Saturday, April 23, 2011
Slow, steady, race to the mountain
I always complete my query the same time I start a new novel, presently for my first novel query, which I'd revised so many times I honestly have lost count, week ago I figured another revision for ECLIPTIC DREAMS. Writing a great query is hard, I have books, internet research about the said topic, and I have concluded its part luck, right moment etc if a agent/publisher request to see more. However,I believe following the query formula will make the chances much better, now this is the info I have researched from a variety of sources that I basically mushed into one so that I can understand it it may be different for each aspiring writer but for me this helps me out when structuring my query and since I am a visual learner I will show the formula.
Constructing a Query Letter
The 5 parts of a query letter are as follows:
1. A Tag line/Headline whatever you call it basically you want to grab the attention of the agent/publisher
2. The concept Don't tell agents you'll be the next big author first of all that's conceited and your going in bull shit territory and likely they'll delete your query and send you a nice email rejection or if its a hard copy query letter they'll toss it so fast in the recycling bin
your headline/tag line should be the continuation of your concept
lets use Harry Potter for example.
Headline: How can an 11 year -old wizard defeat a powerful dark lord...when he doesn't know that he's a wizard?
I don't think agents and publishers want to know that you'll sell the same amount of books as J.K Rowling, James Patterson or Stephenie Meyer. They want to make that judgement for themselves that your novel will sell period. Its the same as writing show them don't tell them. For my paranormal romance I took the advice of the various research and remember my query is still in rough shape but for demonstration purpose's here is the rough draft of my tag line, (which I am still debating whether I should use in my query.)
Seventeen year-old Elizabeth McKenzie must conquer a sadistic faceless figure in her dreams but how can she do that when she can't accept its real?
Insert agents name
My query should look something like this when I start to draft it
After Elizabeth McKenzie Grandmother Mary tells her she is moving to Cove, Arkansas she begins to get nightmares involving a faceless figure, Elizabeth theory concludes the dreams only started because she's stressed about moving but the figure tells her she's not dreaming and divulges about an vague impending fate and that she is part of a royal linage.
So working with this rough concept idea I will continue to pack the image so to speak of my MC and the conflict of the faceless figure and the mystery surrounding her impending fate and the consequences that will happen due to her choosing to deny her dreams are in fact real.
Be very brief they don't want to know that all your immediate families love your book or how many contest you entered and came close to winning unless you came first place don't ever mention that. What you can mention is obviously any other books that were published or any writing credentials that will show them that you have experience as writer, dedicated to the business etc and the obvious never lie, the literary world seems big when you are querying but its quite small agents, interns, editors and other authors talk and you never know if someone might catch on to that lie that will blow up in your face and ruin your chances as a credible writer so if you have no experience that's cool we all have to start from somewhere.
Keep it short and identify the target market that will buy your book for me I have mentioned two authors that fans of their series may appreciate my novel.
5.Close your Query Letter I never write thank you for your time honestly my time is just as important as their time I work full time and a Mom so I value my time as well. I reiterate that I had followed their submission guidelines i.e enclosed is the first three chapters, synopsis whatever they asked for is what they'll get, or I'll say something on the lines at your request I can forward the full manuscript or chapters etc and of course my contact info like email, website agents are big on an writers having a blog/website. I don't do a lot of SASE for me its expensive since I am mailing from Canada to the US so the email submissions are perfect but if I do send one or two SASE I make sure that I follow the guidelines close to perfection and make sure as well it will be no cost to the agent.
I have seen a lot of bestsellers get a ego that is the size of the earth, those authors I don't support because as easy as someone rises they may come crashing down just as fast so be humble and don't lose who you are, in the early stage keep in mind you want an agent/publisher as a partner that will support you throughout your long term writing career it is about all the parties involved benefiting from the partnership.