One Writer’s Journey

March 8, 2017

Query Letters: Connecting with the agent

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:04 am
Tags: , , , ,

A query letter is a business letter.  Check.  That’s easy and straightforward enough that most of us get it.

A query letter is also the writer’s opportunity to connect with the agent.  But remember, it is still a business letter.

Did you hear the agent speak at a conference?  Then say so.  “When I heard you speak at the Mashed Mangoes SCBWI conference, your wish list included picture books about tropical fruit.  Enclosed…”  In much the same way I’ve reminded agents that we had dinner together as fellow conference speakers.

In much the same way, you should also let the agent know if your manuscript is a good match for a recent #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) post on Twitter or their profile listing on the Manuscript Wish List web site.  Just be sure to keep is short and simple.  “On March 2, 2017, your blog post included a call for …”  “Your February 22, 2017 #MSWL tweet …” You don’t have to quite them word for word.  Just mentioned the post, tweet or whatever.  This will let the agent know why you have chosen them and that you aren’t sending your work to every agent in the SCBWI directory.

But keep it business like.  If the agent likes dogs and you have a canine manuscript, say so but don’t gush on-and-on about man’s best friend.  If the agent tweeted about Firefly and you have a manuscript with the same feel, say so without confessing your undying love for Nathan Fillion or Gina Torres.

Loved her hair?  That’s awesome.  But keep it to yourself.

Think he has great taste in messenger bags?  Cool!  But don’t mention it.

You want to make a connection but you don’t want to come off stalker-ish, creepy or just plain strange.  I know, I know.  Most of us don’t need to be told that but my job at one conference was to follow the editor to the restroom and make sure no one bothered her while she was doing her business.  Yep.  I was a bathroom bouncer.

Make that connection but be professional.  As Cobra Bubbles would say in Lilo and Stitch, “Do I make myself clear?”


February 10, 2017

#MSWL Day: Boom or Bust?

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:20 am
Tags: , , , ,

twitter-1138522_1920Were you one of the many writers checking out all of the #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) tweets?  I planned to leave the feed up all day, stopping in to check every once in a while and read the latest posts.  But that plan went out the window when I got home from yoga and saw 400+ new tweets.

With so much being posted, I knew there was no way I could read it all.  So I’d scan the new posts when there were 20 or 40 but when I’d come back and find another 100 or more I simply refreshed the feed.

I know I missed a lot that way but I wasn’t too worried.  Toward the end of the day, I searched on a few key words.  #MSWL PB.  #MSWL picture book.  #MSWL  STEM.  #MSWL nonfiction.

As I found posts that interested me, I took a screen clipping and pasted them into a Word document.  All in all, I ended up with 9 leads.  Specifically, I was looking for picture books and nonfiction.  If I was looking for an agent who does young adult, I’d have had pages and pages and pages of tweets to go through.

There are three ways to see what a particular editor or agent wants.

Go to Twitter and read their feed.  This can be tough if it is someone who posts very often.

Go to Twitter and search #MSWL (agent or editor name).   This can be helpful if your target agents posts often.

Go to Manuscript Wish List.  Once there, search for your agent or editor of interested.  On their profile page, in the center column is a button that says “See my latest #MSWL tweets.”  Guess what?  Click it.  I’ve yet to figure out just how the tweets are arranged.  Not by date.  Not by reversed date.  Skim them and see if this agent still looks promising.

You can also like tweets as they are posted.  Then you go to your twitter profile and click likes.  Everything you liked is going to come up which might be a problem if you like a lot.

If you find a recent tweet that jives with something you’ve written, mention it in your query letter.  This is another way to show your agent or editor of choice that you’ve done your research.

Good luck!


January 30, 2017

#MSWL: One Tool to Help You Find an Agent

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:13 am
Tags: , , ,

Do you wish you had a crystal ball that would tell you what potential agents really want to see?  If yotwitter-848528_1920-croppedu have a Twitter account, you do.  All you have to do is search #MSWL.  If that doesn’t look familiar, it should.  It stands for Manuscript Wish List.  Agents and editor use this tag to help writers find the clues that will lead them to the right agent.

Sometimes what they ask for is pretty general.  “Still looking for middle g
rade and young adult novels.”  Other times it is much more specific. Janine O’Malley recently asked for books that foster empathy and compassion.  Another tweet asked for commercial fiction that handles family secrets with compassion in the vein of Tell the Wolves I’m Home.  

If you have a market to place, be sure to sign into your twitter account and check out the postings on February 8, 2017.  That’s the next Manuscript Wish List Day.  Throughout that day editors and agents will tweet about their dream manuscripts.

Maybe just maybe it will be something that you’ve got in your files.  You won’t know until you do that search — #MSWL.




November 7, 2016

Agents and Editors Looking for Manuscripts

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 2:17 am
Tags: , ,

twitter-848528_1920-croppedWish you knew who wanted your particular manuscript?  At least once a week, more often two or three times, I stop by twitter and read the #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) posts.  Sunday night I learned that:

Dial’s Ellen Cormier would like to find a YA with a character who slips into or back into “disordered eating behaviors” without realizing what is happening because it isn’t the full disorder. (post)

Sarah Davies, founder of Greenhouse Literary, would like:
A Cambodian writer who writes YA or MG. (post)
YA fantasy with its roots in non-Anglo Saxon culture.  (post)

Hannah Fergesen of KT Literary would like a YA with a main character who grew up with the Voodoo religion.  (post)

Lauren Spiellier of Triada would like a novel that deals with the events in Flint, Michigan.  (post)

I have to say that there haven’t been a huge number of posts lately, but this is a great way to find a lead.  Maybe your non-Anglo Saxon fantasy isn’t YA but MG.  Davies is interested in MG so this might still be a solid lead.

Don’t have something about Flint but you do have something about a pipeline poisoning a communities drinking water?  Then you might still want to query Spiellier.

These are not the only topics that these agents want but their requests can help you gain some insight into their interests, passions, and preferences.  Don’t let a good opportunity pass you by!


September 19, 2016

MSWL Day: The Best Thing About Twitter

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:04 am
Tags: , , ,

twitter-848528_1920-croppedYes, I participate in social media.  Yes, I get why it is important.  But I also see it as a great big, gigantic time suck.  That’s not someone with a straw that you hear.  That’s social media sucking down your time.

But, like I said, there are also pluses and one of the big ones for Twitter is #MSWL Day.  For those of you who aren’t twitter savy, MSWL stands for Manuscript Wish List. On manuscript wish list day, editors and agents post about the dream manuscripts they would love to receive.

Here are some of the tweets I spotted on the last #MSWL Day (9/13) that are relevent to children’s writers.  I’ll provide a link to each complete post.

Hannah Fergesen Amelia Peabody-esque YA series brimming over with archaeology and murder (Tweet).

Moe Ferrara is on the lookout for MG and YA fantasy and science fiction (Tweet).

Stephanie Stein wants YA and MG fantasy where the magic is 100% essential to the story (Tweet).

She is also on the look out for YA and MG with snarky, sassy characters (Tweet).

Jill Corcoran wants picture books, MG and YA. She wants story and voice that leave her with a feeling of peace and love.  And yes, she got that all into one tweet!  See it here (Tweet).


There were more but these were the ones that caught my attention.  Read the tweet.  Read up on the agent.  Maybe one of them will be right for you and your work.



May 4, 2016

Twitter Abuse

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:35 am
Tags: , ,

Twitter abuseNot too long ago, I finally gave in and joined Twitter.  I wanted to check out the Manuscript Wish List (#MSWL) but the new site was still under construction.  The old site was not being updated.  If I wanted to see what was what, I need to birdie up and Tweet.  Now that I’m on, I follow a few of my writer buddies and some of the authors I like.  I also still check out #MSWL but I’ve already spotted a trend that disturbs me.  Twitter Abuse.

I don’t mean people slamming someone whose tweet they don’t like.  That happens, I’ve heard about it, but I haven’t witness it.  What I’m talking about is lazy people not using a resource the way that they should.  For a week or so, I wondered if I was the only picky pill but then a user named Jackson tweeted “…please stop saying ‘I have xyz’ or ‘is an agent looking for xyz’ in #mswl.  It’s a resource for you to browse. not an advertisement.”

If you aren’t familiar with it, #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) is a tag that agents and editors use when they are looking for something specific . . . well, somewhat specific . . . as specific as agents and editors ever get.

Peter Knapp wants middle grade with heart.  Genre is less important.  Heart is what “wins [him] over.”  Click here for full tweet.

Molly O’Neill is on the lookout for a YA novel about a gap year.  She specifies YA vs NA.  Click here for full tweet.

Liz Kossnar is much more specific.  She wants a picture book that shows the development through time of an artist.  Click here for full tweet.

That’s how #MSWL is supposed to be used.  It isn’t a place to post your manuscript description in the hopes that an agent will fall in love.  It isn’t the place to ask what young readers interested in X should be reading.  It is a tool for writers to use in researching agents and editors.

Fingers crossed that it remains a useful tool for those who need to use it.



Blog at

%d bloggers like this: