Lesson time 9:46 min
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
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...
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.
I was pulled in by her trailer about Writing Process -- it's very analogous to the challenges I face in the editing room as a nonfiction filmmaker. Getting the mess out. But what will stay with me always is Judy's humanity. You see how she chokes up at every memory and every turn--that's how to live and how to live a creative life: to love.
Inspirational, deeply moving, full of invaluable information. Thank you for your heart, your kindness and generosity. You bought me delight and lifted my spirit.
First, let me say that Judy Blume is a national treasure. How lucky are we to learn from her and to benefit from her honest discussions about being a working writer. She has inspired me to keep moving forward and not to edit myself too much (at all) in my first draft. Just get it out on paper then sort it out in the next draft.
This was a fun way to get to know Judy Blume. I'm inspired by her stories and her advice and that will help motivate me to continue with my book.