As a writer, I like to think of myself as being pretty self-sufficient—just stick me in a room with a laptop and some snacks and I’ll emerge a few days later with a finished product. But a few weeks ago, I finished writing the novel I’ve been working on for the past six months, and suddenly found myself at a loss for what to do next. Is my manuscript good enough to shop around? Is my query letter OK? Which agents are the best for my genre?
That’s when I discovered the magic of online forums. Within a few days of signing up for the forums listed below, I got feedback on my query letters, personalized advice about agents, and I even found an amazing critique partner. It turns out writers love helping other writers—and there’s really no reason to be self-sufficient about everything. Here are the three best forums I’ve discovered for writers, regardless of where you are on your writing journey.
AbsoluteWrite Forums: www.absolutewrite.com/forums
The forums at AbsoluteWrite are the place to be if you’re looking for answers to writing questions, advice on your query letter, feedback on your first chapter, or if you want to socialize with like-minded writers. AbsoluteWrite is one of the biggest, friendliest, and most well established online forums for writers, and many published authors such as Kody Keplinger and Aprilynne Pike have remained active there after getting a book deal.
Unlike some other writing forums, AbsoluteWrite requires members to make a minimum of fifty posts before they are allowed to post query letters or pages for critique. This ensures a high level of community spirit and discourages “hit and runs” by people looking for quick feedback without returning the favor. AbsoluteWrite is also an awesome place to find a critique partner and beta readers, no matter what genre you’re writing in.
AgentQuery Forums: www.agentqueryconnect.com
AgentQuery is probably the best online database of up-to-date information on literary agents. The AgentQuery forums are a great place to trade query critiques with other writers and read up on anecdotal reports of other writers’ experiences with various literary agents. AgentQuery has a stronger focus on the querying/submissions process than AbsoluteWrite, and it’s the perfect place to hang out when you’ve got the heebie-jeebies over an agent’s response time or another aspect of the submissions process.
Whereas AbsoluteWrite has a pretty good mix of traditionally published, self-published, and in-between writers, AgentQuery caters more to writers who are looking for a traditional publisher.
QueryTracker is a little clunky-looking compared to the other two websites mentioned above, but if you can get past the poor design you’ll find a treasure trove of useful information about agents and publishers. For every literary agent in their database, you will find comments from members who have queried this agent, statistics on the agent’s response time and the number of full and partial manuscripts requested, a list of the agent’s current clients, and a list of other QueryTracker members who have queried this agent.
A quick look at your desired agent’s profile on QueryTracker can help you tailor your query more specifically to that agent’s quirks—and can also give you a better idea of what to expect in terms of response time and likelihood of getting a request. QueryTracker also has a useful tool allowing you to keep records of which query letter you sent to which agent—very handy when you’re juggling a list of fifteen potential agents.