Listen, sometimes lightning strikes and you have a window of opportunity that's never going to open again.
Once time it was a phone call for a job. Whomever called back first got the position.
Once it was a promotional opportunity, a reviewer's guest blogger fell through and she needed something to put up in the next ten minutes. First email got the free promotion on a website with hundreds of unique readers daily.
Once it was a query critique, first five queries with the right heading got feedback. The critique turned into a full request for a book.
You can say people who see these opportunities are just lucky, but more often than not they're working to put themselves in a situation where these opportunities open up. And they're prepared to jump in the second they see that ship on the horizon. The good news is, so can you.
For everything you do, have a packet ready. Remember when you went on your first job hunt with resume in hand and eager smile in place? It's the exact same thing.
When you query you need a submission packet for each title on submission (Pro Tip: limit how many novels and novellas you have making the rounds at once. Those are serious time commitments. Short stories are usually bought and sold without editing, so query to your hearts content.) The packet needs to have the query, and separate documents for the full manuscript, partial manuscript, first three chapters, first five pages, full synopsis, one page synopsis, and full bio/resume. Keep them all in one folder and if an agent pops into view saying they'll critique the first five pages of a manuscript to the first ten people who email ... BOOM! You copy, paste, and send. It took you all of sixty seconds and your manuscript is now getting the full attention of an agent. Good for you!
When you have a book published you need a similar folder for promotion. You need your cover art, blurb, any additional art and graphics, buy links (notebook files are great for saving these but a Word document works just as well), links to all your social sites, public email for fan letters, official excerpt, and if you have time a couple of easily adjustable blog posts under 500 words you can send at a moment's notice. A reviewer wants someone to fill in at a moments notice? You've got it covered. Editor calls up saying they need your head shot and and blurb because their computer ate it? No worries, you don't have to hunt around for what you need, because it's all in the folder.
Having everything together and ready to go saves you stress and time. Not to mention it makes you look professional when you can respond to everything someone requests right away. Always a win. :)
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