough, 2) they didn't like it enough to make a request, or 3) both 1 and 2. Or none of those. BUT, it was very, very exciting to see ninja agents visiting friends' queries!
I also participated in the Twitter-sized pitch event hosted by the editors of Entangled Publishing, who were extremely nice and knowledgeable. Writers submitted story pitches of 140 characters or less. There were over 150 entries, and mine was one of the lucky 50 that got selected for critique!
Alycia Tornetta was the editor who looked at mine, and she very kindly praised the title, pitch, and premise, which made me happy! No criticism either! Again, no request, but I'm feeling optimistic and positive about my story.
It sounds like PPP has the potential to appeal to readers, BUT I just need to find an agent (or editor!) who feels the same way :)
Again, I HIGHLY recommend this conference to anyone who lacks the time and/or money (don't we all?) to attend gatherings around the country. Although those should definitely be a priority one day, WOC is the next best thing. You're getting immediate feedback and exposure, and it's a good way to test the waters before querying OR just to improve your craft. AND it's all free.
When you have a moment, check out the blog or the forums. They are still up and you can glean some great advice and information.
I had a great time and would do this again in a heartbeat. Maybe next year, ELEGY will be up on the chopping block :)
Did you participate? What was your experience like? If not, are you thinking about doing something like this next year?
FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS (FOTL) (Novel, YA Epic Fantasy) An exiled princess searches for the five elements she needs to win the allegiance of the dragons and reclaim her kingdom from the grasp of an evil empress.