I love questions! The good ones, the bad ones, the stupid ones, and even the ones you only think are stupid. I think the only bad question is the one never asked... because that means you've assumed something.
I had considered giving up the challenge this year, because I haven't been able to keep up with it as well as I would have liked. Then Vanessa @Vanessence listed me in her blogroll, "in no particular order." Except I was the first one on her list! How could I give up now?
So dear readers, I pledge to give you something. It may be short or it may be barely worth a blog post. But it will be something. Every letter. Every time. And this is Q.
For Writers: Questions for Editors and Agents
On your writing journey, you are bound to have questions. That's good! It means you want to learn more about the industry and how to get your book in the right hands. But knowing the appropriate way to ask a question is important, too.
Social Media: Before you post a question on social media, consider:
If you answered "Yes" or "Maybe" to...
#1 – Instead of a public posting on social media, you might ask your critique partners, or look for opportunities such as online classes and Facebook Groups where your specific manuscript can receive feedback.
#2 – Check the FAQs and submission guidelines of websites before asking a question about a specific publisher or agency. Also, follow the blogs of any editors or agents you are querying because they will often help you get a feel of their preferences.
#3 – Even if you have a general question, the answer might already be in a blog post. Try googling with the whole question, or type in the keywords to search for the answer. You may find the answer without cluttering up your social media account.
#4 – Social Media sites are huge places. Think of the busiest place in the world and imagine you've walked in with your question. Now imagine that down the street and around the corner is a quiet information booth with no line. You can stand there waving your question and hope it gets answered, or you can take a few extra steps to find someone who knows the answer. Nine times out ten, I'd rather do the extra work.
If you answered "No" to all the above...
#1 – If your question is general in nature, then chances are other writers have the same question.
#2 – If your question hasn't already been answered, that doesn't mean nobody else has the same question. (see #1)
#3 – As you ask, avoid loaded questions. For example,
#4 – Sometimes social media IS the best place to ask your question. Try using hashtags like #askagent to get your question answered more quickly. Some agencies have specific times and hashtags when they will be on twitter or other social media sites to answer your questions. Follow their schedule and guidelines for the best results. If other writers have the same question, they will probably like or retweet your post. This will help your chances of finding an answer.
For Readers: A Quest for Questions
When reading picture books to little ones, you will probably see a little hand (or 30) shoot up to ask a question. Be warned – Kindergarteners don't actually know what a question is.
"Yes, Billy, do you have a question?"
"Thank you for raising a quiet hand. What is your question?"
"My grandpa has a big bike, and he'll let me ride it, only my feet aren't grownup enough yet and mom says I have to be as old as grandpa to ride and I don't want to be that old because he doesn't have any hair on his head except he had hair in his ears and some in his nose but I'm not supposed to talk about that anymore..."
"That's a nice story, Billy, but it's not a question. Now, this picture book is called-"
At which point three more hands will shoot up (or maybe 5 hands, but two of the students are waving both their hands at the same time).
"I'm only going to pick on you if you are asking a question. Do you have a question?"
Three eager heads bob vigorously, "Uh-huh."
"Ok, Tonya, Marcus, and then Hayden."
Tonya takes her hand down sheepishly, "I forgot."
Marcus glances at Hayden then remembers it's his turn, so he smiles really big and yells, "I know that book! My mom read it to me on Sunday because Eyder was sick and I couldn't go in while she was sleeping and –"
"You've heard this book? Wonderful! Then you'll have to help me keep the secret at the end. Promise?"
Marcus nods, beaming.
Hayden thinks maybe she was forgotten so she waves both hands again.
"Yes, Hayden, do you have a question or did you have something to say?"
"I had something to say. Actually it's a question."
"Are you sure? Does it have one of the question words: Who, What, or Why?" Of course there are more question words, but why encourage them?
"OK, what's your question?"
"What... what... I read that book before too."
You gotta give 'em credit for trying.
"I'm so glad, but I bet not everyone has heard this story. So I'm just going to read it and you can hold your questions for the end, OK?"
Eight more hands will shoot up while you're reading, so you'll have to simply remind them that you'll take their questions at the end. Of course you'll run out of time, so be sure to have a suggestion, "You know, I'll bet your family would love to hear your questions. Or maybe you can ask your friends at recess!"
I hope you'll check out some of the many bloggers who have taken this challenge. Once I'm caught up, I'll add links of blogs I've visited.
P.S. I made up that story
Just to be clear, everything in this post is made up. Except maybe the #askagent hashtag - that is a real hashtag. And Vanessa is a real blogger you should totally visit. But my example questions and stories are all made up. OK, just wanted to be clear.
I write about, with, for, and around kids all day. (Well, maybe I do the dishes too. Sometimes.)