Friday, April 19, 2013

Query letters

"Above all, a query letter is a sales pitch and it is the single most important page an unpublished writer will ever write. It's the first impression and will either open the door or close it. It's that important, so don't mess it up. Mine took 17 drafts and two weeks to write." ~Nicholas Sparks

Writers agonize over query letters. Personally, I dread the synopsis more, although, considering the above quote, writing a query letter still makes me sweat. In a query, you have about three short paragraphs to tell agents or editors about your book and about yourself.

The opener

Agents and editors receive a lot of queries every day. One way to catch their attention is to let them know you've done some research about them and their company. Drop in a few of the titles they represent that you've read, tell them why you think they would be the right fit for your book

The blurb


This is the hard part. How in the world do you decide what to include and what to leave out? In a query, you have one paragraph to entice a potential agent or editor to read your sample chapters. Explain your main character and what happens to him in a consice and engaging way. Many agents and editors like to know the setting as well. Imagine you're writing the blurb for the back of the book. They say a query should be written in the same tone and voice as the novel so editors/agents can get a better idea of the book.

 Your bio

This is where you tell about yourself. If you don't have any writing credits, just tell them where you live and what genres you write in, or something along those lines. I do believe having a resume helps when it comes time to query for a novel. Not to say that if you have no previous stories published agents and editors will write you off, but if they see you've been published in various magazines and anthologies it shows them that you already know how to work with an editor, at least to some extent. It also shows them you're most likely into this writing thing for the long haul. Believe it or not, some people feel they've accomplished all they need to with only one book. They can somehow continue on with life without imagining things and writing them down. I don't get it, but I've heard it's true.

The internet provides a ton of good information about writing query letters. Here are some helpful links:


http://poewar.com/how-to-write-a-query-letter/

http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/08/how-to-write-query-letter.html

http://www.squidoo.com/how-to-write-a-query-letter2

Tomorrow's post - Rejections

15 comments:

  1. More good tips. For my two books I was extremely lucky with my blurbs.My favourite singer Daniel O Donnell wrote a part on the blurb and on my second book our very own Alex wrote a piece.

    Yvonne.

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    1. Very cool, Ynonne. You're lucky to have help.

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  2. Query and synopsis writing has always been a nightmare for me. Trying to catch someone's attention in just a few words is a skill all of its own.

    mood
    Moody Writing

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    1. Yeah, it's not really what we signed up for, is it?

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  3. Good tips. Thanks, will help.

    http://thenovabug-blog.blogspot.co.uk/

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  4. Hate this part of the writing process - I'm a writer not a sales person. I've had some adventures trying to write a pitch will I'll be posting about soon. Thanks for this info, Heidi, and I may have a few more links to share when I do.

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    1. Oh, goodie! I'll be watching for those links.

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  5. I've been pounding on synopses for the last couple days. Such a frustrating process to reduce what took me 100,000 into two pages or less.

    John at The Bathroom Monologues

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    1. I know. What kind of sick joke is it, anyway?

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  6. So much work for so few words. Honestly, I thought there'd be lots more query posts today. LOL

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  7. Condensing, summarizing, and simplifying is difficult but a great way to keep your focus and get clarity especially for me. Thanks for reminding us how important this is.

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  8. Anything to help reduce the stress of queries! this works wonders.

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  9. Dear Heidi, I have enjoyed your informative blog so much so I have nominated you for a Leibster award check out my R for Receive post for all the details.. you don't have to accept it but you meet the criteria and I want more people to find you :)

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  10. Good tips. I'm still finishing my latest draft, but there will be a time when I need this. Thanks :)

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