Sunday, March 5, 2023

2023 June Self-Edit and Query Workshops

The Children’s Writers of the Hudson Valley was delighted to have Sara Schonfeld, Associate Editor at HarperCollins Children’s Publishing, lead a workshop on self-editing like an editor and how to strengthen your query letter. Sara was warm, friendly, approachable, and knowledgeable. Below is a brief summary of our workshops.

Some of Sara’s tips for self-editing was a reverse outline, write down what happened in the story and what is it doing for the story. When editing ask yourself questions, does each scene advance the character or plot?

Think about your main character: what are the themes, relationships, growth, motivation.

After Sara’s PowerPoint presentation, our writing exercise was to edit several pages of our manuscript focusing on specific areas.

Tips for strengthening your query included what to look for when researching your comp titles, how to find examples of comp titles, answering the five basic questions (what, when, who, how and why) and following the four basic structural parts of a query letter. 

Sara reviewed proper query protocols when submitting multiple query letters to editors or agents.

Some common mistakes in writing query letters were too much world building, too much information, too long and others.

Our writing exercise was to rewrite our query letter. Sara read many query letters to the group and gave constructive feedback. Even if your query wasn't read, listening to Sara's comments were still valuable.

We want to thank Sara for spending the afternoon with us and teaching us about self-editing and making our queries stronger. Also, we want to thank our hard working attendees and the CWHV staff.