In April I finished writing my first complete novel. It is currently a little over 43,000 words and it is a fantasy fiction novel for Middle Grade readers. It was absolutely thrilling to write and I already have the story lines for books two and three for a potential series. Writing a novel in less than two months was a breeze (how? I don’t know) but writing a query letter that is less than a page seemed utterly daunting.
I had no idea where to start, so I did what any millennial would do and I Googled it. I found a lot of different outlines and how to’s and I came across a fantastic book coach, Jennie Nash, that specialized in that very thing. After a couple of emails with Jennie I learned that she would be speaking in a panel at Barnes and Noble that Saturday. I had to be there, so I went. The Panel Consisted of Jennie Nash, Jeff Garvin and Jonathan Yanez. As a furiously took notes on their key points I could feel adrenaline rushing through my body. I thought to myself, these are my people.
Jennie Nash knows her stuff, having been in the business for nearly 30 years. I loved her realistic take on the process of getting published. One of the best pieces of advice she gave was to make a list of the next seven books you buy and then write down why you bought them. “See what’s selling” she said and “Know your audience.” I introduced myself to Jennie after the panel was over and she said she’d be happy to look over my query. Say what?! I was thrilled.
Well the first book I bought since taking Jennie’s advice was Jeff Garvin’s Symptoms of Being Human, I’m already on chapter 6 and I am totally hooked (Rooting for you Riley). At the panel Jeff Garvin was a delight, witty, artistic and real all at the same time. I kind of love him. My top three favorite Jeffisms (as I’ve aptly named them) were; “Many people get mauled at the intersection of art and commerce.” So good right?! Second, “Celebrate everything, each little goal” and lastly pertaining to how his own creativity works to which I completely relate, “Creativity is a pilot light.” Totally brilliant man. I have to admit I got a little star struck, when that happens I either nervously fast-talk (word vomit) or become speechless. Luckily it was the latter and I politely introduced myself, thanked him and walked away with my dignity.
Jonathan Yanez is the most down to earth genius you’ll ever meet. During the panel Jonathan quoted Pablo Picasso, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” Words he seems to live by being the author of over a dozen novels (I want to be him when I grow up). I completely related to Jonathan’s creative process, fueled by caffeine and good music he sits down and writes up a storm because the story is already in his head. I was thinking “Me too, me too!” I spoke to Jonathan after the panel was over and he was so disarming and approachable. He answered all my questions and gave me his card and said he’d be happy to look over my query. I was floored.
This is why I love writers, they are real people and they care (well these three certainly do). I had such a great first experience at an author’s panel, it was a networking success. I now have a couple solid versions of my query letter and I feel like I can conquer the world…that is until I have to write a full synopsis.