Oh my goodness, oh my goodness! It's January 6th in my time zone and Author Mentor Match's submission window opens on the 12th. There is so much to do in so little time!
I'm submitting my book Son of the Siren in hopes of finding a mentor who can help me with revisions and querying...but mostly revisions.
The submission packet involves:
An application (you can see some of the questions here, but the application isn't open until the submission period)
A query letter
A 1-2 page synopsis
50 pages of your manuscript, or the first 3 chapters (whichever is longer)
I have tried to build my application package over the past week or so, and it's good practice for eventual submission to agents, since it requires a query letter and synopsis.
The Query Letter
Query letters tend to be written on a single page, and I went over by one line (my name where my signature goes is on a second page). Even with more editing it wasn't enough to nail the spacing...and then I saw that the query letter is to be copied and pasted into the body of an email, so I'm SAFE!
I'm pretty happy with my query letter. The only thing missing is the final word count because I'm still revising! AAAHH! But my query letter includes the main characters, the main story idea, ending on a bit of mystery, and comps.
I hesitated to comp books specifically, so I comped authors, saying the book was good for people who read Holly Black, Elizabeth Lim, and Ashley Poston. Why these authors? Holly Black writes about the Fae, and my book has them; Elizabeth Lim wrote two books that feature the same fairy tale elements in my own (the three gowns from Donkeyskin/Allerleirauh are what need to be spun in Spin the Dawn; Six Crimson Cranes is based on the Wild Swans). Lastly, Ashley Poston writes contemporary YA (like Geekerella) but I'm specifically thinking of her book Among the Beasts and Briars as something akin to my own. They both have transforming fox friends, too.
Funnily enough one of the application questions they previewed on AMM asks you to comp your books, so I went ahead and listed books by those authors anyway. I don't like comping books though because I think my writing style doesn't match those authors I mentioned...more like our content is similar. And I don't know if that's ok when you make comparisons to another author's work. I'm basically learning as I go with this.
The only thing that's pending about the query letter (besides word count) is whether or not I should put my content warning there or in my application. I emailed AMM about it and haven't heard back yet...in my application questions I pre-drafted, I stuck content warnings there, but I don't know if it is better to put it in my query letter immediately. I feel like it interrupts the flow there, so I'm hoping including it in the application will be enough.
The 1-2 Page Synopsis
Thank God we were allowed to make our synopsis two pages, because there was zero chance I'd be able to describe the book in one page! It took me several edits to get it down to two pages. While I was drafting the first version I was coming up onto a fourth page, so in the middle of that I stopped what I was doing and started again. It took me three tries to get it down to two pages. And what was so difficult about it was that I had to leave a lot of characters and side adventures out, particularly my favorite scenes in Elythia and their main characters: the fae rulers Lord Iesin and Lady Ariana; the giantess Bella Morgana; and the monstrous Green Man.
I had my developmental editor, Katie Kenyhercz, review the synopsis since she was already familiar with the book, and she gave it a seal of approval, so now I can relax that I have this done. She said I hit all the main characters and main plot points, so...woohoo! I did it!
First Three Chapters/50 pages
This was the easiest to prepare. The first three chapters come out at 60 pages, and they needed little revision (I'm quite happy with them, and the first chapter has been reviewed many times by many people). The submission looks pretty clean, and it ends on an interesting note of conflict/bad news, so I hope that will propel potential mentors into selecting it.
These aren't actually available until the submission period opens, but AMM previews some of them here to help writers prepare ahead of time.
I'm torn on some of these questions and how much I should reveal about myself. One of the mentors I selected mentioned something about working with neurodivergent authors so I thought I should disclose my bipolar disorder and how that's made writing difficult for me at times...particularly with producing work regularly and in a decent timeframe. I think guidance in this area would be particularly helpful, so I thought I should mention it for that potential mentor in case I'm selected. But...mentioning bipolar disorder has hurt me before.
When I made it to the applicant's weekend for NYU's MFA in Musical Theatre Writing program, I had openly disclosed my bipolar disorder in my application, and it was the dominant topic of my interview, and it felt like it might've hurt my chances with the way it was discussed. I'm wondering with AMM if I'm making the same mistake.
So...I may revisit my draft of answers and make some tweaks with how much I divulge. Then again, the mentorships seem designed to help authors through their work and their process, and my bipolar disorder very much affects that, so perhaps it's ok to mention it after all. 🤷
The other part that I found a little tricky was how much to mention about the book again. One of the questions flat out says, "tell us a little about your book..." and instead of re-pitching it or summarizing it again, I discussed the fairy tales that inspired it, why they were selected, the type of story I want to tell and the major theme of Son of the Siren, which is consent. I'm technically talking about the book, but I don't know if I was supposed to summarize it one more time or not. I mean, we have a query letter and synopsis that does this already, so I hope how I discussed the book will be good enough.
Trying Not to Panic
On Twitter there's been a lot of publicity for Author Mentor Match, especially with #AMMParty, which I've forgotten to participate in because I'm crappy at Twitter. But I keep seeing the writers I follow talking about it, so I know the competition is going to be substantial. And I'm freaked out by it, to be honest.
My self-esteem about my book is running low because of the feedback I've gotten on it from friends and beta readers being super inconsistent, and I'm hoping I'm selected for Author Mentor Match to get a final set of eyes on the book before I query it to publishers. I've made significant changes to pacing since that was the main complaint (I was told it was too fast), and also changed the nature of the siren spell and the "final confrontation" between Lirien and the Queen in the hopes of satisfying the beta reader who gave the harshest critique of the book. I'm praying that I can get a mentor I can bounce my concerns and worries off to, and get a sort of sanity check on the book, because so far, the critiques are all over the place and I just don't know what to listen to.
If I don't get picked, I'll be disappointed...but I'll start querying agents anyway. I feel like seeking out agents is going to take a long time so it doesn't hurt to start, and my book will have been fully revised before sending it out anyway. And if I get an agent to represent me and get a publishing deal, it's not like the book won't be reviewed by an editor again. I just want AMM to help me make the manuscript good enough for agent submission, and to help me make a strong relationship with another author that will last for a long time, where we can mutually support each other. Writing, and writing alone, is very hard.
Please wish me luck on my endeavor! I'm so nervous! And I only have six days to finish revisions, eek!