5 Author Newsletters Worth Subscribing To

If you’re a looking to stay in-the-know about your favorite authors and what they’re up to, chances are you’ve signed up to receive their newsletters. While each author’s newsletter is different, they often help give you insight to the writer’s life and their process. As an extra bonus, some even contain craft tips to help you improve your own writing.

I’m subscribed to what feels like endless author newsletters. So I figured I’d share some of my favorites with you, including what I like about them.

1. The Visible Life of V.E. Schwab

V.E. Schwab is one of the first authors I began following on social media. With an impressive repertoire of books under her belt, V is easily the kind of person I dream of being when I grow up. Additionally, I love how real she is on social media and in her newsletters. Emails will hit your inbox once a month, and include sections about V’s life, what she’s working on, craft tips for improving your writing, news about her forthcoming projects, and what she’s doing to fill her creative well. You can sign up for her newsletter here.

2. From the Desk of Erin Bowman

I love following Erin Bowman and receiving her newsletters because she’s so honest about the traditional publishing industry and everything it entails. She doesn’t shy away from the realities and disappointments that come with pursuing a career in publishing. But at the same time, I always finish her newsletters feeling more hopeful than when I started them. Additionally, there’s a paid tier of her newsletter you can participate in that gives you more access to insider content and cool opportunities. You can sign up for her newsletter here.

3. Haunted Books & Haunted Girls

De Elizabeth’s newsletter is fairly new to the world, with only two having hit inboxes so far. But both of those have been homeruns in my opinion. De shares her thoughts on writing, life, and the combination of the two with a grace any writer should envy! Her advice is inspiring and it’s easy to feel like you’ve just made a new best friend when you read her newsletters. Each one is intended to form community and foster conversation. You can sign up for them here.

4. Elise Kova

If you want practical, easy to implement writing tips, you need to check out Elise Kova’s newsletter! Elise is a prolific writer who got her start through self-publishing, giving her a unique perspective on the publishing industry and lots of useful tips you can start implementing into your own writing nearly immediately. I love reading her emails and I think you will too. You can sign up for them here.

5. SobSub Stories by Kate Dylan

Kate Dylan’s newsletter is one of my favorites because it is so unique. Instead of doing all of her own newsletter writing, Kate collects stories from authors who have gone on sub and shares them via newsletter. (Going on sub happens after a writer gets an agent; it’s the process where the agent begins sending the manuscript to editors at publishing houses in the hopes of getting a writer a book deal.) Being on sub is a harrowing experience for many authors, and Kate takes it from a terrifying unknown to an easily understandable process while still acknowledging how fraught the industry is. As a bonus, each story is labeled with a key to tell you what kind of experience you’ll be reading about beforehand, so if you only want the positive ones, you can make sure to screen your reads respectively. You can sign up for her newsletter here.

Did you sign up for any of the recommended newsletters? Are there more you would add to this list? Share them in the comments below; I’d love to hear them!


5 Pitch Event Tips for Writers

So you’ve decided you’re ready to pitch your novel in an event on Twitter…

For those who might be unaware, there are often events held on Twitter where writers can use specific hashtags and pitch their novels in a single tweet. Literary agents will get involved and like any of the pitches they want to see a query for. There’s speculation on whether pitch events are actually effective and whether they’re good for writers and agents alike, but for now, they continue!

During my time querying, I pitched in several events on Twitter. Today, I wanted to offer my two cents on tips for preparing a pitch and surviving the event itself.

First, let’s start with some tips…

As You’re Prepping, Do the Following…

1. Write Your Pitches Ahead of Time

Okay, maybe you’re thinking, “DUH”…but I’ll have you know I was a person who didn’t do this during my first pitch event. Was it the end of the world? No. But in the future, writing my pitches beforehand helped me stay more organized the day of.

2. Bookmark & Pin Your Pitch(es)

This one is huge…it’s common for writers to help boost each other during the day by retweeting pitches they find compelling. This means if you’re not careful, your own pitch might get lost on your timeline. The very first thing you should do after hitting “send tweet” on your first pitch of the day is pin it to your profile! Click on the three dots on the top right of the tweet to find this option. When you pin a tweet to your profile, it stays at the top and is the first thing people see when they come to your page.

If the event allows for multiple pitches throughout the day, bookmark each one. This will also help you stay organized because at the end of the day, you’ll want to do this next step…

3. Manually Check Your Likes

During my first pitch event, I received three likes from agents. Twitter didn’t notify me of a single one. I have no idea why, seeing as I was notified for everything else…but it’s always smart to look at each pitch tweet after the fact and double check whether you’ve received an agent like or not!

4. Believe in Internet Karma

My policy for pitch events was to spread as much genuine excitement about other people’s pitches as I could! In return, I’ve made a lot of friends through pitch events and a lot of people generously boosted my own pitches.

5. Set Realistic Expectations

Celebrate finishing your manuscript. Celebrate being ready to query. Celebrate making new friends. Whatever you do, DO NOT determine you or your novel’s worth by the results of a pitch event. There are so many underlying factors that make pitch events not work for everyone, and that’s okay. If you don’t receive any likes, it doesn’t mean your pitch is bad, your book is bad, or that you’re a bad writer. It just means your next step will be researching and querying the regular way! And there is nothing bad about cold querying–most writers will tell you they got their agent through cold querying! Pitch event success stories are often the exception to a broader rule.

Writing Your Pitch Tweets

The problem I always ran into when drafting pitches was the urge to try and talk about everything in my book. With only 120 characters available to you (and some of them used by the event’s hashtags), you have to be short and sweet. My personal recommendation for keeping it simple involves the following:

  • Only focusing on the A plot
  • Only naming main characters
  • Identifying the stakes – aka what will happen if your main character fails?
  • If you have fascinating comps, use them to your advantage!
  • Don’t be afraid to highlight tropes
  • Think of it as a snapshot

Is this the end all, be all advice? Nope! But these are things that have worked for me. Depending on how many pitches you can tweet throughout the event, there might be opportunity to focus on more than just the A plot, but the biggest conflict in the novel should be the focus of the pitch in my personal opinion!

In queries, it’s important to comp novels published within the last five years. But in a pitch tweet, you’re looking to catch someone’s eye just enough for them to decide they want more. So if your book can be comped to a movie, a song, or a really popular piece of media, comp it! If you can describe your novel as Jurassic Park meets All Too Well (Taylor’s Version), then I definitely want to know more about it. Hopefully an agent will too!

Tropes are equally celebrated and vilified by readers nowadays…but regardless, I think they’re a great way to help an agent know that your book already contains things they’re a sucker for. Enemies to lovers? I’m sold. Only one bed? Hand it over. Using tropes is not a must, and if you hate them, you don’t have to do it! But I’ve seen them work for other people and it doesn’t hurt to shoot your shot with them.

Lastly, consider your pitch to be a snapshot. You’re really limited with space to explain your plot. Do what you can with the limited characters you have. And remember, some people will look at your snapshot and immediately want to zoom out and see more. Others will see it and keep scrolling past, but if you showed them the whole thing, they’d be interested. (That’s just a really bad metaphor to say pitch contests don’t mean no one is interested in your work!)

Hopefully this advice helps! Feel free to connect with me via social media if you have other questions about pitch events. My DMs are open!

How to Polish Your Hook in a Query

Hi friends! I mentioned offhandedly a few times on social media that I was thinking about making a video discussing some of the most common issues I’ve seen while helping people edit their query letters, but I think such a resource would be useful to have as a blog post as well. I’ll put the info here first and then maybe make video content of it later.

These are the things I’ve done while crafting the hooks in my query letters⁠—and by hooks, I mean the part of the query where I wrote about the plot of my book and tried to leave agents feeling desperate to read the opening pages! This part of a query is similar to the summaries you see on the backs of books in a lot of ways.

If you’ve got a perfectly polished query letter, then you might not need this advice. And that’s awesome! But if you’re getting rejection after rejection (though let’s be honest, who isn’t right now) and you feel like something needs to change, I hope this helps!

Step 1: Break the Novel Down

Okay, so you have this huge freaking manuscript in front of you and someone had the audacity to say “Tell me about it in 400 words”?? Sounds fake, but whatever. (Kidding.) In order to do so effectively, it’s important to take a step back and look at your novel’s structure.

I use a combination of some different writing resources to do this. First, I take a piece of paper and split my novel into three acts. You can read more about the three and four act structures in Jessica Brody’s Save the Cat Writes a Novel. As an example, I’m going to use the plot of Star Wars: A New Hope. If we’re breaking that movie down into three acts, I’d personally title them something like this:

Act I: The Call
Act II: Save the Princess
Act III: Destroy the Death Star

Get the idea? If you’re thinking um, no, I do not get the idea then read this next part carefully: transition points between acts are (usually) marked by doors of no return.

Step 2: Identify Doors of No Return

I’m not entirely sure who coined the phrase “doors of no return.” I personally picked it up from one of my creative writing college professors and really liked it. You can identify a door of no return fairly easily: it’s when a character makes a decision that changes their life completely. There’s no going back! In A New Hope, Luke has a couple doors of no return.

At the end of Act I, Luke decides to accompany Ben Kenobi on his journey to save the princess from the Empire. A lot of things help lead him to this decision, especially when his aunt and uncle are killed, but it’s important to note that the real door of no return is when Luke makes his choice. This is because readers (or in this case, viewers) want to see the main character change over the course of the story.

At the end of Act II, Luke and Han save Leia and they make their daring escape. When they arrive at the rebel base, Luke decides to participate in the fight against the Empire, mainly by helping destroy the Death Star.

Once you’ve taken note of your story’s three acts and the two major doors of no return that separate each one, you’re just about ready to get started writing your hook!

Step 3: What’s Your Inciting Incident?

If you’re familiar with the Hero’s Journey, then firstly, congratulations on paying attention in high school English and secondly, get ready to locate one last crucial part of your story: the inciting incident, otherwise known as the call to action.

In A New Hope, the call to action is Luke finding the hologram of Princess Leia in R2D2’s memory. That’s his first foray into the world of the Empire versus the Rebellion.

Your inciting incident is important to add into your hook as well, so make sure you have it clearly defined. Then, you’re ready to start writing your hook.

Step 4: Get Writing

Okay! Now here’s the method I like to use:

  1. Introduce your character and their “normal”
  2. The inciting incident happens
  3. They pass the first door of no return
  4. In Act II, they take action
  5. End your hook by hinting at the next door of no return
  6. Throw in some stakes (AKA tell the audience what will happen if they don’t succeed!)

With this structure, here’s an example of what a hook for A New Hope could look like, with each of the above parts of the hook labeled (please keep in mind I’m doing this on the spot and it will not be perfect, just a first draft):

(1) Luke Skywalker dreams of leaving his desert home of Tatooine behind to become a pilot, but his aspirations are constantly pushed to the side by his uncle. (2) But when Luke finds a hologram of a beautiful princess, asking for aid from an Obi-Wan Kenobi, he feels compelled to help. Seeking out Ben Kenobi, who might have a mysterious connection to Obi-Wan, Luke’s life changes forever: Ben explains that Luke is strong in the Force, a power held by the now-extinct Jedi Knights of old, and encourages the young man to join on the journey to save the princess. (3) Luke refuses, but when he returns home and finds that his aunt and uncle have been killed by the Empire, he realizes his path forward lies with Ben and the Force.

(4) With the help of smuggler Han Solo, the group infiltrates the Empire’s base⁠—a planet-destroying weapon called the Death Star. They race against the clock to save Princess Leia, an important leader in the Rebel Alliance fighting against the Empire, and escape capture without being caught. (5) As they navigate encounters with deadly stormtroopers, devouring monsters, and the evil Darth Vader himself, their situation becomes more and more dire. (6) They have to make it off of the base alive so they can warn the Rebellion of the Death Star’s next target: the Rebel base itself.

Okay this is NOT A PERFECT QUERY. There are a lot of things that could be improved upon by just glancing at it: it’s complicated to read, it introduces too many characters, and the prose is lacking at best. That’s okay for now though, because this is a first draft! My example is the basic structure you might find useful for your hook. Each element is laid out carefully and connected to the next in a way that’s simple, concise, and easy to understand.

From here? Crack your knuckles and get ready to edit until the prose and the voice shine! We can talk about those details another time. For now, I hope this helps with your query letter woes. Follow me on social media for more querying tips and writing updates!

My Query Letters

Hi friends! Many writers will tell you that writing a query letter takes an entirely different skillset than writing a book. I’ve found that to be true as well. As such, I know one thing that really influenced my ability to write query letters was reading successful query letters other authors had written. For this reason, I’m posting here the query letters for two different books I’ve written and queried. Both of these letters got me offers of representation from literary agents and the first also received two offers of publication from small presses. You can read more about why I queried two books simultaneously here.

While I’m just putting the text of the queries themselves here, I plan to do a deeper breakdown of each one in a following post. You can follow me on my social media channels to make sure you are updated when that post drops! For now, I hope you enjoy reading my queries.

Note that any text in brackets [] is text that I personalized depending on which agent I sent the query to.

Blood Beneath the Snow (YA Fantasy)

Dear [AGENT],

Win, and take the crown.

The Bloodshed Trials are fast approaching. Without magic, eighteen-year-old Revna is banned from participating. But when her father sentences her two best friends to certain death, she presents him with an ultimatum he can’t ignore: she will refuse her arranged marriage and the war alliance that comes with it unless she is permitted to compete for the crown.

Lose, and have your throat slit by your own brother.

Revna stands no chance against older brothers with magical abilities. But she will not back down, even if it means her martyrdom. When she is kidnapped by a masked soldier on the other side of the war, she thinks her conquest is over before it began—until he reveals that he wants to help her take the throne. Despite her best efforts, she begins to fall for him. And to her surprise, she discovers there are others who want her on the throne for their own furtive reasons. As the Trials draw closer and her enemies appear to be her only remaining confidants, Revna must decide who is truly her ally. One misstep means brutal death for her and everyone she loves.

BLOOD BENEATH THE SNOW is a YA fantasy novel complete at 86,000 words. It will appeal to fans of the complicated family dynamics and political intrigue in THREE DARK CROWNS by Kendare Blake and the powerful friendships and forbidden romance of BONE CRIER’S MOON by Kathryn Purdie. This novel has series potential and features a cast diverse in race, sexuality, and gender identity. [Specific reason for querying that agent goes here]

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I strive to include accurate representation of sexuality and gender in every book I write, regardless of whether or not identity is a main theme of the text. I have a B.A. in English with a minor in creative writing. I worked on editing this novel with #1 NYT Bestselling Author Kathryn Purdie at the 2020 Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Alex Kennington (she/her)

The Minotaur Project (YA Science Fiction)

Dear [AGENT],

After reviewing your MSWL and seeing you’re on the lookout for [manuscripts featuring queer romance, female friendships, and explorations of familial relationships,] I am happy to share THE MINOTAUR PROJECT (91,000), a young adult, science fiction, sapphic retelling of the Greek myth of Theseus and Ariadne. Told from two first-person points of view, the novel will appeal to fans of the body horror in WILDER GIRLS by Rory Power and the romance between two girls from different worlds in CITY OF SHATTERED LIGHT by Claire Winn. The novel is intended to be the first in a duology.

    Rebellious Ari guards two secrets with her life: she is lesbian and she is responsible for the toxic gas leak that killed her brother and forced her father’s cult following to evacuate their spaceport home. Now, as the survivors travel the galaxy hoping to find God, Ari struggles to assuage her guilt over leaving Christos behind to die. When she receives encrypted messages that could only be from him, she travels to the now-abandoned spaceport to search for Christos, who she believes is still alive.

    Bounty hunter Thea never imagined being a trained killer, but she’s willing to get her hands dirty if it keeps her sister safe. But her latest bounty–the runaway daughter of a cult leader–has offered a deal she can’t refuse: help her search an abandoned spaceport for her brother and earn double the reward upon their safe return. At the thought of enough money to secure her and her sister’s future, Thea agrees to spend 24 hours searching before returning her prisoner, with or without her bonus prize.

    While they comb the spaceport for Ari’s brother, they come face-to-face with animated corpses that will stop at nothing to kill them. As they battle the creatures and their undeniable attraction to each other, they begin to realize that their traumatic pasts are intertwined in more ways than one. Now, they must unravel their connection and discover the truth about what happened on the day of the evacuation—before their bodies are left behind to become the very monsters hunting them.

    I have a B.A. in English. I attended the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers conference in 2020 and worked with #1 New York Times bestselling author Kathryn Purdie to polish a previous manuscript. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I strive to represent all genders and sexualities in my work. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Alex Kennington (she/her)

Content warning: This manuscript contains on-page examples of homophobia towards queer characters and features elements of religious abuse that may be triggering to some readers.


There you have it! I hope you find something worthwhile from reading my query letters. If you have any specific questions about them, slide into my social media DMs and I’d be happy to help out!

To authors querying right now: the trenches are hard. But please don’t let discouragement keep you from believing that you deserve good things on your publishing journey.

How I Got My Agent

The process of submitting to literary agents⁠—called querying⁠—is many things. Difficult. Time-consuming. Stressful. Often accompanied by anxiety and depression wondering whether you’re good enough to make it in the industry and, even if you are, whether you’ll submit your work to the right agent at the right time and they’ll fall in love with it the way they need to.

These were all reasons I enjoyed reading about others achieving the dream I was so desperately hoping to reach. As such, I’ve decided to record my own little story of how I signed with my literary agent in the hopes that others who enjoy these stories will find hope and know that sometimes, the right time is just around the corner, even when it feels impossible.

The book that started it all

I’d been writing fiction for a long time, but in 2019 something changed. I attended a writer’s conference hosted by my university and met six other amazing writers who wanted to form a group where we would discuss our ideas and help each other achieve our goals. I was stoked! To this day, the seven of us meet weekly to discuss our writing. None of this would have been possible without the support of my dear writing friends.

From August 2019, when we started meeting, I was submitting parts of a novel I was working on for critique. The novel was a dystopian, young adult fiction project that has since been abandoned (whoops) because in October that same year, I was struck by a sudden idea I didn’t expect. It felt so promising that I immediately began outlining and decided to work on a first draft for NaNoWriMo in November. If I hated it, I’d just go back to my other project.

Spoiler: I didn’t hate it.

November 2019 was one of the most insane months of my life. I literally wrote the entire first draft of my novel during this month. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t GOOD by any means, but it existed in its entirety. A story I had written. I was ecstatic.

I spent the next year and a half rewriting that book (not editing, rewriting from scratch) five different times before I finally felt like I got it right. I had never been prouder of anything I created. After having it read by the same writer’s group friends who’d pushed me to work on the project when it started, I knew I was ready to start querying.


For those who don’t know much, or anything at all, about the publishing industry, let me explain querying. You search for reputable literary agents who represent the genre(s) you write in, and then find their submission info. In most cases, you send in what’s called a query letter (essentially a page with info about you, your book, and why you’re interested in that agent) and some sample pages (this can range from 5 pages to 50 depending on the agent). Agents read their submissions and if they like what they see, they’ll request to read more or all of your manuscript. An agent who has read your full will then offer representation if they both feel passionately about your writing ability and their own ability to sell your book in a very crowded market.

I started submitting and immediately started getting rejections. I revised my query and my opening pages and submitted more. More rejections. It was disheartening to say the least, but what is the life of a writer without endless rejections?

Still, it felt like all of the other querying writers I was connecting with on Twitter were getting full requests left and right, while I had…none. For a long time. I knew it wasn’t the end of the world, but shelving this book felt like an impossibility. I looked at my spreadsheet from those months to give some numbers: over the course of six months, I received over 85 rejections, two full requests, and one partial request from an agent who wanted to read the first 50 pages of my novel.

Both full requests ended in rather quick rejections. By this point, I was finishing another manuscript that I wanted to query. I decided to leave the partial request with the agent who had it, just on the off chance they might want to see the full, but essentially moved on, leaving my book behind while I moved on to another project. If I wanted to, maybe later I would consider submitting it to small presses that didn’t require an agent in order to offer publication. Perhaps that was the route my book was meant to take.

My partial request came in December 2021. I had essentially given up on querying my manuscript come the end of January 2022. In February 2022, I was surprised to receive a request for my full manuscript from the agent who had asked for the first 50 pages. I convinced myself it was going to end in rejection, but sent in the pages regardless and promptly forgot about them.

I queried my second project with more success than the first, though request rates were still stunningly low. This manuscript had a more commercial hook that I felt would really call to agents. However, I started thinking about my first novel again and decided in May 2022 that I wanted to send it out to a few small publishers who accepted unagented submissions just to see what happened. And surprise, surprise…that’s when the magic started.

The happy ending

On June 3rd, 2022, I FaceTimed my mom in the afternoon and made up a song with lyrics that said, “I really want someone to publish my novel!!!” (Great song, add it on Spotify.) That evening, I called my mom again to tell her that somehow my singing had worked⁠—I’d just received an email from a small publisher who wanted to publish my book!

At this point in the process, it’s considered common courtesy to let everyone who has your manuscript or query letter know that you’ve received an offer so they have two weeks to request and read, and potentially make a competing offer of publication or representation. I sent out the notice and received a couple more requests from agents and one from another small publisher.

Then, the agent who had requested my full manuscript in February got back to me. She wanted to hop on a call! We chatted and she told me about her working style and her vision for both my book and more of my career. When I told her about the other book I was querying, she said she wanted to represent that one too. Cue even more excitement!

I let everyone with my second manuscript know that I had an offer and received a few more requests to read that. In the end, I had two offers of publication for my first manuscript by small publishers, one offer of representation based solely on the first manuscript with interest in the second, and one offer of representation based on the second manuscript. After a lot of thinking, I decided to take the first agent offer. It felt like the best move for my overall career and Bethany’s vision for my book was just too good to be true. How was it possible that someone else had fallen head over heels for my characters the same way I did?? It felt like a dream come true, and in many ways, it was. I signed my contract and the rest, as they say, is history!


While my querying journey was not that unusual in many aspects, there are parts of it that are more rare than others. It’s rare for your first full manuscript you’ve written ever to get you an agent. It’s rare for people to spend less than a full year querying. Querying falls into an odd category: you won’t succeed without enough skill, but even having the skill doesn’t ensure that you will succeed. It takes a lot of luck to land a literary agent. And as much as I would like to think I’m a great writer who would have found this kind of success regardless, it’s also true that a lot of my own success boiled down to perfect timing.

Reading posts like this can feel hopeful, but if you’re having a hard time, they can also be discouraging. It’s my hope that querying writers reading this will know that the saying “It only takes one yes” does ring true, no matter how overused it is. Playing the waiting game sucks, but in some instances, it pays out. Please just know that not getting requests or offers of representation doesn’t TRULY say anything about your writing ability. Often, it just means timing and luck aren’t on your side.

I plan to post more about querying and the wild ride it is, but this is where I’ll leave you for today. If you have any questions about the process, please reach out and I’d be happy to answer!