For writers of book-shaped things
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Welcome, brave souls, to the first edition of my newsletter. I hope it will serve a dual purpose: to update those who may be interested in my books and projects, and to share the tips, advice and resources I've accumulated and learned over my years in the publishing world. I've been kicking around the YA online community since 2011 and love to help others where I can. Until I have a book to announce, etc. this newsletter will primarily be chock full of advice and resources for aspiring writers.

Some of the projects I'm involve with that I may feature/highlight here:
Author Mentor Match
DragonCon YA Literature Track
/r/YAwriters Reddit
UpvoteYA Podcast

Author Mentor Match

If you're here via Author Mentor Match, welcome, and you may already know this news, but for everyone else: we WILL be holding a round two, and it will take place in late Spring (think: April/May). We'll be expanding to include Middle Grade, in addition to Young Adult, and adding mentors!  So if that sounds up your alley and you have a a complete or near complete manuscript--start polishing! We'll be announcing our new crop of mentors in March.

We also have a new website URL! Bookmark & keep up with our hashtag #AuthorMentorMatch or #AskAMM

Query Basics

I. Love. Queries. LOVE THEM. Most people don't feel the same way, which I totally understand! A query is essential for any writer who wishes to find an agent, but not everyone is a natural at marketing--which is what a query is.  A pitch for your book. You can have a great book, but if the query doesn't sing, agents won't read it.

So how do you nail your query? Some of my top tips:

  • Think about back cover copy for some of your favorite books. Great cover copy gets across character, conflict and stakes--and gets you to open up and start reading. That is exactly what a good query does for an agent.
  • Focus on your main character. State their age, and give the agent a sense of who they are, what they want and what is standing in their way. Character-driven queries are winners and conflict and stakes are key.
  • Remember: the Book, the Hook, and the Cook. The three main elements you need: what's your book about (Book), why should someone read it (Hook), and who are you? (Cook) But the author is the least important part of the query: limit talking about yourself to no more than a short paragraph, which comes AFTER the book/hook.
  • The #1 question an agent asks themselves when reading your query: "why should I care?" You need to give them a compelling reason! Demonstrating conflict & stakes is key, as is making them care about your main character and what they face.
An oldie but a goodie, I go into more detail and also talk about comps and your bio in this post from 2013. If you need a place to post your query for feedback, try the QueryTracker forums (per below!) and on /r/YAwriters. OR this week only, try the WriteOnCon forums. They're open now!
Download my "Query Basics" guide, which includes a breakdown of a successful query, so you can see how to put all the pieces together. Includes querying do's & don'ts. This is a version of the worksheet I created for the DragonCon Young Adult Literature Track & features analysis of several successful queries, including those by Author Mentor Match mentors.
Netflix's One Day At A Time reboot is the family sitcom I didn't know I needed. It premiered in early January and I gave it a try and promptly LOST MY MIND on Twitter. Seriously, this show is amazing and covers a LOT of ground. The family is Cuban American, the mom is a veteran, RITA MORENO DANCES A LOT, and it tackles complex, current issues such as religion, immigration, PTSD, veteran's issues, LGBTQ identity, family acceptance and more. In every episode, I laughed AND cried, and the performances are Emmy worthy. I hope both Rita Moreno and Justina Machado get the nominations they deserve. It takes a bit of adjustment to get used to the old multi-cam sitcom set-up, but it's worth it. The majority of ODaaT's writing staff is Latinx, female and/or queer and it SHOWS. The show feels modern and just full of heart. Binge it ASAP!

Querying Writer

Looking to query agents? My favorite resource by far is You can use it to search for/find agents, keep track of who you want to query/have queried, and see where agents are with others' queries. It's completely free, though for just $25 for a year, you get access to QT's premium tools. If you LOVE data/are a Ravenclaw (like me!), these tools are invaluable. You're able to see when other QT members queried, when the agent responded, and what that response was. It's a great way to get a sense of how quickly agents are replying and where they seem to be in their queue. PLUS: QueryTracker has a great forum, also totally free, where you can connect with other writers and ask questions.
Do you like royalty, murder, and lots of snow? Then this 700+ page history of the Romanovs may be for you! I'm in research & mood mode for a new book, which means I'm devouring some non-fiction. Simon Sebag Montefiore's history of the Romanov dynasty is a dense, layered read--there were a LOT of scheming tsars and tsarinas, mental illness, murder, plots and parties. I've been reading since early December, almost nightly, and I'm only just getting to Nicolas II and the downfall of the empire. If you like history, especially royal/Russian history, I highly recommend it.
Copyright © 2017 Alexa Donne, All rights reserved.

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