Whistle While You Twerk. Err … Tweak!

“If you think your manuscript is ready and you haven’t gone back and re-read and edited it, than it probably isn’t.”

I can’t count the amount of times I’ve seen something similar to that on any literary agency’s website. And for good reason. What literary agent wants to stick their neck out and sign a writer who doesn’t know basic subject-verb agreement, tenses, or how to use spellcheck. Seriously. Spellcheck is the easiest thing to operate on any computer. It does the work for you.

[Yes, I’m looking at you, my wonderful students, past, present, and future!]

Throughout this whole trying-desperately-to-procure-an-agent process, I’ve been going back and glancing over my manuscript and making small, but necessary tweaks here and there. Rest assured, this manuscript has been edited, re-edited, scrapped, rewritten, edited, edited, edited, scrutinized, burned, drowned, ripped into pieces, taped back together, and edited AGAIN and again until [are you done with this sentence yet? No? Ok…] I finally hand-polished it to perfection. And I LOVE what it has become. It is an exact reflection of what I envisioned seven years ago when I first starting writing it.

But every time I get a rejection from lit agent, I go back and re-read it, looking for something to fix. I think it eases my soul if I find a misplaced semi-colon or comma splice because I’m sure that agent rejected me based on ONE improper comma placement. Right? RIGHT?!

Every time I make a change, I like to twerk.

This may or may not be me. Ok, it’s not me. Whatever.

So I’ve come up with a set of Tweak Twerks.

Tweaking is necessary. It doesn’t mean that my manuscript isn’t ready, or that it isn’t the best version of what it should be. Because it is. At least I think so. But sometimes, when I’m re-reading, I’ll find a sentence that I want to reformat so that it looks cooler and bolder on the page. And YA is awesome because it lends itself to, what I like to call, CLE: Creative Letter Expression. After each new edit, I’ll sit back in my chair and go, “THIS SHIT IS EPIC. #GettingSignedTomorrow”

This is called the “Snow White Tweakin'” Twerk; Subtext: “I’m Sexy and I Know It.”

Then I go back and look over my query letter. “Ok,” I’ll think to myself, “It’s fairly solid, but it could use some extra TLC [not to confused with CLE…no CLE allowed in queries].” Like the other day, I finally figured out what to add into my query so that it would give agents just a smidge more synopsis, while still leaving them wanting more.

This is called the “Velma Selfie” Twerk, where I give just a little bit more of myself in my query. It’s more self-reflective than the “Snow White Tweak Twerk.” But I NAILED it, so I twerk.

Once I hit the send button, I’m all HIGH ON LIFE because THIS IS THE ONE. THIS IS THE AGENT WHO IS GOING TO LOVE ME.

And then I get a response from an agent. THEY WANT TO SEE THE FULL MANUSCRIPT. This makes me feel like a BOSS.

This is called the “Pimp Squidward” Twerk. Because when I get a request for a full from a tweaked query letter, you best believe that I’m dropping it like it’s HAWT.

And then the most curious thing happens. While I’m riding high and twerking from my post-tweak submissions, I get a response from an agent that I queried TWO MONTHS ago. #Surprise! #RememberMe?

This is called the “Thumper Sneak Twerkttack.” Agents be poppin’ up out of the woodwork. This could be a good or bad thing. Truly could go either way. They either got wind of your great gift, or they found time to finally reject you. Either way, “lemme just tweak everything so it’s perfect so you won’t reject me, mmm?” Twerk?

Then there comes a point where, as a writer, all of your super awesome writer friends are having book launch parties, or announcing their upcoming novels, or followers on Twitter who are all “I JUST SIGNED WITH AN AGENT! [Subtext: YOU DIDN’T!]” This makes me feel like I was the only one left out of the party. I am Janis Ian, doomed to watch all of my awesome friends doing awesome shooters and listening to awesome music and generally soaking up each others awesomeness.

This is the “Not Twerking Like Everyone Else So Maybe I’ll Just Go Back and Tweak” Twerk. ‘Nuff said.

And then, once all the tweaking is done, you wait…

This is no time for twerking!

…and wait…


…and wait…

And then I start to lose my mind. This is when twerking comes in handy. I’d like to call this: The “I’M FUCKING CRAZY BUT I OWN IT” Twerk.

…and while I’m waiting — any writer knows this — I have to remind myself ย that it could be awhile before I hear anything.

A LONG while.

Might as well have some fun, enjoy the ride, and maybe do a little moreย twerking tweaking.



  1. So much love for this! I was going to express this love on Twitter, but for some reason I’m locked out, and was therefore forced to log in to my WP account, which, side note, I haven’t done in a raccoon’s age.


  2. You are so right, especially about being on a high when you send a query out – this one is perfect, you think. You just know when you open up your email there will be a request for more … and then there’s none!


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