Thursday, February 25, 2010


How good are you at following instructions?

Before beginning this quiz, find a piece of paper, a pencil, and a yellow marker. Then read all of the instructions.

- Write your name in the upper, right-hand corner of the paper
- In the middle of the page, draw a horizontal line

- Draw a shorter, vertical line that intersects the horizontal line (you should have a cross or 'T' shape now)

- In the upper, left-hand quadrant, draw a square

- Draw a circle inside of the square

- Color the circle yellow

- In the upper, right-hand quadrant, write the name of your best friend

- Circle the name of your best friend

- In the lower, left-hand quadrant, draw a smiley face

- In the lower right-hand quadrant make a check mark

- Do not write anything on your paper, and next time read and follow all of the instructions before beginning!

It's a silly quiz, I know! But the point is that reading and following directions is an important skill.

When it comes to sending out queries, reading the instructions is crucial. It's no fun for us writers! But, as literary agent Rachel Gardner points out in her blog, there are reasons for these guidelines. Queries that don't follow the guidelines often end up in the trash.

Writers who can read and follow directions will put themselves way ahead of those who don't!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Creative Byline

Like any author eager to get her work published, I'm always open to exploring new avenues that might give me more exposure. The other day, I was introduced to a new one of those new avenues. It's a website called Creative Byline.

According to the website, Creative Byline purports to, "[provide] online submission management services for publisher and writing contests." That is, they work like a writing version of - hooking up writers like me with editors who will love my manuscripts.

H-m-m...color me skeptical.

But, what the hay, Like I said, I'm always up for a new way to knock on those publishers' doors. So I thought I'd give Creative Byline a try.

The nice thing about Creative Byline is that it does offer some of its services for free. You can, for example, create a profile of yourself (one that highlights your published work, if you have any) and then submit up to ten projects for editors to look at.

So far, I've uploaded two. It is a lot of work (not because the website is difficult, but because writing a query and an outline and a synopsis is always a real pain in the fanny), but since I'd be doing this very same work anyway if I were querying the old-fashioned way, it really is no extra effort.

Now that I've uploaded my professional information and my two projects, all I need to do is sit back and wait for a flood e-mails from editors eager to see my work.

Yeah, right. Again, color me skeptical.

In addition to Creative Byline's few free services, it also offers some paid ones as well. If you are willing to shell out roughly $100 a year, you can contact editors instead of waiting for them to find you. Also, C.B. offers some kind of service in which they provide feedback to authors about their writing.

I'm not paying the extra money for those services, but because I will be attending the
Calvin College 2010 Festival of Faith and Writing this spring, I was given a special promotional deal with Creative Byline which allows me to link directly to editors and publishers who will be at this same conference. I'm curious to see if I'll get any interest.

When it comes to publishing, I don't believe in shortcuts. Nor do I think there's a quick or easy way method to get a contract with a six-figure advance (if there was, I would have found it by now!) So I admit that I am very skeptical that paying Create Byline a hundred dollars will do anything but make me 100$ poorer.

But on the other hand, I'm practical. Not to mention a little desperate. And since some of the services offered by Creative Byline are free, then I'm willing to at least give it a try.

I don't expect to have an in-box overflowing with offers. But I'm still keeping my fingers crossed.

Just in case.