Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Query Letters Are Not About Being Creative

I have been answering submissions this morning and ran across several that fell into this category. The author is attempting to be creative in the query to get the attention of the agent. While this does make the query stand out, it does not sell the project.

When I teach query writing and synopsis writing, the one thing I emphasize over and over again is that this is simply business correspondence. This is a professional letter that is designed to be purely informative. The query tells us what you are pitching and the basic over-view. The synopsis is the story arc in a straightforward format. The creativity of your writing and the chance to show off your voice comes in the actual manuscript of the partial you might send, or be requested to send.

When authors start to get creative with the query letter, it really slows down the process for the editor or agent when getting those submissions read. Today, for example, I have over 100 new submissions to be read and another 20 or so requested manuscripts to respond to (I've already read the stories so it is just a matter of writing the response). This takes time and when we have to spend the time digging to find out what the project is about, it becomes an immediate, "I don't think so."

I want you to think about getting a job with any other employer. Do you compose a video rap to tell Bill Gates you want a job with his Gates Foundation? Do you contact that law firm with a rambling rant about how "f$#%$%$# ed" up the corporate world is and how you plan to kick some f%^%%^%ing sense into the executives who have messed with the little man?" No. You write a strong business letter to show you are professional.

I understand you want to stand out from the crowd! That is what you need to do. But do so with a letter that shows you are someone the editors and agents will want to work with on all of you novels.

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