Sunday, January 14, 2018

Writing in 2018 - An Aspiring MG/YA Author’s Guide

Happy Sunday, Biblionerds!

Today I'm going to post a resource post for all of you aspiring authors (like myself) who are looking for their place in the online writing community, which is big and hepful and sometimes terrifying.

First off - Everything I say about my journey is one perspective, any suggestions, advice, or encouragement I offer is coming from a place of love but may not be right for you. This journey is so vastly different for everyone - but the biggest thing is: YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO IT ALONE.

There’s a place for you in the writing community and if you’re willing to put in the effort, the door is wide open to welcome you.

At the beginning of 2017 I was finishing up my first completed project (not my first project EVER but the one that I loved enough to revise and revise and revise and revise). I’d edited it for what felt like the zillionth time and had BETA readers involved. I thought I was ready - so I sent out a couple of queries and was met with immediate rejection (spoiler: my manuscript totally wasn’t ready yet).

One rejection in particular was pretty scathing. It suggested that my writing sounded like I was “trying too hard”.

Well. Yikes.

In the dark moment of total personal uncertainty that followed, I found #ontheporch on twitter. Then #Pitchwars. Then...

I’ll stop there with my story, which is still developing every day. Things got better. My manuscript got better. I got better. And it was because of the community and resources I found that I now want to share with you.

Following is a list of hashtags, resources, and contests that I have found to be great building blocks for my writing life. If you have ANY questions or just want to chat about the crazy process that is wrtiting - DM me over on Twitter (@Odrah). I'm not even close to the be-all-end-all on information but I've been there, I AM there, and I understand you, my little bibliophile. I understand.

So here we go!


The writing community online is HUGE. And, admittedly, intimidating to break into. Lots of people have already formed some pretty tight knit friendships and support groups and it may feel like you're on the outside looking in. I GET IT. THAT WAS ME. 

You're seen and you're heard - but just like joining a club, you can't show up to ONE event and none of the meetings and expect everyone to remember you. Be present.

If you believe you don't have anything to add - that's HOGWASH. You have something to offer the community that has NEVER BEEN THERE BEFORE. You!

Here are a few great #'s to get you started. I'm only posting a small sampling because there are TONS of writing #'s to try, but these are the ones I've personally enjoyed the most. These are all Twitter based, because this is the platform I use the most - but you can find these same # on Instagram.


- START HERE. #ontheporch is a supper supportive group of writers on all stages of the journey. Highly welcoming. Not intimidating. They welcome new people to their fold with total enthusiasm. They also have a "no selling" rule - so you're not going to be bombarded with people trying to push their books onto you with no interest in friendship or community.


- A group of writers who are a little more laid back. Their writing progress is more chill than others for varrying reasons but they are still hyper-supportive and full of wisdom and info.


- This # is much bigger in scope and there are a LOT of people posting on it, so it's easy to get lost in the noise, but this # is great for finding others who are in your same spot (that's how you make friends)

Use subhashtags in combination like #MG, #YA, #Fantasy #SciFi (etc.) to find others writing in your same genre. Like their tweets (or insta posts), comment on their stuff, offer support!


- Same as #amwriting but for people who are in the oh-so-glorious yet harrowing editing stages.


-This hashtag will have all the info for upcoming PitchWars events and competitions that happen throughout the year (Pitmad for example- more info below). It's also going to be filled with truly inspiring stories of writers at every stage of their process.


-This is just fun! Writers on Twitter and Istagram make collages of images that represent their WIP (Work In Progress). Looking at ad commenting on other people's novel aesthetics and creating your own is a great ice breaker.


Below you'll find a few resources that helped me a lot during my writing/editing and querying processes.

CP Match

On Twitter there's this great thing called #cpmatch. You get matched up with a critique partner (CP),  exchange your work (at whatever stage) and let the fun and work begin! CPs are critical to many writers. The first CP you get matched up with might not be THE ONE for you. It's okay. Keep looking. Finding a partner who understands your vision and has a similar editing style/process will happen, and it will be glorious.

SIDE NOTE: Ok. Here's the deal. You are not an island. No matter how much you wish you were. You need eyes on your work, because after a while you become immune to some of the problems. AND ALSO, we can't know every little thing. A fresh new perspective will uncover something you'd previously overlooked. It can be scary scary scary to share your writing, but it's a fear you've got to overcome if you want your best work landing in an Agent's inbox.

One Stop for Writers and Writers Thesaurus

One Stop for Writers is JUST WHAT IT SAYS IT IS. It's a place for writers to find plot charts, character worksheets, and so much more. I'll let them speak for themselves:

"This storehouse of creative information is the inspiration behind One Stop For Writers®. Like a library, One Stop houses a vast collection of reference materials that are intended to help writers improve their craft. Our library is loaded with one-of-a-kind story and character planning resources unlike anything else available."
OSFW also has 14 different Thesauri for writers including: Emotion, Positive Trait, and Symbol/Motif thesauri.

Manuscript Academy

There are SO MANY OPTIONS at Manuscript Academy for you no matter what your stage of the process. Panels and video classes from varying book professionals cover topics from Marketing and Social Media to Voice and Contract Law.

Their podcasts are fun and informative and they offer critiques and 10-minute chats with editors and agents to help prepare you for the lauded and frightening querying part of your writing journey.

We believe that the writing conference should be affordable, accessible, and awesome. We offer personalized, creative access to the top minds in the industry--all without leaving home.



This is the biggie, so I'm mentioning it first. Pitch Wars is a yearly event that starts around July with blog hops and official submission window announcements. You'll have an opporunity to pitch your FINISHED MANUSCRIPT to 4 participating mentors (Publishes/Agented Authors) in your category. Winners work with their mentors for 2 months to revise and prepare their manuscript for the agent round in November.

I CAN NOT STRESS TO YOU ENOUGH WHAT A HUGE OPPORTUNITY THIS IS. Even if you don't make it in, all of the events and contests leading up to it will help you forge super support groups and will make your pitches and first pages better. Participating (regarldess of whether or not you get a mentor) will change your writing and your outlook.

Here's the current schedule for 2018

  • Pitch Wars is closed for submissions until July 2018
  • March 8, 2018: #PitMad Twitter Pitch Party (8AM – 8PM EDT)
  • April: Look for information about Pitch Wars Query and First Page Workshops
  • June 7, 2018: #PitMad Twitter Pitch Party (8AM – 8PM EDT)
  • July: Look for the Blog Hop and Submission Window!
  • August: Pitch Wars Mentees Announced
  • September 6, 2018: #PitMad Twitter Pitch Party (8AM – 8PM EDT)
  • November: Pitch Wars Agent Showcase
  • December 6, 2018: #PitMad Twitter Pitch Party (8AM – 8PM EDT)

Note - #PitMad is a twitter pitch party where you pitch your FINISHED MANUSCRIPT to agents using only the 240 characters allowed to you. It happens several times a year, so you don't have to worry about missing out if you're not quite ready in the early parts of the year.

1st50 and Peer Pitch

These are two twitter # events that occur throughout the year and involve getting the community in on helping you tighten up your pitches and 1st 50 words of your manuscript.

A long list is chosen from entires and posted on The Scribblers webiste. From the long list, the short list is formed! Short listed winners get a bit of exposure and some rad bragging rights, but it's the community involvement leading up to the contest that really matters. That's where you meet your people and hone your work.

If you want to stay up on when the next #PeerPitch and #1st50 contests are, check out The Scribblers on Twitter.

Query Kombat and other Michelle Hauck Competitions

Query Kombat is a super fun, bracket style competition involving... you guessed it... queries! QK happens around May - The official dates will be available on Ms. Hauck's website.
On said website you will also find information on the following competitions:

Sun Vs. Snow (Query and first 250 words)
Nightmare on Query Street
Picture Book Party

Author Mentor Match

So this is not actually a competition, but it's in the same wheelhouse as the above contests. Check their website for 2018 entry dates.  And here's a word about AMM from their own mouths!
What is Author Mentor Match?
Author Mentor Match pairs unagented, aspiring YA writers with mentors to help them with their manuscripts and guide them through the publishing process.

There’s no contest aspect–AMM focuses on building lasting relationships. Mentors will help writers revise their manuscript before querying, give advice and tips on agents, and support through the process.


 If you've completed (and revized the stuffing out of) your Manuscript and are ready to hop into what's known as the "querying trenches", then here are some helpful resources for you.


This is a most invaluable resource. Many many many agents are on twitter and utilize the #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List). They TELL YOU exactly what they want to see. If your manuscript matches something in an agent's wishlist - SEND YOUR QUERY! Be sure to mention the match in your query letter. Agents appreciate research and personalization, so don't feel creepy about saying that you saw their MSWL. That's why it's there!

You can also utilize their handy and informative website to search MSWL lists: Manuscript Wishlist


Another twitter hashtag that will give you hyper-important info regarding the to-dos and the not-to-dos when you're querying. You're going to need this hashtag when you get to this point. Have a question? ASK AN AGENT. But if you're a little on the reserved side, you can just peruse all of the awesome questions and answers that have already been posted. If you have a particular agent you're intersted in seeing answers from, use the twitter search: #askagent [agents twitter name]

Query Tracker

Query Tracker is a fabulous tool - especially if you love stats and reports. There is a free version and a paid version. BOTH are great. With the free version you can organize your querying lists, research agents, and keep track of who has your query, your partial, or your full. You can even log CNRs (no responses) and rejections. All of this results in a stat chart that can help you determine things such as: Is my query working? Do my first pages need another look over?

You can also search agents by genre and be up on who's open and who isn't. There are also forums and comment sections!

The PAID version will give you access to agent reports, including response times, submission replies, and Agents with similar tastes.

Publishers Marketplace

Publishers Marketplace is a paid subscription to a website that contains agent information such as: Recent Sales, Recent Aquisitions, Publishing Houses worked with, Editors worked with, Authors represented and much much more.

When you're getting ready to query, this can be a very important resource for you. But it is not 100% necessary. You can find most very important information about agents on Agency websites, through google searches, and on the Agent's social media profiles (specifically...wait for it... Twitter!).

But if you want that little extra insight, Publisher's Marketplace is a great investment.

That's All For This Resource Post!

I hope that the above lists have given you at least a starting point for your incredible (really, it's going to be rad) writing and querying journey.

Like I said before, please feel free to connect with me on Twitter. If I can't answer your questions, maybe I know someone who can!

Good luck!

See you next post and Happy Reading/Writing! 

Let's Be Friends!

Auggie is the 31 year old whirlwind owner of Auggie-Talk. A bibliobibuli by nature and a (potentially obsessive) lover of Diana Wynne Jones and Neil Gaiman. Not so secrety secret: She's been known to consume too much caffeine leading to hyperactive rants about her heinous lack of shelving.

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