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How to find the right freelance editor for your book or novel

By Mayra Cuevas

This weekend, while attending the Atlanta Writers Conference, several writers asked me about my experience working with a freelance manuscript editor. Many told me they had considered this approach but were uncertain about the process. They also questioned whether the financial investment would yield any real benefit.

In August I sent my contemporary YA manuscript to freelance editor Deborah Halverson, the award-winning author of Writing YoungAdult Fiction for Dummies, founder of and former books editor with Harcourt Children’s Books. Her services for substantive editing included providing feedback on overall voice, plot, pacing, characterization, setting, etc.

Before hiring Deborah, I had written two full manuscripts. I had worked on my YA contemporary manuscript for 18 months and had done multiple revisions. I had sought feedback from my critique group and beta readers. I had also pitched the manuscript to a small group of agents and while I received several requests for a full manuscript the overall response was that the story still needed work.
I reached that point: I had no idea how to fix my own story. I knew then, it was time to hire a freelance editor. Read more

The (real) Query Process… and how not to go insane while refreshing your inbox

Here I am, my second visit to Queryland, just a little wiser than the first. Once again I find myself experiencing the nausea inducing compulsive “inbox refresh.” So in order to share my misery with the world, I thought I would write a list of how this query process goes… for all of you who haven’t had the pleasure of the experience.

Here it is in 10 easy steps:

1) Pour your heart into a manuscript for months or years. This is key to heightening the query experience.

2) Decide that you are ready to query! Now is when the crazy starts.

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Agent and Editor Query Links: Obsession, Misery and Laughs

Back in October I wrote about starting my agent / editor query process. And… I’m still at it. Perseverance is the word you are thinking of.

During the query process I have discovered some great websites worth sharing. If you are in your query process like I am, you can obsess over them in between repeatedly refreshing your email to make sure you didn’t miss any messages from your to-be agent/editor.

I have divided the sites into helpful categories.

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Query time has arrived!

I am very excited about this post because it means I have begun querying my manuscript.

This post is divided in two parts: the Query Preparations and the Query Letter. In the following months I will post an update on my query results.

The Query Preparations

Long before my manuscript was finished I was working towards my query goals. In October 2012, I attended a writers conference and pitched my book for the first time (read more about that day here). By the end of that conference I had met with two agents who were interested in receiving my query once the manuscript was finished.

This year I attended two additional conferences in May and July and met five more fantastic agents. I added their names to my agent dream board – really a dream spreadsheet – for a total of seven agents that had requested my manuscript.

In the last months I also compiled a “cold query” list. I researched potential agents in Publishers Marketplace and Writer’s Digest, read their bios and reviewed their client list. I was looking for agents interested in representing young adult fantasy. In all, I added about 30 potential “cold query” agents to my list.

I also received advice from other authors about their query process. The very talented YA author, Romily Bernard shared her color-coded agent spreadsheet with me. I was so thankful she did. Her gift helped me visualize my goals even before I was ready to accomplish them.
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My first agent critique, a confession of struggles and the happy news that followed

By Mayra Cuevas

After a decade-long career in journalism, I pride myself on the ability to take criticism and rejection. At least that’s what I’d tell my writing partner every time literary rejection came up.

I once worked on a mini-documentary series for six months only to have it cancelled after it was ready to air. But that is the nature of the TV business, so it was easy to accept.

But writing a novel, I have come to find out, is different. It is a very personal, almost visceral experiment that brings out every hidden insecurity. And faced with criticism and rejection, it can be devastating.

Last month, I participated in the Atlanta Writers Group Spring conference – my second writers conference and my first taste of literary judgment. My first conference, last October, was a mix of excitement and the unrealistic idealism of the first time novelist. This second time was a reality check brought about by an agent critique session.

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