September 18, 2009

Query Letters: How Much is Too Much?

As I query agents, I wonder what I should include and what is too much information. For example, I research the market. I wouldn't say I'm an expert, but I know things. I know:

--That YA sales haven't suffered from the falling market like other genres have. Neither has fantasy. (Or romance, if that's what you write.)
--I know that the market is saturated with vampire novels. Although they're still selling well, their sales are predicted to drop.
--Werewolves are in the same boat.

I want to tell agents what I know, but I don't want to come off as desperately clamoring for attention. I want agents to know that I'm aiming to reach fans of Stephenie Meyer and Patrcia Briggs (and I've included that in some of my queries), but I don't want to sound like, "Look, I'm just as good as Stephenie Meyer and Patricia Briggs."
Because let's face it--I'm not. Stephenie Meyer is a young writer, but her characters are amazingly real. Their dialogue, the voice, it's all there. Patricia Briggs also has a great voice and characters. And her stories have such depth, so many layers... No, I don't think I'm that good yet. But I hope to be.

Shadow has avoided vampires and werewolves and has a (relatively) new kind of paranormal: ghosts. Okay, ghosts aren't new, but my story uses ghosts as a medium for original ideas. The premise is, as far as I know, original. I've looked for books like mine. Either it's a relatively new idea, or I suck at looking.

So how does one say, "I know the market. I'm avoiding trends. I want to be as good as the best someday." ?


Tori said...

You don't need to tell them that, at least, not in your query letter. If you really focused on making it shine your query letter will do the talking fo you. Although, once you get an agent, it wouldn't hurt to mention you've been researching the market, you know the trends and you have goals. You will sound professional...and agents like that!

Your queries are being sent, the only thing you can do now is wait for the responses. Once you aquire 10-15 start going through them. If they are all form letters it wont help you very much. But, if the rejections contain any sort of attention to it!

Olivia said...

It all has a great deal to do with luck, I'm afraid.

I don't think Stephenie Meyer is that great of an author. Yes, some of her characters are great and yes her books have lots of momentum, but at the same time the plot lines suffer. Why is she where she is now? She found that agent who fell in love with her writing, then that house that did so too, and who would market it...basically, she is lucky. Don't get me wrong, I read them all too, and I saw the first movie, that raw momentum sucks you in. Just be aware that this could take years-Meyer is lucky too in that she's that one in a million who didn't have to wait. Every other author I know of had to go through years of their books not selling, of not being able to find an agent. I love how positive and goal oriented your blog is, and I'm sure you know this, but I just want to make sure you know the most important thing to this process is tenacity, that you keep writing. And you never know, you could be that one in a million yourself.

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