May 23, 2011

Writing Pointers from Pennwriters -- The Query

Here are a few tidbits I picked up about querying:
  • Make it personal. Agents want to know why you chose to query them, specifically.
  • Your blurb needs to have voice and style (the same voice and style that's in your book).
  • Be polite!
  • Remember contact info!
  • May is a good time to query. Fall is also good. Summer is a busy time for agents, so don't expect a quick reply. (I personally don't think you should sit on a book just because it's summer, though.)
  • Send your query to yourself first to make sure it translates correctly. You don't want weird characters and formatting going out to every agent you query!
  • Be specific. Too many times, the inner conflict is described as "his demons" or "inner struggles". What does that even mean? Give details to show why this character's struggles are specific to him and your story.
  • More is less. One paragraph, maybe two. You're not writing a full synopsis. What you want to do is hook the agent by giving a few specific details about the conflicts. Show just how impossible your character's situation is.
  • Remove all the telling. Don't tell me the book is exciting. Show it in the blurb.
  • Agents say they want you to compare your book to other authors, but they really don't. Nine times out of ten, it'll hurt you more than help you. (Either you'll come off as overconfident or unclear, or you'll show the agent that you really don't know much about the current market.)

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