Thursday, August 14, 2014

Query Trenches Part II: Resources

by Katy White

In my last post, I talked about the importance of querying in traditional publishing. Today, I want to share a few additional resources that I used during my time in the query trenches. If you're looking to make your work really shine, check these out.

First Five Pages Workshop - From their site: "Our monthly First Five Pages Workshops begin the first Saturday of every month. We accept the first five middle grade or young adult manuscripts received by email starting at noon. (The moderators) work alongside a guest mentor to tell you what we see in those first five pages with respect to your voice, plot, characters, setting, pacing and writing in general. Depending on the mentor's schedule, they may comment only on your initial entry, on the initial entry and one revision, or on all subsequent revisions. You'll also get feedback and comments from your peers, and have the opportunity to post two revisions, so you'll end up the strongest possible start."  

I entered this workshop for another manuscript, and it later ended up winning a contest based on my first page! Although I eventually decided to shelve that novel, the advice and insight I got from this experience was crucial in making my next novel stand out, from the first five through to the last five. If nothing else, look at the archives, comments, and the growth of those entries over the weeks. It's really eye-opening!

Pitch Contests - Once you have a tight query, killer opening pages, and a generally clean, strong manuscript, consider online pitch contests like Pitch Madness, #PitMadPitch Slam, and #PitchMas, among others. In these contests, you usually have 140 characters (Twitter) or 35 words (if it's through a blog/website) to condense your MS, then typically your include your first 250 words. You need to make your pitch and opening enticing, interesting, and utterly unputdownable. If you make it past the judges, agents and even publishing houses make requests to see anything from a query to your full MS! Even if you don't make it, though, seeing the entries that make it helps you understand how to polish yours. For a more beginning-to-end pitch contest, be sure to check out Pitch Wars, where a mentor will read your entire MS and give you advice to make it as pretty as can be for agents.

The Writer's Voice - This contest is a "multi-blog, multi-agent contest hosted by some writers who are really well known in the writing community for all the help they provide aspiring authors. The hosts serve as coaches, critiques, and mentors during the course of the contest. They select multiple projects for their teams based on entrants' queries and first pages and help make each entry as strong as it can be for the agent round.

These are only a few of the fabulous helps you can find from the writing community. If you know of more, please include those in the comments below!


  1. These are AWESOME resources. THANK YOU!!!

    Julie Coulter Bellon used to do a First Page Fridays over on her blog, and she had an anonymous industry professional known only as Ms. Shreditor (is that not the most perfect name for such a person?) critique first pages. I think she stopped doing it because there wasn’t enough interest, but I’ll have to check into it again.

  2. Very good info. I will definitely be looking into these.

  3. Whoa, great ideas. Thanks for sharing these!



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