Forging a Chain

Posted: April 26, 2016 in Writing
Tags: , , , , , , ,


Look at my lovely chains; I have two of them:



I know – one’s longer than the other.  I can explain that.

Over on my bestest critique website (Critique Circle), one of the writers proposed a writing chain for our WIPs.  The game works like this: starting on a given day (in this case, April 1), anyone who wants to participate must write at least one new sentence on their work-in-progress every day.  For every consecutive day you do this, you get to add one link to your chain.  If you skip a day you have broken your chain, and you must start a new chain the next time you write at least one new sentence.

I haven’t broken my chain, yet.  Thank you very much.

The other chain is something different.  I’m doing this one on my own, but I got the idea for it from the first chain.  Starting on April 5, I have been sending out one new query every day.  In the past I always found the idea of composing a good query a bit daunting.  To do it right, you really want to research the agent, check out their tweets, see if they have a blog and read it, look for any interviews they have been the subject of, and for sure review their page on their agency’s website to see what they are looking for and what they are definitely not looking for.  Plus, you know, what to include in your query letter and how to format it.  Most people send them out in batches of 5 or 10 at a time. I’d only done a couple of dozen total in a year of querying.

But there is this brilliant concept invented by Jessica Sinsheimer (@jsinsheim): Manuscript Wish List (#MSWL).  It started on Twitter as a yearly party where agents would tweet what kinds of books, specifically, they wanted to represent.  But it quickly became very popular began to be updated all day every day.  Fast-forward to the present, and the official Manuscript Wish List website ( is completely overhauled.  It is a place where agents can now post their entire profile – including their wish list – and it is completely searchable.  It also includes links to each agents official agency website and Twitter profile.

So, given this, I just pop over to the MSWL site on my lunch hour, filter for agents who represent middle grade, and run down the list until I find one looking for what I’ve got to offer.  Then I scroll through their Twitter feed, peruse their submission guidelines, and do a quick search for their blog.  Armed with this quickly-gotten information I can customize my standard query to punch up those aspects of mine and my daughter’s manuscript that match what this particular agent is seeking, then include our bios, a synopsis and/or chapters according to their guidelines. Ba-da-bing, ba-da-bang, Betty Boop!  One new query sent.

Done this way, a single query is no big deal, and I can produce a new one every day.  See, I’ve done this many:


I’ve already started getting feedback on these queries, mostly rejections.  So to help keep track of them I created these notations:

Q = Query sent.  P = Agent passed.  R = Agent requested a partial.  F = Agent requested a full.

With this shorthand in place, my query chain actually looks like this:


I don’t know how long I can actually keep this up.  There are only so many agents on the MSWL site that I like or who are looking for a book like my daughter’s and mine, so eventually I will come to the end.  At that point I will have to start looking elsewhere to find them.

Unless, of course, the inevitable happens and one of these agents offers to sign us.  Hint, hint?

  1. bethaman80 says:

    That sounds like an awesome resource. I’m definitely going to have to check it out when I get back to querying. Thanks!


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