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  • Siobhan Manrique

Ten Queries

In mid October, I entered into a raffle for the Ten Queries contest. I learned of and applied for this opportunity the one day it was accepting entrants. I was fortunate to be drawn as a winner! What this entailed was an anonymous editor or author reading my query letter and the first 5 pages of my manuscript. A couple weeks later, all participating editors/authors fired off 2 tweets per entrant: 1 tweet with feedback on the query letter and 1 tweet with feedback on the first 5 pages. The tweets did not indicate which author they were meant for--they were only labeled by genre and, if appropriate, sub-genre.

A few days after those tweets went live, my editor emailed me with the tweets intended for my work.

When I was explaining this process to a friend, they questioned why the tweets were public and anonymous rather than simply sent directly to each entrant. My response was that this way, many more writers could benefit than those who had been chosen in the lottery. Each of the dozen or so editors received 5 entrants' work, and tweeted out feedback. While I perused their tweets to try to determine which one could be mine, I also began to recognize patterns and even sympathize with feedback that was outside of my genre. I learned from many tweets, not just the ones directed at my writing.

While I had written a middle grade piece, I found myself very invested in the critiques of query letters for adult fiction. Feedback revealing that first pages were too dense with info-dumps or worked very well due to the front-loading of tension--all of this caught my eye.

I had only discovered the topics of "10 queries/ ten queries/ RevPit/ Revise & Resub" a few weeks before this event, and again, although the feedback tweets may not be directed at your work, they offer concise, professional feedback.

Turns out, I had successfully guessed which tweets referred to my submission! I even adjusted my first pages based on the feedback before receiving confirmation that it had been intended for me. Again, whether I was the intended audience or an onlooker, the feedback was that meaningful and actionable. In fact, the pages I had submitted represented an updated beginning based on a "10 queries" thread I had read a few weeks prior to entering the event.

This experience has opened my eyes to the value of the #WritingCommunity on Twitter, especially for those of us willing to take feedback and do some work. I cannot recommend enough that writers keep their eyes peeled for opportunities such as this. Jump on that next pitch event. Apply for feedback. Enter that editor or author's drawing--maybe you'll get a free book or free critique--or even just jump on that Q&A thread.


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