Poetry & How to Write a Query Letter

As April is National Poetry Month, we spent some time talking poetry. Then we discussed how to write a query letter to a literary agent or publisher in an effort to get them excited about your writing.

April 11, 2019

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Audio Transcript


Writers Circle: Poetry & How to Write a Query Letter

Presented by Debbie Worman and Diane O’Neill

April 4, 2019

Debbie Worman: I want to welcome everybody to Writers Circle for our third session. So I'm very pleased to see we're up to 51 participants. As I said, my name is Debbie Worman and I'm one of the co-facilitators. I'm an instructor here at Hadley. My co-facilitator is Diane O'Neill. Diane, do you want to introduce yourself?

Diane O'Neill: Hi everyone. This is Diane O'Neill. I've been a learning designer with Hadley for almost 17 years now and I really like it. I'm really happy to be doing this group with Debbie because when I'm not working for Hadley I like to write. I write poetry, essays, and children's stories and I've been published a few times. So I'm just really excited that everybody is here and we have 50 people right now. This is great. Thank you.

Debbie Worman: I'll have to tell you, I'm very excited. Diane came up to me at one of our Hadley meetings and said, "Debbie, I would love to do Writers’ Circle with you." I was thrilled because I know Diane is an excellent writer and brings a lot of good resources to our group. So I'm very happy that we have her as one of the co-facilitators.

Debbie Worman: So before we start, we always have to do the housekeeping. We have to talk about muting and un-muting and hands up and all of that. So I'll let Diane take that away.

Diane O'Neill: Okay. Thanks, Debbie. Diane here. Debbie is going to keep everybody muted until somebody raises a hand. Okay, now how do you raise your hand? To raise your hand to show that you have a question or a comment, you press Alt-Y on a PC. You press command and shift and Y on a Mac. If you're calling from your phone you press star-9. If you're calling in from an app from your smartphone you'll find the button as you explore your screen.

Diane O'Neill: Again, if you want to talk make sure that you raise your hand and Debbie will unmute you. Again, I'll read those again. Alt-Y on a PC, command and shift Y on a Mac, and star-9 on your phone. Thanks, everyone.

Debbie Worman: Okay. So if you can jot that down somewhere, braille it or put that somewhere where you can remember it. We'll repeat it each time but it's important with a group this large that we keep everybody muted. It just helps with that background noise. Also, raising hands is fair to everybody so that everybody who wants to can have a time to talk. With this many participants, sometimes you don't always get a time to talk but you can save questions for next time.

Debbie Worman: So what we try to do in Writers Circle is we want this to be your group as much as possible. Diane and I often will bring topics to the group. But we also like to hear what you may have to share, so you're welcome to email us at any time with suggestions. My email address is my last name, which is W-O-R-M-A-N @hadley.edu. Diane, what's your email address?

Diane O'Neill: Mine is Diane, D-I-A-N-E @hadley.edu.

Debbie Worman: Okay. So you can email us at any time. We like your suggestions, we like your comments, we like your feedback, what's working, what's not working. If you have suggestions, we've heard some very good suggestions for topics that we're going to take into consideration. We also are going to line up some speakers. So stay tuned for that.

This month we thought it would be interesting because it's National Poetry Month. Who knew that poetry had its own month? But April seems to be it. National Poetry Month was started by the National Poetry, the academy ... I'm sorry, it was started by the Academy of American Poets. You people in Canada will be glad to know they also include you, so you're not excluded.

If anybody wants to explore their website, it's an excellent website, it's www.poets.org, poets, P-O-E-T-S. They have wonderful resources on their website. What was fun that I think is that you can sign up for a poem a day. If you like poetry it's a great way to expose yourself to new poems.

So in 1996, the Academy of American Poets decided to celebrate poetry's importance in our culture. So they've done that every year and they've been instrumental. Perhaps some of you who buy stamps have seen some of the stamps that have poets on them. This organization was instrumental in getting that started. The very first poet I think they had on a stamp was Langston Hughes, so that's exciting. So put writers together and you can accomplish a lot.

So the importance of National Poetry Month is to highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American and Canadian poets. It's to encourage the reading of poems, it's to increase attention to poetry and it's to encourage support for poets and poetry.

I know sometimes when I was in school when it got to poetry, there were a lot of hemming and hawing. Yeah, I think sometimes you like poetry or you don't like poetry. But the beauty of poetry is there's so many different styles and so we can pick what we enjoy.

Some of the activities they do suggest were to sign up for Poem a Day. I think that's a good suggestion. One that I really like was Put a Poem in Your Pocket Day. That is to just have a poem available and with some friends or at work to just recite the poem.

So one of our participants today has gladly agreed to share a poem with us. So Deborah, are you ready to share your poem? I have to find you to unmute you. So can you raise your hand Deborah and then I'll unmute you? Okay. So Deborah, to raise your hand if you're on the phone hit star-9. Okay, so that should be Deborah, that's 317.

Deborah: Are you there?

Debbie Worman: Yeah, we're here. Go ahead and start reading the poem.

Deborah: Okay. This is Deborah from Michigan and I'm sharing a poem that I found ... It was an article in an old Michigan history magazine about Edgar, middle initial A, Guest, G-U-E-S-T. He was a writer for the Detroit Free Press in the 1920s through the 1940s and he wrote a poem a day. He became very famous for his poems. I have one poem to read. It's titled, “It Couldn't Be Done”, by Edgar A. Guest.

Somebody scoffed, "You'll never do that. At least no one has ever done it." But he took off his coat and he took off his hat and the first thing we knew he begun it. With a lift of his chin and he bit as he grin without any doubt or quit it, he started to sing as he tackled the thing that couldn't be done, and he did it.” That's the poem.

Debbie Worman: Thank you, Deborah. I love it. I love the line he begun it. We all know ... Any grammar-phobe knows that's not correct English, but I love it. See, that's the beauty of poetry. You have leeway to do different things. So Deborah, thank you so much for sharing that.

Deborah: You're welcome and I will put myself on mute. Thank you so much.

Debbie Worman: Okay. I got you on mute. Okay. So I'm wondering what people feel about National Poetry Month. If you knew it was National Poetry Month if that excites you or if you could care less. What you feel, talk about maybe some of your favorite poets and why you enjoy them.

If you write poetry, maybe share a little bit about your interest in poetry. So I have one hand up and that's from Ann. So I will unmute you, Ann and you go ahead and share your comment.

Ann: Can you hear me?

Debbie Worman: Yes.

Ann: Okay, good. Well, actually, yeah, I knew that this month was National Poetry Month and I don't normally write poetry. But I've been listening to a podcast and a friend of mine who ... Sorry about that. But anyway, the podcaster is now a friend of mine and she's been putting out poetry challenges. So I have actually written, I wrote three yesterday and I've written two today and I'm starting to share them up on my blog. One in particular that I just wrote was about being inspired by dreams [inaudible 00:09:30] my dreams has inspired me to write my fiction. So it's kind of a fun and interesting thing. Like I said, poetry has always been hard for me. But now I'm getting out of my comfort-

Debbie Worman: Good for you. I like that you're challenging yourself and getting out of your comfort zone. Do you want to ... Do you feel comfortable sharing your blog site with the group or would you rather not?

Ann: It's annwritesinspiration, that's https:// A-N-N-W-R-I-T as in tango, E as in echo, S as in Sierra. I-N-S as in Sierra, P as in papa, I-R-A T as in tango, I-O-N as in November. The only reason I did some of the ... .com I'm sorry. the only reason I did some of the letters in phonetic is because some of those people who are on the phone may not get that if I don't.

Debbie Worman: Okay. Well, thank you for sharing that. If people didn't pick that up, we will share that on the resource list. Is that okay, Ann if we posted on Hadley's resource lists under the-

Ann: Yeah, that's fine. If you want me to, I can email you that.

Debbie Worman: That would be good and go ahead and do that and we'll get that up on the site. So thank you for sharing that. Next, we're going to have 1502. So, Ann, I'm muting you and we're going to unmute 1502. 1502 on last three digits, 6-3-4?

Marylin: Yeah, that's me. I didn't understand it. I'm Marilyn from Kentucky, I didn't understand the 1502. I don't know what that refers to.

Debbie Worman: Is that the last four digits in your phone number?

Marylin: No. Finally, they gave me 7-6-3-4 and that's the last four digits in my number. So I didn't understand the 1502 reference.

Debbie Worman: But you did understand 6-3-4?

Marylin: Yes, when they finally came through with that, I got it.

Debbie Worman: Okay. I'll use the first three numbers now. So we'll see how that works, sorry.

Marylin: Yeah, that for us phone people, that's probably going to be what we need.

Debbie Worman: Okay.

Marylin: I've been writing poetry for a long time and I put several poems in my book in 2012. But my favorite poets are Robert Burns and Robert Frost. But I don't write like either one of them.

Debbie Worman: You have your style, that's important.

Marylin: Well, I just beg and borrow from all the different forms that are out there. Our writing group has a kind of an open mic thing once a month on Monday and I just read a point there Monday night. It's about a 24-liner, so you may not want anything quite that long from me because I know the other one was more like a Limerick. It was a shorter poem. But poetry is so much fun. You can use it as a way to vent, you can use it as a way to play with words, almost like a crossword puzzle. You can enjoy the classics, there's just so much you can do with it. So I really do love it. It's one of the many things I like about writing it. It's not the only thing but it's one of many.

Debbie Worman: Yeah. You know what I like? I love the enthusiasm in your voice. You can tell-

Marylin: Well, thank you.

Debbie Worman: It's apparent that you like poetry. I like what you said about you can play with it because poems you can make them in any style you want. We all know E. E. Cummings didn't use capital letters. We know the stanzas of poems can be made into like a picture, sometimes. So you can be very creative with poetry. So thank you for bringing up that point. Thank you for your enthusiasm for poetry.

Marylin: Okay.

Debbie Worman: Okay. I'm going to mute you and we're going to go to 882. 882?

Abbie Taylor: I'm Abbie Taylor. Can you hear me?

Debbie Worman: Yes, Abbie, we can hear you.

Abbie Taylor: Okay. I don't know what the 882 refers to because I am calling or I'm using my PC. I should have been logged in as Abbie T. So anyway but anyway, here I am. I have been writing poetry for years, I also have a blog. Right now, this month, I am posting a poem a day on my blog. Most of the poems I'm posting are from other bloggers but every once in a while, I'll post something of my own. So anybody who's interested can go to Abbie's Corner, A-B-B-I-E-S-C-O-R-N-E-R.wordpress, W-O-R-D-P-R-E-S-S.com. Again, that's abbiescorner.wordpress.com. Thank you.

Debbie Worman: Well, that's wonderful. Do you mind if we share that on the Hadley website?

Abbie Taylor: I don't mind at all.

Debbie Worman: Okay. Well, we have a lot of creative people on this Writers Circle and so many people who are busy writing. But I want people who are newbies. I want people who are hesitant to write to speak up as well. We have a variety of participants and I always enjoy what people are doing. We have some very, very experienced writers and then we have people starting out. So that's what I like about the group. So Abbie, thank you for sharing your website.

Abbie Taylor: You're welcome.

Debbie Worman: Okay. How about if we go to 686? 686 are you there?

Alice: Hello. I'm Alice Massa and I'd like to wish everyone a happy National Poetry Month. I've been enjoying celebrating National Poetry Month on my website. Each weekday of April I have been and will continue to post a new poem, which I have written, followed by five prompts. To help some people who like to work with prompts to use the one of the five are a combination of the five prompts to write a poem of your own. Yesterday I posted a how-to for an Abecedarian poem. So if there are any of you out there who are interested in that form of poetry that has A through Z, at least 26 lines of poetry. With each line beginning with his subsequent letter of the alphabet, I have the information and some tips for writing an Abecedarian. Followed by a new Abecedarian that I wrote and then again five prompts. You can find a wide variety of prompts in a wide variety of poems, poetic styles that I'm sharing throughout this month of April. I've been writing this blog since I retired from teaching. The blog is http://alice A-L-I-C-E. Then the numeral 13 Word Walk and that's the name I give to my blog. W-O-R-D-W-A-L-K.wordpress. Spelled just like it sounds. W-O-R-D-P-R-E-S-S.com.

Alice: I would welcome all of you to check out my website. It's very accessible. I don't have any photos or graphics, whatever on it. It's just plain text, very easily accessible. I hope it's of interest to our new poets as well as those who are very experienced and published poets. Thank you.

Debbie Worman: Well, Alice, thank you for sharing all of that. I love everybody's enthusiasm. You can tell that there's a love for poetry here. If people aren't catching the websites, I'm going to ask people who are sharing websites and blogs, email me. My last name, Worman, W-O-R-M-A-N @hadley.edu. Give me those websites and we'll get them posted on the Hadley website. So people who are participants and people who can't join us can find you. If you're not comfortable having it published there, that's understandable.

Debbie Worman: Okay, so let's see, 686. Is there a 686 out there?

Kirsten: That was just Alice who just spoke.

Debbie Worman: Okay, so as I'm learning this technology, bear with me. Sometimes, I think I'm better than I am but I'm still learning, so thank you. Let's do 628. Is there a 628 on the phone? Okay, speak now or forever hold your peace. Okay, we'll move on to, let's see. 716. Is 716 there? Okay. So does anybody else have any questions or anything about poetry they would like to share? How about some of our new people, are people new to writing this poetry, something that you might want to share? Diane, did you have any comments you wanted to share about poetry?

Diane O'Neill: Diane speaking. Really quickly, I wanted to give another option as far as when you're raising your hand. Somebody just emailed it from a Mac to raise your hand. You need to do option Y. So I just want to let everyone know. But yeah, poetry is a lot of fun. I took a course online, a free course through the University of Iowa. They offered a free course and before then, I'd never written poetry. But that course really inspired me and I'd really never really even thought about writing in that genre but that course got me to writing a lot of poetry. So it's a lot of fun. Thanks, Debbie.

Debbie Worman: Okay, we have some hands up. I'm going to go with 628. I'm un-muting 628.

Kirsten: Hi, it's Kirsten from Rochester, New York.

Debbie Worman: Hi, Kirsten from Rochester, New York. What do you have to say about poetry?

Kirsten: So you called on me before and for some reason, I did not get through. Anyway, so I have to say that last month was my first time on the Writers Circle and it has incredibly inspired me. I hated poetry as a child because I was taught to interpret it in a particular way. When I was in graduate school that I really came to love the work and teaching of Liz Rosenberg, who's an upstate, New York poet. So she's one of my very favorites as well as T.S. Eliot and Archie Ammons. So I had the privilege of learning from them as well. It's been very much about inspiration and nature for me. That's been the source of a lot of my poetry. I'm a new writer, I'm not really published but taking time to be outdoors and to use my other senses has really been the meat and marrow of what I've put into poetry. I've loved to play with different formats and tend to be ... Whitman, my good Lord, how could I have forgotten Whitman?

But this circle also inspired me to start a blog last month. So I'd love to get ... It's brand new, it's weeks old but dearkirsten.com is my website with my blog. I would love to get some people starting to look at it. I'm very anxious and nervous and now that I know it's National Poetry Month, I may be putting some of my poetry up there.

Debbie Worman: That sounds good and don't be afraid to be nervous and anxious. Putting yourself out there is going to create those feelings and that's okay. Sometimes those are huge motivators and help get us going. So I'm just thrilled that you found that the Writers Circle has inspired you, that you started a blog. Again, please email me that address. If you feel comfortable, we'll share it on our website. So thank you so much. Let's see, how about 755? Okay. 755?

Olivia: Hello.

Debbie Worman: Hi. Yes, who's 755?

Olivia: I guess I am.

Debbie Worman: Okay. Who are you?

Olivia: This is Olivia Ostergaard I'm from Fresno, California. This is my first-

Debbie Worman: Hi, Olivia.

Olivia: Hi. This is my first time with this particular group. I wrote, not so much poetry, but I wrote a memoir and it was published by Xulon Press five years ago. About my 10 years during getting my guide dog and who I've just retired and the struggles I went through and what was together with my [inaudible 00:23:04]. As an FYI if you all ... I've been reading Writer Magazine for years and it is available on Talking Books. So you can go to the website and check out if you want to order magazines, put down the writer and it will come to you.

I'd been reading it for years and of course, it has articles on all different types of writing, including poetry because this is the poetry month and everything. I haven't gotten my April edition yet but I should be soon. But I have struggled with trying to do a blog. If anybody has any suggestions, boy would I like some? When you self-publish, just an FYI, it is extremely hard. Unless you have money for publicity, you're out on your own.

Olivia: I've been all over the media, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, the whole bit and with photos and everything from the book. I've been at a loss as to how to really get this off the ground.

Debbie Worman: Well, that's a really good question and Diane ... If you want to keep a record of ideas for future Writers' Circle, creating blogs, that would certainly fall into what we could talk about, don't you think?

Diane O'Neill: Diane speaking, I just made a note of that because that sounds like an excellent idea.

Debbie Worman: Yeah. So we're running up to four o'clock. There's several hands up. I want to call on a few more people and then we're going to jump into our second topic of the day, which is query letters. So I want to make sure we get a couple more questions in. There's a lot of hands up. I'll try and get a couple more.

Then Diane wants to talk about query letters today, which is an interesting topic as well. So let's go to, I have a 906. I'm un-muting 906.

Deborah: Okay. That's me, Deborah, I'm Michigan.

Debbie Worman: Okay. Did you have-

Deborah: That's me, Deborah?

Debbie Worman: Okay. What did you want to share, Deborah?

Deborah: Well, there was one little poem that came to me. The most poetry that ever came out of me was when I took the poetry course at Hadley. I wrote two books of poetry and short narratives that I self-published as I'm a private writer. So I don't write every day but things come to me sporadically and that's the way I write. But there was a little tiny poem that came to me out of nowhere and it's called, the title is Laundry. L.A. U-N-D-R-Y. The poem is Los Angeles in a downpour of rain on, it's a pun on the word laundry, L-A un-dry, Los Angeles un-dry, get it?

Debbie Worman: Got it, that's very clever, Deborah. Thank you for sharing that. I appreciate that. Okay, I'm going to-

Deborah: You're welcome.

Debbie Worman: Okay, thank you. Let's go to a couple more before we move to our next topic. How about 716? 716?

Donna Williams: Hello.

Debbie Worman: Hi, who's 716?

Donna Williams: Hello, this is 716,

Debbie Worman: Okay.

Donna Williams: I'm Donna, from Corner Brook, Newfoundland.

Debbie Worman: Recognize the voice, Donna, good to hear you.

Donna Williams: Yes, is that you, Debbie?

Debbie Worman: Yes, it's Debbie. What do you want to share about poems?

Donna Williams: So I wrote about ... A lot of my poems are ancient but I did write probably about three this year but not a whole lot because I've been busy doing everything else. But was stuck in the 80s that I wrote a poem about Labrador. I don't know if you people heard about Labrador. It's part of Newfoundland in Canada and it's a very cold climate. Like in winter, it could go down to like even 45 below zero. So can everybody hear me?

Debbie Worman: Yeah, we can hear you.

Donna Williams: Did you want me to read the poem I wrote about Labrador?

Debbie Worman: Why don't you hold onto that? We're running out of time today. But I appreciated what you shared concerning, using ... Somebody else had mentioned this too about being outdoors and using the environment and the sounds around us as inspiration. sometimes just being able to be outdoors, that can be very inspirational for writers. So I know I have quite a few more hands up but we do want to get to our other topic. If people can hold on to their thoughts about what they wanted to share. At some point, we're going to have a session where we just like throw everything out there.

So if you really have something you want to share, hold on to it, make a note of it and we'll be addressing that. I want Diane to have time today. Somebody last month had asked about query letters. So she's going to do some discussion about that. She's going to wrap up, let's say about 4:20, Diane.

Diane O'Neill: Sounds good.

Debbie Worman: Then we'll do some general ending up and then provide some prompts for people. So why don't you take it away?

Diane O'Neill: Okay. Thanks, Debbie. Yeah, a query letter. What is a query letter? Some of you may just want to write for yourselves and that is totally fine. But if you do want to get published in a magazine or you want to get a book published, a query letter is a very important tool. You spend all this energy writing your book or your poems or your story. You think, no, now I've got to write a query letter. The thing is though, the query letter is just, as far as getting published, the query letter is just as important. So although it's short, it's something you probably want to spend a lot of time on. I've had some success with some of my query letters so I can tell you how I structure mine. I did some research to see how some other people structure theirs and what are some important things.

But basically, a query letter is a business letter or it can be an email too but it's business. So when you write to the person, you want to have a formal tone in terms of using your Mr, Dear, Miss or maybe first and last name, Dear Jane Doe, whatever. You want to have that kind of structure to it. It's a lot like when you send a resume and you have a cover letter for your resume, it's kind of similar to that.

The query letter is the first thing that agent or editor is going to see of yours. It's going to have a big influence because editors and agents are super busy. They get so many query letters that when you ... That query letter is going to influence them. Even if you've sent a story along with the query letter. If they don't like your query letter they might not even looked at the first page of your story. They might but I'm just saying that's how important the query letter is.

So you want to have a professional tone so that they can tell you're a professional writer. That includes those of you that might be your first-time query. That's okay. You still want to have that professional tone because you're a writer even if you haven't been published yet, you're writing. Everybody in this group here is a writer, never forget that. But the first part, when I write a query letter after I address the person formerly. The first name and last or dear Mr or Miss.

The first ... Usually, I do a first paragraph is a hook if I'm sending one of my stories or novels. I basically ... The hook basically is something that's really going to grab the person reading it. Like, for example, if you've written a novel, what's a cliffhanger moment? You want to really grab the person. Your characters facing this horrible problem, what's going to happen? You want to have that kind of thing and it needs to be short. Just a few sentences, not very long at all. But just something to grab the person. So what's exciting about what you're submitting?

The next, what you also need. So you need the hook, you definitely need to hook. You then need to say, what the heck is it? Is it a novel? Is it a collection of poems? Is it a story? What's the genre? Is it non-fiction? Is it fiction? You're going to want to say what genre it is. Then you're going to want to say the word count. So you're going to want to have that in there. So yeah, the hook and what is it. Then you want a bio. Okay. That depends if you've been published, you want to put that in there and be specific. If you've won an award, be specific. Do you have a writing degree? Be specific. What if you've never been published? That's okay. In that case, in your bio, you could put something, for example, maybe you're writing about nature. Well, maybe, maybe you have some experience in nature. Put that in there.

But you don't really have to put anything, to be honest. It's fine to say thank you for considering this. But if you do have any credits like you have anything published, put that in there because again that may help as far as in noticing you.

Then you want to put the thanks and you end with a thanks. Thank you for your consideration, whatever. You want to make sure you include your contact information. If you're sending it as a hard copy letter, you'd put that as you would've in a business letter right on top. Your address and your phone number, email. You put that on top the way you would any business letter. If you're sending by email, I usually put all that information, the bottom under my name. My address, email, phone number and all that.

One thing when you do a query letter is that's the basic format and I looked at one site. They basically said, again, the basic elements are what you're selling, what's the hook, your bio, thanks, contact information and maybe some personalization. For example, maybe there's a reason you're submitting to this agent. Maybe you met this agent at a conference or maybe when you look in for information about the publisher, you find their publisher. For example, you wrote a book about nature. This publisher really enjoys publishing nature books. Say that in the query. It really ... A lot of agents really like it if you somehow show why in the world you're submitting to them. That you're not just, you just picked the name out of the hat.

I think I went to some kind of workshop where their agent was saying, "Hey, we're people, we want to be flattered. Sell us why you're submitting to." So sometimes I do this, sometimes I don't, it really depends. Again, how do you find where you're going to submit to? If you have internet access, you can do a lot of searching for sites, for agents, and for publishers. if you don't, there's the writer's market. They have an annual guide that they publish. If you go to the library, I know the Writer Magazine. Somebody mentioned that they have audio version. I'm not sure if they have a Braille version or not, but I know they're known for being pretty accessible. Every month they have something in the back of the Writer Magazine, they list different markets.

So those are some strategies. I'm trying to think what else to tell you. Again, it's a business letter. So there's some things you want to make sure you don't say. For example, don't mention that your best friend loved it. Don't mention that your family loves it. Again, that will not make you sound as professional as you are. Don't say that it took you 10 years to write because that again, that's more the mark of an amateur and you're a professional. Don't mention that you haven't been published. Just don't mention it at all because again, you're a professional. Let me say too, when you're sending out a query letter, don't feel overwhelmed by the fact if you haven't been published yet. Think of this, J.K. Rowling was not always published. Stephen King was not always published. Everybody starts out being unpublished, the greatest writers in the world. You might be the one of the greatest writers in the world, we all have potential.

If you send your query letter and it comes back and you get a rejection letter or you don't hear anything at all, don't let that stop you. A lot of writers, what they do is they try to have always have something in the mail and then they work on something else. That's not a bad strategy at all. But I remember once reading to an agent and she heard that somebody submitted to her and then they got rejected. They never submitted in any place again. She was horrified because, no, just never give up. Realize too, in this field, we face a lot of competition. Do you know that for an agent or an editor, do what percentage that they publish? Less than 1%. So if you really need to remember that. That's not to discourage you from submitting. That's saying, hey if you get a rejection, hey, you are facing some tough competition, you're going to try it again. The next time might be the one that gets you.

This isn't quite query related but this is something I always think of, it's kind of encouragement. I'm sure most of you have heard of Stephen King, the horror writer who makes billions and zillions of dollars and gets movies. He's pretty famous. Well, he wasn't always famous and he ... I think his first book, Carrie, was rejected so many times that he took and threw it in the garbage. From what I remember of the story, his wife literally pulled it out of the garbage can, handed it to him and said, "Try one more time." Needless to say, he tried one more time and, needless to say, he is now the Stephen King who is making oodles of money. He is very popular and very good. One thing to-

Debbie Worman: Diane, could you do me a favor? I think when I hear the word query, I'm trying to think of how to spell it.

Diane O'Neill: Yes, I'm sorry.

Debbie Worman: So for people who might want to do some searches-

Diane O'Neill: Yes.

Debbie Worman: Just spell the word for people so we know how it is spelled.

Diane O'Neill: Thank you so much. Q-U-E-R-Y. That's Q-U-E-R-Y.

Debbie Worman: Yeah. Why don't we take some questions or comments about maybe from people? It's about 4:10 now, so we have-

Diane O'Neill: That's good, yeah.

Debbie Worman: Yeah. We have about 10 minutes to take some questions and-

Diane O'Neill: Thank you, Debbie. Yeah, that would be great.

Debbie Worman: I will mute and unmute and you can answer. How's that for a deal?

Diane O'Neill: That sounds wonderful, thank you.

Debbie Worman: So we have a hand up and that is 634. 634 I'm un-muting you.

Diane O'Neill: Hi, what's your question?

Marylin: Hi, it's not a question, it's a comment. I'm Marylin in Kentucky, again. If you have heard about magazine you think you'd like to write for, it's important to get somebody if you can't do it yourself: go to the website, see what the content is, make sure you're a match before you write a query letter. Make sure your material is going to fit in. Check that website out to see what they say they want in a query letter because you don't want to overdo it. They won't read it all if you get too long. That's all.

Diane O'Neill: Diane speaking. That's an excellent point. Yeah, that is one thing I was going to mention that when you find out what they want. Some people just want the query letter, some people want maybe five sample pages. Some people might want you to submit the whole book. So see what they want, thank you.

Debbie Worman: I have Cecilia. Do you have a comment or a question?

Cecilia: Hi,

Debbie Worman: Hi.

Cecilia: Hi. This is Cecilia from Guam, my first time.

Debbie Worman: Great.

Cecilia: I was wondering. So the query so nowadays is it ... I have not submitted a query in years but I used to do a hard copy. Is it done electronically now?

Diane O'Neill: Diane speaking. That's a good question. It's both. Some places just take hard copy submissions, some places just do email submissions, some places do both. So the best thing to do is either go to the website or consult a book like the Writers Market. Find out what they want. That's a good question.

Cecilia: One more.

Diane O'Neill: Sure.

Cecilia: Are you submitting to an agent or to the publisher?

Diane O'Neill: Diane speaking. That's a good question. It depends what you want. It doesn't hurt to have an agent because someplace, some of the top houses only accept from agents. But then there are a lot of smaller companies that do. Personally, I submit to both because I don't know if I'm going to get an agent. So sometimes I submit to an agent and sometimes to a publisher. I kind of do it alternately.

Cecilia: Thank you.

Debbie Worman: Thank you and thank you for joining us. I hope you come back, Cecilia.

Diane O'Neill: Definitely.

Debbie Worman: Okay. I have 458.

Donna Williams: That's me.

Debbie Worman: Okay. Who's me?

Donna Williams: I'm Donna Williams and I've spoken before. I'm from Pennsylvania, I just have two comments. People have been talking about the Writer Magazine. The one thing I want to tell people is you can get it from BARD as a direct download. Somebody was saying they didn't get their issue this month or something yet. if I believe correctly, I think it's up there on the newly added books and magazines section. So that's something that people want to look on BARD, they can get that from there, as soon as it's published. Second comment I want to make about the Writer is, if you're reading, it's a good magazine. But if you're reading it, pay attention because some of the stuff is outdated. I know that didn't really have to do with query letters but I think it's important to share that because you have to pay attention to the stuff in there. I noticed that when I was reading it. I do enjoy the magazine but some of it is outdated. So that's what I wanted to say.

Diane O'Neill: Well, thanks for sharing that.

Debbie Worman: That's how we learn about resources. I think we have so many people participating that we can share resources. Some resources work for some people, other people catch things, like outdated things. So it's worth a try. Try and see how it fits for you. As I said before, on Hadley's website under the Writers Circle, we will be listing resources. If you have a good resource that you think should be up there, let us know. Diane and I will talk about it. We don't want the resource list to become overwhelming but we do want to put some good things up there for you guys.

Debbie Worman: So did I do 458? 458? So 458, I'll give you one more chance, 458.

Donna Williams: You keep calling me and I just talked.

Debbie Worman: Well, okay. Well, then I will mute you and go to 716. Okay.

Donna: Hi, this is Donna, I just want to know how would I know what magazines to read, to find out which ones would probably accept the poetry?

Diane O'Neill: Diane speaking. That's a good question. The writer is one source. Another magazine is Poets and Writers. They sometimes give some good examples of places to submit to. But I'm not really sure, I don't know about the accessibility of that. I don't know. That's something I can try to find out. I'm trying to think. Sometimes if you go online, you can do some searches. To see what ... Trying to think what else.

Debbie Worman: Let's say maybe somebody that has their hand up, maybe has something.

Diane O'Neill: Maybe have some ideas too, great.

Debbie Worman: Let's see. I'm going to unmute, 716. Who's 716?

Donna: Hello, this is 716, I already spoke.

Debbie Worman: Okay. Man, it must be getting late in the day for me. I'm sorry. Okay, I'm going to mute you, Dana and we're going to Abbie.

Abbie Taylor: Okay, now you've got the right number.

Debbie Worman: Okay.

Abbie Taylor: Yes.

Debbie Worman: Okay, Abbie, hey. I give you right at the end of this session. Go ahead.

Abbie Taylor: Okay, I just have a couple of quick things to share. First of all, you've mentioned Poets and Writers and it is available from BookShare in accessible format. Also, somebody was asking about blogging. I actually did a presentation on blogging for a sighted writers group several years ago. I would be happy to do a similar presentation for you if you would like. Diane or Debbie, I'm sorry. I will be emailing you with my blog address so then you'll have my address. You can get in touch with me.

Debbie Worman: Yeah. Would you put your phone number on there too and then you and I can talk about possibly doing a session on Writers Circle?

Abbie Taylor: You bet I can do that.

Debbie Worman: Okay, sounds good, Abbie. Thank you.

Abbie Taylor: Thank you.

Debbie Worman: Okay. How about 5 ... Let's say 556.

Rhonda: Hi, this is Rhonda in Wisconsin.

Diane O'Neill: Hi.

Rhonda: Hi. Poets and Writers is available, the current issue and the previous issue from NFB-Newsline and that also has a mobile version. They're working on how you can get it by your Smart Speaker as well.

Diane O'Neill: Thank you. That's great to know. Again, that has a lot of listings of competitions you can enter and magazines. They have a lot of articles too on writing, which are very helpful. Thank you.

Debbie Worman: Well, Diane, aren't you impressed with the wealth of resources these people have?

Diane O'Neill: I definitely am.

Debbie Worman: I'm blown away.

Diane O'Neill: I definitely am.

Debbie Worman: I'm learning something every step of the way here. So 764 I'm un-muting you.

Speaker 14: I want to know whether you submit to one agent or publisher at a time and how long you wait before you submit to someone else?

Diane O'Neill: That's an excellent question. Different publishers are different. Some people want you just to submit to them and wait. Others are fine with simultaneous submissions as long as you let them know that you're doing that. So the best thing to do is to check the website or to check the Writers Market or the writer and see. They usually too, when they have their submission guidelines online or in the Writers Market. They'll list how long it takes them to answer.

For example, some magazines or publishers will say, well, we'll respond in three months. Personally, if they say they'll respond in three months, I usually give them a little bit longer before I check to them. I might give maybe five months and then I'd send a very polite email or hard copy letter. Saying, "Hey, hello. I submitted to you when in October or whatever. I'm just curious if you've made any decision. Thank you, I appreciate your consideration." Then I wait a little longer and if I don't hear back, I just kind of put in the folder to remind myself. I did submit to them, but then I start submitting again. That's my process.

Debbie Worman: Okay. Angelina, I'm going to unmute you.

Angelina: Hey, all right.

Debbie Worman: Okay.

Diane O'Neill: Hello.

Angelina: Hi. I feel very privileged to be at this meeting of poets, writers. You've all answered my one question about making agent inquiries and stuff like that, which was great. I'm also self-published with one book and ... I'm trying to remember what the question was because I was fighting with the raise hand button because it wouldn't work with the key command.

Debbie Worman: Okay, do you have a question or a comment because we're running out of time? So I just want to give-

Angelina: No, we can move on because I forgot what I was going to ask. If I remember, I'll email you.

Debbie Worman: Yeah, if you remember-

Diane O'Neill: That sounds great.

Debbie Worman: That's great, okay. So I think there's one more hand up. 764, did we call on you already? 764? Okay. So I hope you enjoyed the discussions today. I think we covered a lot in an hour. It always amazes me how much we get accomplished. So I appreciate everybody's comments. I appreciate those people who shared poems, who shared resources, who shared questions. I also appreciate the listeners. If you didn't get a chance to have your hand up or if you're more of the kind of person who enjoys listening, we appreciate that too.

Debbie Worman: We are running out of time. I would take a couple more questions. It can be general questions, it could be topics for future. We're going to do that for just a couple minutes and then Diane is going to share a writer's prompt that you can be using for the next month. Our next meeting is…we always meet on the second Thursdays of the month. So next month that will be May, 9th. So mark your calendars. So we'll take a couple more questions and then I'm going to close with Diane giving a prompt for the month. Let's do 511.

Deanna: Okay, I think that's mine. my name is Deanna [inaudible 00:50:03]. I've been making up stuff since I was a kid pretty much. But I'm very, very bad at promoting it, most of it stays on my computer. I think that I am getting some help from my local library services. The librarians there can do some research. So she's given me a list of publishers that have published work on the topic that I'm trying to promote a book on.

It is a book of memoir. It's 50 years of walking with friends. It's about my nine guide dogs starting in 1968 to the present.

Debbie Worman: How interesting.

Deanna: It has some elements because 1968 was the midst of the Flower Child era. I arrived on campus with my long braids and long skirts and moccasins because I'm Native American. I don't want to say [inaudible 00:51:09]. So I was the furthest thing you can imagine from a Flower Child or a psychedelic urchin. So it's about culture shock about a lot of things.

Debbie Worman: Okay. So I encourage you to keep joining Writers’ Circle and maybe you'll get that motivation to do a query letter.

Deanna: But that's what I was going to suggest is make friends with your local librarian because they will do research for you. I've used them for like checking the dates on a timeline for a children's story I was writing. It had elements that were historical for my childhood and I wanted to be sure I had the dates right for the age of the child in the story. As I said, she's just sent the list of places that might be interested in my book.

Debbie Worman: Yeah, so that's a very good suggestion. Don't forget those librarians, they want to help you. That's what they're there for. I think that's an excellent suggestion. Thank you. let's take 471.

Tammy: Hi, this is my first time with the Writers’ Circle, my name is Tammy. I guess I'm just curious, I've self-published on Amazon my first children's book. But I'm wondering if we could talk about marketing and how to go about that. At this point, I've sold very few books and I'm doing everything I can think of to increase but it's hard. The other question too is if you have self-published, is it at all advisable to send out a query letter to try and get that same book published through a publishing house or something so that you would have more exposure? I'm just curious about that.

Diane O'Neill: Yeah, Diane speaking. I'm not sure if you can submit a self-published novel to a regular publisher. I can check it and see and find out what you guys know at the next meeting. But one thing that I know a lot of times there are awards for self-published books. So that might be something to check into. Maybe ask a librarian because I do know that every so often there's awards for them. Self-published books is a lot more common nowadays and a lot more prestigious. So that might be a thing to do.

Diane O'Neill: But I was thinking, Debbie, maybe we might want to have marketing be maybe in the future, one the topics.

Debbie Worman: Yeah. Well, I'm counting on you to keep a list of ideas, Diane. So write that down there.

Diane O'Neill: I'm doing this, I just wrote that down. Blogging and marketing.

Debbie Worman: Yeah, I do apologize. There's a number of hands up but it's already 4:28. So my suggestion is hold on to your questions, your comments, and resources. We will pick this line of discussion up next month. There seems to be a lot of interested in getting published. I don't want to make that our focus of Writers’ Circle because some people write for their own pleasure. We'll talk about things like journaling and things like that as well. But let's pick this topic up next time if that's okay with everybody. I'm going to let Diane end with a writer's prompt. I will just say I appreciate everybody who's joined us. I appreciate your comments, I appreciate your resources, helping each other out. I like how you're right there and listening to each other.

For those who don't participate by putting their hands up, you are participating by listening and we appreciate that. So remember, you can always go to Hadley's website. This is recorded. You will find all the sessions that we have recorded on there as well as the list of resources. So I thank you, everybody. I will catch you next month and Diane will sign us off with a writer's prompt.

Diane O'Neill: Hi, Diane speaking. Actually, maybe two prompts if that's okay with Debbie. First prompt number one, write a story or a poem about a storm. Prompt number two, write a story or a poem about friendship. So have fun writing. Happy writing.

Debbie Worman: Take care, everybody. Thank you for joining us and we'll catch you next month.

Diane O'Neill: Bye, everyone.