Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Question From A Reader - Contradicting Information

I recently had a question from an author about contradictory information they had received. This all involved query letters and submission material. They had attended a conference and had requests from a couple of editors and agents. Each had told the author different information that was to be included in the submission material.

Now, for the author, this was not so much an issue of one person requesting a partial and the other requesting a full or a synopsis. The confusion came from the material, information and format of the query letter. What one wanted, the other said it wasn't necessary and so forth. So what does the author do?

In this case, it was very clear the author was trying to put together one packet and just send it to all of the editors and agents at one time. The problem is that there was supposedly this contradictory information. The issue though, is that this is not contradictory information, but simply different material each person needs to make a better decision.

What authors seem to forget is that sending out that submission material to an editor or agent is no different than applying for a job. Sure, your experience and the information in your resume may be the same, but how you present it will change from one employer to another. One may say education is the most important - so you move the education block to the top. Another may say they want a lot of detail of what you did in each job - so you add more of a narrative. Another may simply want a chronology of your work and the details in the cover letter - so you do that.

The point is, in a query letter, we need to see three things: We need to know the basics of the book (title, genre and word count). We need to know what the book is about (that's the blurb). And, we need to know something about you as an author and where you are going to with your career. What you do in each of those sections depends on who you are sending the project to.

Just remember, the information isn't so much contradicting information; it is simply different information and different needs.

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