Thursday, January 5, 2012

Ahh, the Query Letter

I believe that a lot of novels miss their chance because the query letter didn’t do them justice.
How are you supposed to take your novel and present it a few sentences?

Practice helps, but if this is your first novel, it can be one of the most overwhelming steps in the process. Taking time to read successful query letters is a good idea, especially if you have had the chance to read the novel in question. This will allow you to review the query vs. the novel and see what elements were left out and what the author deemed essential to present.

Many agents have blogs and offer advice on writing a good query, but even then, what might please one agent, could turn another away. You can check out Pub Rants, Kristin has covered query letters in the past.

Learning how to present your work in a few short sentences is the first step. Go look on Amazon or Goodreads (or any publisher site) and read as many book synopsises as you can. Now it is important to note that a synopsis and a book pitch are two different things. But at this stage, we want to learn how to efficiently capture someone’s curiosity in as few words as possible. Most agents, or publishers, offer specific guidelines on how to present a query letter. Here again, what works for one will be turned away by another.

 Test out your blurb on friends or writing group (if you have one). Take their input into consideration and don’t forget to take a break once in a while. Coming back with a fresh mind will make the task a little easier to handle. Write as many different versions as you can, go at it from different angles and have fun in the process.  You can make a list of elements found in your book, including character traits, obstacles, genre etc. then mix and match to get different kinds of query letters. This can help you present one that will be ‘tailor made’ to a specific agent’s or publisher’s guidelines.

Now, go get creative!

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