Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Found Stuff

Sometimes, humor comes when I'm trying to do something other than write humor.

Yesterday, I read a piece and gave a critique, and this was the result.
1) Don't confuse a query letter with an elevator pitch as done in movies for movies. It's a letter, and a business one at that, designed to make your first impression.  

2) Books should not be referential to other books. (It's Harry Potter meets Star Wars and the Bible and 50 Shades of Grey)....kind of stuff. The goal of a query letter is to let the agent know you're serious and make your work stand out as unique. Just as a comedian should never follow a funnier comedian, so an author should not reference giants in literature or classics or even commercially successful authors to themselves, the result will be that the unknown person looks punier and smaller still.   

3) When pitching your book, know your genre.  If you tell someone your book is is a thriller, action, horror, sci-fi, mystery, and a romance, the agent thinks, tuna casserole. No one eats tuna casserole. No one looks up how to make tuna casserole, and why would anyone take a chance on ordering an unknown's tuna casserole.

So what do you write?  Queries are business and sale pitch. Here's something of a template:  

Dear so and so....

My name is such and such and I'm writing to you about my book. (insert title) Title of book is this genre (one the agent represents) and suitable for readers age blah to blah. or whathave you. This is your intro paragraph. Who you are, what you do, why it matters to the person you are addressing.

Young blahdyblah longs for blahdyblah. He meets whatever it is, and begins to discover whatever it is, and must also persevere when whoever it is follows him to whereever it is. In addition to saving whatever for whoever, he uncovers the truth about something that changes everything. (This is your middle paragraph about your book). Maybe include a slice of a scene if it's funny or clever but it has to be brief and tight). 

The Title of Book stresses Themes a and b and c,  Throw in some questions maybe that will be answered but don't be coy.  Only River Song gets to say "Spoilers." and none of us are River Song.   Also, make sure you tell the agent or publishing company your book clocks at how many chapters and so many words. You should know ahead of time, how many words are generally found in a novel, novella, short story, children's book, etc, so you don't overrun or underwrite what you are selling.

And that's the real point of any query letter. You are selling three things: Yourself (I am a competent writer and know the business).  Your book--I wrote it, it's cool and you should read it and all of your friends will want to read it so you should sign me on and publish my book.  Your future relationship with this editor/publishing company. (Go back to the I am a professional who can take editing, criticism, questions and the like and not go to pieces in the process). All three in a three to four paragraph little letter.  And you thought writing the book was the hard part! 

Thank you for considering my work, and I hope to hear from you soon. 

My soon to be famous name
and contact information.
No emoticons or PS notes.   You are pretending to be a professional. 

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