ROW80 Check-In 7: What I learned at WriteOnCon

Hello gentle reader,

this week my writing schedule was completely thrown off, thanks to WriteOnCon.

On Friday I did a recap of the online writers conference WriteOnCon and today I thought I could go over a few things I learned during this crazy week. YA writer Aimee L. Salter already wrote a great blog post on this topic and I suggest you read it since she really made the most of the conference (she received six full manuscript requests and a direct referral to an editor!). I was less dedicated than her to fully take advantage of the conference (I only spent a few hours a day in front of the computer) but I did learn a few things worth sharing if you ever want to get published traditionally …

1)      Write an awesome book first.

Having a successful author platform and thousands of followers won’t do any good unless you have a great book to sell. Ultimately, agents and editors want an amazing book that will blow them away. The author platform and the followers will only be the “icing on the cake”.

2)       It’s a crowded world out there.

I read dozens of awesome queries on the WriteOnCon forums. These writers are going to get published, I have no doubt about it. And instead of being depressed by the prospect of having to “compete” with all those great writers, I found that reading their work on the forums  was motivating. Because now I know what agents getting my query will compare it with. I know I have to be as good as all those talented writers out there.

3)      A query has to make your book stand out.

Before WriteOnCon, my query was ok. I had sent it to 5 agents and got 2 partial requests. I hadn’t committed any of the Deadly Sins of Querying. My query was professional and brief. It included the agents’ names, the title of my MS, genre and word count, and a brief summary of the plot/main characters issues. But having an average query is not enough to get published. A query has to be outstanding. I learned that I had to make every word of my query count to make it unique and to really hook my reader.

4)      Don’t rush.

You should never send a query or a manuscript that is not ready and in the best possible shape. But getting your query/MS ready and in the best possible shape takes time. And it’s OK. Take a year to polish your MS. Take two! Revise, revise, revise. If your book is really unique and awesome, it will get published regardless of trends and external influences.

5)      Seek help and feedback.

I have said it before on this blog, but WriteOnCon confirmed my thoughts: you can’t do this alone. You cannot get your MS ready and awesome without people giving you feedback on it.

6)      Listen to the advice of professionals.

They are the ones who will read your query and hopefully buy your book and turn you into the next J.K. Rowling. Listen to what they have to say. Read their blogs, watch their vlogs and seek their advice. Be professional. They are.

7)      Trust your instinct.

A conference such as WriteOnCon is a great way to get advice. TONS of advice. And by the end of the day, you’ll notice contradictions. Don’t mention world-building in your query. Mention some elements of world building in your query. Don’t say you’re planning on writing a book series. Let people know you’ve devised your book as the first installment in a series. Don’t start your novel with a dream/prologue/MC running. It’s ok to start your novel with a dream/ prologue/MC running as long as it’s essential to the story. A YA novel shouldn’t be longer than 75K. No, 80K. No, 100K.  Actually 115K is ok in some cases. The next YA trend is edgy contemporary. No, it’s historical novels… You get the point. If you listen to everyone in the profession, you end up pulling your hair out.

So, at the end of the day, trust yourself. Make your book as awesome as possible and believe in it.


To check out other fellow ROWers, click here.

WriteOnCon 2012 recap

Hello gentle reader,

you may have noticed that I have been very quiet on this blog since Monday: the reason for this is that I was attending an online writing conference called WriteOnCon.

According to its website, WriteOnCon “is a totally free, interactive online Writer’s Conference held annually during the summer. The first Conference, held August 10-12, 2010, had over 11,000 attendees. (…) WriteOnCon is not exclusive to kidlit writers. In order to stay organized, the curriculum is focused on Picture Book, Middle Grade, and Young Adult writers. However, much of the information provided applies to all writers, and many of the publishing professionals who participate cross over.”

This was my first year attending the conference and I have found it to be incredibly useful. The 2012 conference offered live professional panels, vlogs, blog posts, forum events, competitions, critiques and book prizes.

In case you missed it, it is not too late to access some of the most interesting content. I strongly recommend you check out:

– the Live Panel of Professionals (Tuesday) and Live Panel of Professionals (Wednesday): everything you need to know about the publishing world.

– the writing and revision tips: Tips for Starting a New Project, Hooks and Killer First Lines, What is Voice, and How do I Get it?, The Importance of Craft, Plotting with 3×5 cards,  Building Characters into Real People,  Elements of Writing, The Revision Checklist and “Back to Basic” Writing Tips.

– the tips on the querying process: Knowing When Your MS is Ready to Query and The Inside Scoop: Get Your Query Noticed.

– the discussions on genres: Differences between YA and MG, Middle Grade Rules, Picture Book Query Critiques.

– there are also many tips on social media: How to Get Started With Social Media: DON’T Do All The Things! and Blogging Basics

What I liked about the conference was that there were posts for beginners (like Reading like a Book Blogger which discussed the book bloggers’ pet peeves) and other posts for more experienced writers (like Choosing the Right Critique Partners).

My favourite post was World-building in Science Fiction and Fantasy by author Mindee Arnett, mostly because I write Epic Fantasy.

The last aspect of the conference that I loved was getting feedback on my query and some of my writing in the forum. My query is still up if you want to comment on it!

Did you take part in WriteOnCon? Did you find it useful? What did you enjoy most about it? Do comment and share your experience! I’d love to hear your thoughts…