Sprint 11: Japan and the Waiting Game
November 1, 2015 by David T. Allen
October was a time of great revisions and querying agents. The end of October was so busy and exciting that I couldn’t remember what we did the first two weeks, until I reviewed the board.
We entered the #PitchSlam competition on Twitter, which was Harry Potter themed. We were accepted into Hufflepuff house and had 11 agents request our manuscript for Echo Chamber Heist!
Naturally, this changed our focus. We couldn’t plan ahead on our sprint board, since our tasks relied on whether we were accepted and if agents made any requests.
I intend to write in-depth articles about pitch slam later.
- 61 original tasks
- 72 finished tasks
- 47 finished original tasks
- 25 finished scope creep tasks
- 14 unfinished tasks
- 72/61 = 118% completion of original plan
We did more than we set out to do, but some of our scope creep tasks may have been easier than our original tasks. As usual, percentage should be taken with a grain of salt.
Enter competitions. I said this last month, and I’ll say it again, because this time, we were selected! September’s Pitch Wars competition forced us to write a query letter and synopsis, which came in handy. We wouldn’t have been prepared for Pitch Slam without them. This leads me to…
Iterate fast. I was stunned by many of the agents that requested our manuscript. Our query letter no longer felt good enough, so I looked up queries that got agents, picked one, then used it as a template to rewrite our own query letter. We then rapidly iterated on it using feedback from seven friends.
Move fast, but don’t rush. We wanted to submit our manuscript to every agent by end of week, so we made it a priority. We cranked through submissions, even though I was sick, some friends had just temporarily moved into our house (who were incredibly awesome and helped keep an otherwise potentially stressful situation fun!), and we had a small party at our house.
Before we sent anything, Leslie researched the agents. We then tailored each query letter to tie our work into what they wanted. This took three days; one day, we worked on submissions from 11am to 9pm.
Make checklists. While sending our query letter and manuscript to agents, we had a checklist we physically marked off before putting the agent’s email address in the TO field and pressing send. This reduces the chance of embarrassing errors.
- Don’t break the chain. For small things you want to get in the habit of doing every day, make a calendar and put an X through each day you finished that task. For Leslie, it was using Twitter more. It could be sitting down to write, cleaning the kitchen for 15 minutes, or playing with your dogs. The idea is, you don’t want to break the chain of success you’ve formed.
Reflecting on October
Leslie and I reread our entire manuscript, looking for big-picture problems and revising accordingly.
The big change was two of our close friends moved in with us. A lot happened in October that could have potentially been stressful, but they kept it laid back. They even cooked meals and cleaned the kitchen while we polished submission emails!
Even though we didn’t get dressed up or decorate the house much, this was the best Halloween we’ve had in years. The weather was beautiful, and handing out candy with Megan and Dave while watching Halloween movies was bliss.
My mom even texted me with a picture of her first trick-or-treater, which was a miniature donkey.
We’re traveling in Japan from November 8th – 22nd, and the first week is dedicated to preparing for the trip. The last week is resting, Thanksgiving, and Fallout 4.
November is about fun and experiences, so we’re leaving the board empty.