Social Media & Being an Author

Sorry for the lack of posts lately! I was on a (much needed) vacation to California! The need for vacations to take a step back from your work is a topic for an entirely different post, but I can sum it up to this: sometimes it’s necessary to not think about your novel, to escape and have new experiences which will influence your writing, and to be in a more sublime environment so when an agent rejection pops up in your email, you take it in stride and order another wine sample! 😉

Today, I wanted to focus on a subject that has been giving me major headaches–the dichotomy between being an artist and thus trying to be a free spirit while at the same time being cognizant of the pressing need to create an online presence. This need for a writer’s platform necessitates the use of social media. Writers, as a rule, hate social media. We would rather be writing! However, our ultimate goal is to be read, and to be read and gain notice in today’s world means hashtagging and blogging our way to fame. Hopefully that prospect turns everyone’s stomachs as much as it does mine. It is a very imposing goal; in the millions of individuals out there on the internet, how do you make a difference?

It’s a question I, unfortunately, cannot answer in this post. But I do welcome good suggestions! The first step for me is simply, getting out there. One of my New Year’s resolutions this year was literally: “Tweet less.” Obviously, that is not going to fly. I have been trying to force myself to tweet more lately, and have gone to excessive use of hashtags. Today, I activated a Facebook account (under much mental stress), and a LinkedIn page. I am looking into #QueryKombat, which appears to be a great way to get some exposure as well as potentially awesome contacts with agents and editors! The Internet is a crazy, intimidating place, but I hope to do my research and find some success in it.

I want to get the word out soon because I am going to be doing something very exciting here on the blog. I am going to be posting sample chapters of Capacitance! I want the novel to get exposure and hopefully build momentum. Stay tuned on chapter one coming soon!

With that being said, follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@elisemarie52), and Facebook (Elise Hardenburger)! And comment below with any tips how you got your online following started. 🙂

Query Week!

Today marks the day I started sending out the first of the dreaded query letters to literary agencies! While rejection is to follow, I am sure, I am glad I have finally settled on a query letter format to go with for each individual email I send. I plan on querying 10 agencies this week, and perhaps 10 more next week. I have read conflicting views–some sites say to query around 10 at a time, while others say that 50 is better for the initial round. I am starting large and working my way down; for example, today I queried agents at Trident, Writer’s House, and Janklow & Nesbit. I also sent my synopsis and requested chapters to the agent from the LKG Agency who requested them at the conference.

The most time consuming part of querying–after you have your hook and mini-synopsis constructed–is researching the agents you’ve decided to query. It takes time to narrow down which agent in each agency will be right for you and find some little detail of evidence to support this which can be added to your query letter to give it a personal touch, but I am sure that showing you’ve done your homework makes your query stand out to the agent reading it.

Here is the query letter I finally settled on sending out (excluding the personalized opening paragraph); it is not perfect, but I think I could have done a million drafts and never felt fully confident!

Mara is a university student of genetic engineering who has just discovered a deadly DNA mutation in users of Meditrinum—a genetic enhancement drug used by the government, society’s elite, and Mara herself. Faced not only with her own impending death, but the potential destruction of society as a whole, Mara’s ultimate focus is to develop a cure for the mutation before time runs out.


However, things get more complicated when Mara meets Runey—a shrewdly personable design student with a hidden agenda. A member of an underground government resistance organization, Runey has been tasked with the mission to find out what Mara is working on through any means necessary—specifically, by making her fall in love with him.

Under increasingly threatening demands for results from the ruthless leader of his resistance group, Runey endeavors to reveal Mara’s secrets—while keeping a few of his own. Although Mara tries to remain focused on curing the impending mutation, she finds herself growing closer to Runey. Despite her internal struggle to keep her distance, Mara falls in love with Runey and tells him about the mutation—after this disclosure life is never the same for either one as both Mara and Runey realize the stakes are much higher than they ever expected and the distinction between right and wrong is not as clear as they once thought.

 CAPACITANCE is the first of a planned trilogy set in the dystopian future on a university—creating a setting which is a marriage of the unknown and the familiar. The manuscript is complete and full or partial submission is available upon request.

Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Elise M. Hardenburger

I googled “how to write a query letter” and found a lot of great examples; many of which were structured in short paragraphs such as above. I think this allows for points to be emphasized and clarified, allowing for a presentation with more impact. Hopefully, this is a correct assumption! Call me crazy, but I am looking forward to seeing how this all turns out–even a rejection imparts a lesson that I need to try a different tact. Stay tuned!

Conference Contemplations

This past weekend was a big step in my career as a writer–I attended my first writers’ conference! It was the Henderson Writers’ Group conference in Las Vegas; the crowd was small (limited to 150 people), the classes offered were a mix of business and craft, and the faculty was interspersed with interesting individuals. It was a good first conference, in my now slightly more qualified opinion; since it was relatively small, it was not too overwhelming, yet it still offered the opportunity to make some influential connections with agents!

I will start with the pros of the conference. The first and foremost bonus is getting to pitch to agents. Yes, it’s scary, and intimidating–but do it! When I arrived at the conference I didn’t know that formal pitches were an option, but quickly found myself signed up to pitch to two agents and two small press editors. Did I panic slightly? Of course. But I simply reminded myself that I know my book and am confident in my book, and it went just fine. In fact, all of the agents and editors requested either partial or full manuscript after my pitch! I had a good experience, but that is not solely why I advise authors to take the plunge and pitch at conference–you should do it because chances are relatively limited for you to run into agents during breaks and such. Before I attended the conference, I had read the opposite advice which told me it’s better to try and casually run into agents and spark conversation. However, after having been to the conference, I have to say that is leaving a lot to chance. If there is a chance to get your name down for a (no matter how small) amount of time to talk to an agent or publisher about your book–do it!

The next pro for me was that I met a potentially great friend/colleague; we met at the breakfast section of the day, and ended up being in the same class sessions, so we got a lot of chances to get to know one another and talk about each others’ books. Now we plan to email regularly and exchange critiques and editing advice. This isn’t to say that I just met one person and stuck to only talking to them all day–I talked to a lot of different people, and that in itself was a pro. Meeting fellow writers is always interesting.

Now, the cons. First and foremost, I was already knowledgeable on most of the information presented in the classes. Most of this information is accessible on great websites such as AgentQuery and Writers Digest. Due to my extensive research on querying and agents after I finished my novel, I had stumbled across most of, if not all, the information presented in the class sessions (I stuck to mostly the business/querying type of presentations, so I can’t speak as much to the craft sessions). Thus, for me the conference was a learning event, but not in the sense of the structured classes.

The second con I will list is the inaccessibility of the agents that were present at the conference. The only time I saw an agent outside of the pitch session room was when they were teaching their classes. This made it difficult to interact with them (which was most likely by design, at least in the case of one particular agent!), so had I stuck to my original plan which was to organically strike up conversation, I would have been sorely disappointed. Like I said above, the pitch sessions saved my weekend from being disappointing!

Now that I have attended my first conference, I have been getting asked whether or not I will attend another one. The answer is “probably.” I think I will be more selective in the conferences that I attend; I want them to be a bit more high profile. Now that I know more about agencies and agents I may want to target, I can look out for conferences they may be attending. I will be looking to see what kind of pitch opportunities will be available. There are a couple high profile events that I will consider–namely, the New York Pitch Conference and the San Francisco Writers Conference. However, right now, I am switching gears and will be exclusively focusing on my first round of querying agents; I sent out my first materials requested email today to an agent who requested a synopsis and partial, so I am very excited about that (excited, but also fully prepared to wait for a response or simply never get one). Aside from querying, I will, of course be diving back into my work on Inductance; I think getting back in the flow of writing might be a little tricky after my mini-vacation, but I am excited to ebb back into the story!

Writers Conference Packing List

This is a post that most likely will become a before and after comparison in two parts as I will probably need to post once I get back regarding what I forgot/should have brought. However, I noticed a couple followers mentioning they have not attended conferences, but might in the future, so I will give you a little cheat sheet summarizing my list things I plan to bring after extensively scouring the web for tips.

Of course I am bringing the obvious things: pen and paper, business cards, etc. I am also bringing three copies of my synopsis and one copy of my first ten pages. I don’t know if anyone will actually ask to see them, but I want to have them on hand–it’s better to be prepared. One other item that I stumbled upon yesterday was a One Page. A one page is just like it sounds–one page in which you state your name, bio, contact info, book title, word count, tag line, one paragraph synopsis, target audience, and series description (if applicable). I thought this was such a great idea that I immediately threw one together! I included a picture on mine, and used textboxes for blocking it out and including pops of color–best of all, I matched the fonts, color scheme and picture to my business cards for a professional, coordinated look. I plan on bringing ten copies of my one page with me to the conference as I think it will be the most distributed piece of information.

Finally, I am going to bring a copy of my manuscript. I read a lot of conflicting views on this choice, but what stood out to me was the advice to bring it along just in case. Being the type of person I am, I would simply rather lug around a 275 page manuscript all day than miss out on the opportunity to give it to an agent who might request it! My soon to be aching shoulder will probably argue me on the advisability of this decision, but I am sticking to it. On another note, I read a lot of disturbing advice saying not to stalk agents, sneak your manuscript into their bags, or corner and pitch to them in the bathroom. To me, I find this advice laughable as it is purely following the laws of common sense and courtesy…but I saw this similar admonishment on SEVERAL websites! I truly hope I don’t see any examples of that embarrassing behavior this weekend, and I can assure you all I don’t intend to be so aggressive with my manuscript. In fact, I fully expect it to stay in my purse and travel back home with me.

That’s what I will be carrying along with me in my (obviously gigantic!) purse this Saturday. As far as the outfit to coordinate with said purse…well, I haven’t gotten that far yet! Unfortunately this lack of wardrobe selection is troubling me more than my lack of pitch preparation. However, I am of the firm belief that my pitch will turn out a lot better if I am impeccably attired. With that being said, I am off to my closet to plan! I will be posting one more time tomorrow (if I am not too rushed), and then I am leaving for Las Vegas through the weekend! If anyone else is attending the Henderson Writers’ Group Las Vegas Writer’s Conference, please let me know–I would love to meet some of you!

A Different Perspective

My Dad read my first novel chapter by chapter as I was writing it. It was really great to hear his encouraging feedback such as, “Just keep it up!” or (my favorite) “Your book is pretty good, Elise!” My dad is a very intelligent man, but a literary critic he is not. However, looking back, I think this was the perfect kind of feedback for me–it doesn’t influence my story or my writing style. It was especially perfect for the flow I had going for my first book–I just needed to get all that writing out there, and Dad’s feedback was perfect for that as it kept me going. Waiting for Dad to finish up another book he was currently reading as I began to compose chapters of the second novel, I began to get anxious to see how it read for the first time for a fresh reader. Finally, today he started it! And I was pleased to see that his critique capability is getting better–we actually had a conversation about the nuances of one of my main characters and how she is reacting to the major plot conflict in the story. I fully value both kinds of input my dad has given me; it is so nice to talk about your writing with someone who truly cares and who will give you an honest opinion. And, while I intend to fully remain true to the way my characters speak to me in my own mind, I appreciate hearing the way a fresh reader perceives the text–because that is truly who the book is for, the readers, and having feedback from a fresh reader along my writing journey is a great asset. The Querying Author’s Bible

Exciting news today: I finally got my synopsis trimmed down to size! It’s lean enough, in fact, that I can go back and add a little more detail, which is music to my ears after the painful, stripped down process of creating my synopsis. My most helpful source in looking up how to format a synopsis was This is a fantastic website, not only because it includes a searchable database of literary agents who are currently accepting queries, but also because of its section containing specific guidelines on how to format those queries you will send off. From email queries to snail mail queries, AgentQuery has all the specific guidelines needed to make your submission most successful. Seriously, every little detail is discussed. When I wanted to know how to format my novel title in my synopsis, I went to the section on formatting a synopsis and quickly found my answer. I also discovered that a synopsis can be up to three pages long–which was the best news I have heard lately as my synopsis was stuck one paragraph long of two pages. Now I know that is actually an acceptable length–hooray! While I am still new to the whole process, AgentQuery has by far been the most valuable resource I have found. I have already spent a lot of time perusing the agents and reading the submission and query guidelines–the amount of instructions and knowledge on the site can be overwhelming, but I like to see this as a wealth of knowledge there for my benefit. I am glad to have these myriad resources at my fingertips whilst treading the unknown waters of gaining a literary agent. I know I will be using this resource daily, and I suggest anyone working on their own query or synopsis to check it out as well!