Tuesday, September 1, 2009

1 Query Does Not Fit All

I have said before that sending out submission packages is just like applying for any job out there. I bring this up because many authors out there believe that they can submit the exact same material to every editor and agent out there. I should also note, that many authors believe they use the same pitch when meeting an editor or agent face to face. This is probably the worst mistake they could ever make.

I am not a big fan of the movie but the connection here should make sense. In LEGALLY BLONDE she submits her resume and cover paper on lightly scented pink paper. Her attempt is to make her submission package stand out in the piles of other resumes. Keeping this in mind, you need to think of your submission material to an editor or agent in the same way. Daily, editors and agents are receiving a lot of submissions and when you combine that material with the other work they are doing, it becomes easy to lose track of the material. So how do you do it?

The key is personalizing the material. IF you have done your research. IF you know the style of writing the editor or agent looks for. IF you have been following their blogs. And IF your story truly does fit with that editor or agent, you adjust your query (or your pitch) to fit the needs of the moment. Maybe you can make a reference to a recent post the editor or agent made on their blog. Maybe you reference a comment he or she made at the panel discussion the night before. Keep it personal.

I actually had someone pitch their "memorized" pitch at a conference once and it failed horribly. Why? This writer had been so used to working with female editors she forgot to adjust the pitch. It went sort of like, "You know what it is like to be a woman in a man's business and if you know that, you understand the struggles my heroine had to make when she went into the..." get the idea?

Does this mean you should start from scratch every time? No. The basics are still going to be in the query or pitch. Title, Genre, Word Count, High Concept and Brief Summary. But the word choice you use, the things you highlight, the structure and the content might change depending on the person.

Remember, although I am initially looking at the writing, I am looking to sign an author.


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