Friday, October 1, 2010

The Other Stuff


So we talked about query pitches. I said a three sentence hook is ideal. A lot of you gasped.
WHAT??? So short!?!?

But think about it. Short catches attention (see above photo). If you get a short email, or see a short blog post, aren't you a lot more likely to sit down and give it 60 seconds of your time?

YEP.

So short is good. (But you can do long, too.) Think about this, though. You're a great writer. So it should be a piece of cake to sell your book in three sentences, right? Because writing is your thing?

RIGHT.

There are a few more thing you need to put with your query.

1. Name and contact info
2. Genre (you know... Urban Fantasy, Romantic Comedy, Horror...)
3. Word count (because no one will want to read a 300,000 word manuscript)
4. Any other info the agent specifically asks for (sometimes they want to know a little bit about you, or if you have writing experience, or if you went to school, are previously published...)
5. A sample of your writing, in the body of the email, right below the query (NO ATTACHMENTS!) (Try 2-5 pages, even if they don't ask for it... trust me)

AND if you have any more questions, may I please direct you to the Query Ninja herself... Elana Johnson. She blogs about this stuff all the time and she's 100 times more awesome at it than me. And she's funnier!

13 comments:

Nicole Zoltack said...

I've tried to get my one query down to four sentences but it's hard. I think there's too many questions that aren't explained in it to make it work though. It's difficult figuring out which questions are ok for the reader of the query to ask, the ones that will compelling them to read the story, and which are questions that are just because they're confused and don't understand the storyline. Uh, I hate writing queries! Anyone wanna write mine for me? Please? I'll throw in some virtual cookies and hot brownies!

Jude said...

Yep I agree. 3 sentence hooks are the way to go. Too much plot might make the agent's eyes glaze...

Jo Schaffer said...

Good advice.
Uh, I want legs like that.

Conda V. Douglas said...

I don't know about Elana being funnier--the illustration was hilarious! And good points about a query.

Slamdunk said...

Succinct is best--good tips.

I enjoy reading Elana's perspective regularly as well

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I have a three line pitch, but that's only for contests. I would never use it in a query because it is too short. It leaves too many unanswered questions, and not in a good "I so have to read this" kind of way.

But I agree the pitch has to be short. I've read tons of long ones on blogs. Correction, I've read the first paragraph of them, but then get bored, knowing I still have a lot more to read of the query. And so far nothing has hooked me. ;)

Jemi Fraser said...

Great idea! Now just to get those revisions done in order to implement it! :)

Solvang Sherrie said...

I've been trying to condense things down to a tweet. I figure if I can get it that short, then I really know the heart of what my story is about.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Hard to do, but I agree. The shorter the better. I know that just short emails are the easiest and fastest to respond to. I can't imagine it's much different for queries. Great info, guys!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Great post! I point blank asked an editor in an email last week about query word count on one of my queries it was 275 for the body and she said that was a good length...

You know I read your post when you first put it up, but the photo distracted me...it made me worry abou my teenage daughter. LOL, (not really...)

Laura Pauling said...

I think a really high concept idea can be done in three 3 sentences. But most of the winning ones I see are more like 2 paragraphs. And the agents gush about how they liked it. So, 3 sentences or 3 paragraphs, I think it comes down to the idea and the writing.

Medeia Sharif said...

Good points. I'm more likely to read a message if it's short.

Mat said...

Hi Suzette,
This is good information, thank you for taking the time.