From Judy Blume's MasterClass

Getting Ready to Submit

Judy shares what she always does before submitting a manuscript. She also teaches you how to write a killer query letter to find an agent.

Topics include: Find an Agent • Read It Out Loud • Find Encouraging Feedback

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Judy shares what she always does before submitting a manuscript. She also teaches you how to write a killer query letter to find an agent.

Topics include: Find an Agent • Read It Out Loud • Find Encouraging Feedback

Judy Blume

Teaches Writing

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You really can't go out there today without an agent. It's completely different than it was when I started. You know, my first three books were un-agented books, because writers were still being discovered in the slush pile, which meant that manuscripts were just coming in and somebody was reading them. But that doesn't happen today. The editors don't want to see a manuscript, as far as I know, that doesn't come through an agent. So your first job is to get that agent's attention and make that agent want to find out more about you and then hopefully find the right editor for you. I asked my agent this question about how does a new writer find an agent today? And she said, you have to write an incredible one-page query that's just a knockout, that just captures this person's attention. You have to let them know who you are by the voice that you are writing this letter in. This has got to really knock them out. So like everything else, take your time. Make sure that it's a good letter, make sure that it's got the names right-- her name and maybe her author's names. Tell her or him a little bit about yourself, about what you're writing, and if it's fiction and the agent is interested, he or she is going to want to see chapters, maybe a whole manuscript. Probably you'll think any agent that wants to represent you is a great fit in the beginning, anyway. You know, you'll be excited. This person likes something about you or your work. So of course that's great. You'll go with that person. If it turns out after a while that it's not a good fit for either one of you, you might have to find another agent. One good idea is check out who is the agent representing the writer of the books that you like. I mean, it's easy to find that out. And sometimes it will be in the book in the acknowledgments. "My agent, so-and-so." Or you can find out by going to the author's website, probably. Often it will say, "represented by so-and-so." And that's a very good thing to do. And then when you write your knockout query letter, you can mention, I really loved so-and-so's last book, and I know that you represented her. And that's good. You don't want to send anything out to that agent until it's absolutely as good as you can make it. And this is where I say, I know you know it really well by now. Don't get bored. Don't get lazy and say, it's good enough. Put it away for a little while. Come back to it. And you may only get this one chance. So make sure it's your very, very best effort. And in that period when you feel you're ready to send it out, and you put it away for a few weeks before you read it again, that's the time to read aloud. Read aloud then and listen and edit as you go. Because once it's published, it's too late. And the way that I know this about reading aloud and doing it while you still can is that when it was tim...

Write timeless stories

Judy Blume broke the rules. Her refreshingly honest children’s books were banned by hundreds of libraries and loved by generations of readers, who bought 85 million copies of classics like Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and Superfudge. In her first online writing class, the award-winning author teaches you how to invent vivid characters, write realistic dialogue, and turn your experiences into stories people will treasure.

Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Inspirational, deeply moving, full of invaluable information. Thank you for your heart, your kindness and generosity. You bought me delight and lifted my spirit.

Hearing and seeing Judy, one of the strongest and dearest voices of my childhood, talk so candidly and with such emotion about her experience as a writer has been amazing! I feel encouraged and inspired to continue my writing journey. Thank you, Judy and Masterclass!

Judy is just darling, so wonderful to spend time with. I feel so motivated and inspired to continue my writing after viewing her videos. Thank you for offering this. Thank you, Judy Blume! What a treat.

I grew up reading Judy Blume - I came to hear how to be a writer or craft a story but I got so much more. Judy actually shared herself, the raw real journey, and process - I learnt that where I was second guessing myself Judy does and did and it's normal my process and that alone was incredibly refreshing - a very human way to deliver very important life lessons.

Comments

Mia S.

"There's just one thing I have to keep saying, and that is: Every editor wants to discover that new talent, that new voice, that original, fresh voice. Every editor wants that. They're not looking for the trendy, they're looking for something original. And that's hard. I don't want you to be discouraged by some of what I'm saying here, because you will be discovered if you keep doing this and it's your best, it's fresh, and it's new, original - an agent is going to find that, an editor is going to welcome it, and you'll be on your way. Today I think a lot of you are probably in writers' groups, and you read your work aloud to each other and talk about it in a kind and positive way. That's great, I didn't have any of that, I didn't know anybody who wrote. I didn't have a support group, so I'm not used to sharing my work with people before it goes to an agent or editor. Maybe the people in that support group are asking you questions; everything will depend on what your story is and who your characters are. The more specific the questions, I think, the better. Are you going to question yourself? I don't know, I'm not sure that you will. Having a fresh pair of eyes look at your work is always a good idea, but you have to be careful. You don't want hurtful, negative criticism, you want positive criticism, and by that I mean, it's criticism, but it's with support."

Mia S.

"You don't want to send anything out to that agent until it's absolutely as good as you can make it. This is where I say, Don't get bored; don't get lazy and say, 'it's good enough.' Put it away for a little while, come back to it. You may only get this one chance, so make sure it's your very best effort. In that period when you feel you're ready to send it out, and you put it away for a few weeks before you read it again - that's the time to read aloud. Read aloud then, and listen and edit as you go. Once it's published, it's too late. The way that I know this about reading aloud and doing it while you still can: When it was time to do an audio book of the first 'Fudge' book, they asked me to read it. Once I read one, I had to read all five of them. There I was in the studio, it was my first experience reading for an audio book, and as I read, I kept improving it - I was editing as I went. The person in the booth, the producer, would knock on the glass and stop me, 'You made a mistake there,' and I would say, 'No, I'm making it better, because I wrote this book and I know I'm making it better.' 'Judy, it's too late. The time for that was before it was published, it's published now, people are reading it and people are going to be reading it along with the audio book, children at school. You have to read every word the way you wrote it.' That was a terrible blow to me, I felt I could make it so much better. At the end, before - take the time. Read it aloud. You will make it better. You'll have that pencil - we're not talking about major rewriting, we're talking about that fine-tune editing that you do, and that you will hear as you read it aloud. You're listening to the flow, for 'Is it smooth? Fun to read? Does it get bogged down here? Is this paragraph so long that it's just a bore?' You want to make it as clean as you can, because that's going to help catch the eye of an agent."

Mia S.

"You really can't go out there today without an agent - it's completely different than it was when I started. My first three books were un-agented, because writers were still being discovered in the slush pile, which meant that manuscripts were just coming in and somebody was reading them. But that doesn't happen today - the editors don't want to see a manuscript that doesn't come through an agent. So your first job is to get that agent's attention and make that agent want to find out more about you, and then hopefully find the right editor for you. I asked my agent this question about, 'How does a new writer find an agent today?' She said, 'You have to write an incredible one-page query that's just a knockout, that just captures this person's attention. You have to let them know who you are by the voice that you are writing this letter in; this has got to really knock them out. So like everything else, take your time - make sure that it's a good letter, that it's got the names right, her name and maybe her author's names. Tell him or her a little bit about yourself, what you're writing, and if it's fiction and the agent is interested, he or she is going to want to see chapters, maybe a whole manuscript.' Probably you'll think any agent that wants to represent you is a great fit in the beginning, you'll be excited this person likes something about you or your work. You'll go with that person. If it turns out after awhile that it's not a good fit for either one of you, you might have to find another agent. One good idea is, check out who is the agent representing the writer of the books that you like - it's easy to find that out and sometimes it will be in the book in the acknowledgments. You can find out by going to the author's website, 'represented by so-and-so.' When you write your knockout query letter, you can mention 'I really loved so-and-so's last book, and I know that you represented her.' And that's good."

Christina

This was an excellent lesson. I love hearing about Judy's personal experiences. She brings the old world of writing with her and in some ways, it sounds simple, but I can only imagine the obstacles she faced. Today, it feels like nothing is original and there are too many options. You can go through an agent or self-publish. You can write an e-book or publish a hard-cover book; you can get an MA or an MFA, or none of the above. All options are costly. Regardless, I'm so grateful that a class conducted by my favorite childhood author became available to me.

Warren D.

Excellent advise. Excellent presentation. Judy is so reassuring and supportive in her comments and suggestions. The honesty and care with which she presents all aspects of writing is superb. I have so enjoyed and relished this course, this training program, this insightful journey with Judy Blume.

book E.

I LOVE this lady. Humorous, emotional, an open Soul that hides little. hahahahahahah on audio book reading......

Alonna S.

The query letter! A challenge I'll be embracing soon (I hope). #AmPracticing. Fresh eyes with positive criticism meaning with criticism with support. :)

Kara J.

I hired a professional editor on my own through Reedsy. You can choose an editor based on your chosen genre, read through their professional experience and skills, and submit your request for quotes. There are many ways to get your work ready for publication, especially if you're going the independent publishing route.

Kasy L.

This was very encouraging advice. I especially liked the tip Judy gave about looking at who is representing the books I like and pitch my manuscript to them or similar agents. I'm nowhere near ready to have my manuscript ready for publication, but once I get to that point, Judy's advice will be in the back of my mind.

Ryan L.

I actually pretty much cheated with getting my book published. I simply sent it to a publishing house cold, and they liked it enough to put it out, no agent or anything required. I was also lucky enough to then be able to work with a fantastic editor who perfectly toed the line between frankly telling me what wasn't working (which was a good bit to start out with) and keeping me from getting discouraged. I can also relate very well to still wanting to work on it now that it's actually getting published; it's really the curse of any creator I suppose, that you can't properly enjoy your own work because you can only see where you think you could have done better.