Pike's story!

Find out more 



Male/Male romance

Available now! Find out more 


Available now for only $1.99!

Find out more 




Gibson's story!

Releasing Oct. 20, 2015!

Find out more 



A brand new series!

Releasing Jan. 5, 2016!

Find out more 




*This does not subscribe you to my blog.





Join the Fearless Romantics Reader Group

Search This Site
Powered by Squarespace
Latest From the Blog
Dig Through the Archives
100+ reading challenge 2010 about me adverbs agent agents ashley march author author blog author branding author intrusion author platform author voice author websites authors award awards backstory bad boy balance berkley heat best writing links beta club beta reader beta readers blog tour blog tours blogfest blogger blogging blogging tips book book covers book deal book marketing book promotion book reviews book title books branding characters comments contest contests crash into you creativity critique critique group critiquing dear author debut author deep point of view deep POV dialogue ebooks editing editors endings e-publishing excerpt face off friday feedback fiction fill-me-in friday first chapter first draft first novel genre genre fiction goals guest blog guest blogging guest post harlequin historical romance hook how to write humor ideas indie publishing inspiration interview joan swan Julie Cross kindle kissing blogfest kristen lamb links literary agent literary fiction love scenes marketing mashup melt into you memorable moments middle grade motivation motley crue movies muse music mystery mystery writing Nelson Literary Agency new years resolutions novels opening chapter opening lines openings overediting panster pantser paranormal pen name perfectionism pitching plotter plotting poll promotion publishing queries query query letter querying question of the day reading reading challenges rejection repost revising revisions romance romance author romantic suspense roni loren rough draft royal street rules RWA RWA nationals sagging middle Sara Megibow save the cat self-editing self-publishing sequels series sex scenes sierra godfrey social media social networking speed writing submissions suspense suzanne johnson teens tempest tiffany reisz time management TMI traditional publishing tumblr twilight twitter update urban fantasy voice WIP wip wednesday women's fiction wordiness work in progress wednesday workshops write tip writer writer toolbox writers writer's block writers' conference writer's toolbox writetip writing writing blogs writing contest writing craft writing goals YA young adult

Fiction Groupie Archives

These are my writing posts from my former blog, spanning 2009-2012. To see new writing posts, click on the blog tab above. To see these archived post organized by topic, click "For Writers" above.

Entries in DFWcon (1)


What Will Make an Agent "Gong" Your Query



This weekend I had the privilege of attending the DFW Writer's conference. It was a lot of fun and I even got to meet some bloggy/twitter friends who I hadn't had the chance to meet before. Below is a pic of me with the lovely Genevieve Wilson and Dawn Alexander.



I went to a lot of different workshops, but one of the most entertaining and informative sessions of the conference were the two agent "Gong" shows. The setup was simple. Each agent had a gong, anonymous queries were read aloud, and agents would hit their gong when they would've stopped reading. It was quite hilarious, but I also learned a lot of things about what they are and are NOT looking for in a query letter. So I thought I'd pass some of those along.




1. Opening with a question. 
Most of us have heard this, but there was still a query in the bunch that did this. It got instantly gonged.


2. Vampires
You have to be REALLY REALLY different to get them to even consider another vampire novel.

3. Cancer
In and of itself, it may be an important issue in a book, but there were at least four queries where cancer seemed thrown in to up the dramatic effect. "There's this and this and this! Plus, someone has cancer!"

4. Too many things/issues/characters/plotlines.
This was one that the agents said a lot. Stories that seemed to have too many different things going on, too many characters, or too many plotlines listed in the query lost their interest. Stick to the hook!

5. Describing your own writing.
Don't tell them in your query that your story is fascinating, fast-paced, touching, whatever. Show them the story, not what you think of your own writing. One agent gonged out when the first sentence said "This is a fascinating story of..."

6. Cliches and tropes
Overused and tired phrases in the query got you gonged. If you're using them in the query, the agents suspect they'll be in your book. "Her life will be forever changed"..."The last thing she expected was"..."love is blind"...etc. Plus, cliched storylines as well--girl finding a diary with secrets, person finding a portal, romantic suspense where the wife suspects husband is up no good, the woman who loses her husband and goes  a small town to rebuild her life, etc.

7. Inauthentic voice
There was a YA one that used "awesome" "buttload" and "stupid" all in the first two sentences. It sounded like an adult trying to do teenspeak. Didn't work at all.

8. Stuff Happens
Queries where there was a lists of events but no hook or central conflict described.

9. Teens and the elderly
This is a bit random, but there were a few queries that were pitched at YA where the story is the teen gaining wisdom from an older person. They shot these down. Teens don't want to read about old people. They don't care what older people have to say when they are that age and so they aren't going to want to read about that.

10. September 11th plotline
All the agents literally groaned. Some said it was still too close of a topic for them to personally work with. Remember, most of these agents live in NYC, 9/11 was a national tragedy but for those on the front lines realize that it's got to be even more traumatic to relive.

11. Going on and on and on....(kind of like this post :p )
They want to hook, the main character(s), and what's at stake. That's really about it. Do not give a synopsis posing as a query.

12. If you do the "it's this meets this" kind of hook, don't use two movies. Use at least one book in the comparison to show that you are well-read in your own genre.
And don't compare to the GIANT books. Twilight, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Hunger Games--they're used so much that the comparisons don't meant anything anymore.

So many queries had a whole lot of words but said nothing. It's a tale of love and loss and redemption. Of good and evil. Of whatever other completely vague abstract concepts you can think of. That may be a theme in your story but that is not what it's about. The agents want to know what your story is specifically about. Do not waste words talking about abstract things. Every word must give them something that you haven't already said and that speaks to the uniqueness of your story.

I'm sure there were more, but those were the ones that stuck out most in my mind. So do any of these surprise you? What do you think of this feedback?