Monday, April 07, 2008

JadenPoser Pt. 2

This is Part the Second of these little pseudo-seminars I'm writing up for Her Most Majestically Tall Majesty Savannah. I swore I'd have it up by Monday, even if it gets posted at 11:59.

In this part I'm going to talk about the Q word. Queries (poxes on you if you didn't guess this one).


Your Query is the NUMBER ONE MOST IMPORTANT TOOL you have to get your foot in the door with agents. It's worth more than the book, more than the bribes, more than... pretty much anything short of a contract.

Although I'm probably preaching to the choir (or, more likely, preaching to the preacher) you should understand a few things about query letters.


First off- most of the time agents won't even talk to you unless you've queried them first. Ninety percent of the time *after* you query, you'll get a rejection letter. Just accept it- it happens.

Your query is your calling card, and only HALF of its purpose is to pitch your book. The other 50 percent of the query letter's purpose is to pitch YOU, YOURSELF, PERSONALLY. As I say a lot- almost as important as having a good book is the ability to convince an agent that YOU are hot property.

One last thing you should know about the Q word. Agents get hundreds or even thousands of queries a day. They may see yours, not think the title is convincing enough, and pass it over. Don't let the rejection get you down. Query constantly until you find someone who wants what you've written.

For this part, I'm going to include the query letter that got me signed on with one of the top agencies. I've omitted some details because I'm not sure I can disclose info on the deal just yet.

Here 'tis:

Attn ###### ######: (note: use Attn instead of "Dear" or "Lord High Imperator")

I read on that you are interested in pursuing young adult projects. I believe you will be interested in my YA novel, entitled #.

(note: This is a stock beginning for a query letter. It's short and to the point- it says where you heard of him/her, the genre of your book, and the title)

When a book of spells arrives in the mailbox of teenaged millionaire Ebenezer Talmond, he is cast into a web of danger, magic and intrigue that spans beyond the sinister criminal world that he has always called home.

<---Organized Crime?

Only moments after receiving the book, Ebenezer is left penniless by a killer who walks through mirrors. Escaping from the adoption of his cannibal uncle and joining forces with a sure-shooting girl named Hitchhiker, Ebenezer sets out to delve the secrets of his book and find the man who killed his sister—a journey that will take him beyond everything he has ever known and into the mystery of the Handler’s world.

(note: These paragraphs are MOST IMPORTANT. They should not total to be longer than three or four sentences. NEVER go into more than two paragraphs. The first paragraph should be no longer than one sentence- a hook, really, and no more. Agents think you're cool if you can sum up your whole book into tight spaces. Notice how tight the writing is on the second paragraph... in my book, this covers HUNDREDS of pages, but I've reduced everything to as tight as it can possibly go.)

(ALSO note: Agents like it when these paragraphs begin with "When" or "If" or "After".)

# is the first book in an edgy YA fantasy series revolving around the boy Ebenezer. The book caps at approximately 140,000 words. Six books are planned, and I am about 30,000 words into writing the first sequel.

(note: This paragraph cuts through the "Wow, cool" flim-flam of the previous paragraph and shoots out facts, business-style. How long is the book? Is it a series? Have you done any work on the later books? If you can say yes to the last question, agents like it- it shows you're dedicated. PLUS, it shows that YOU wrote a series (not just a single book) and are NOT begging them for help. It shows confidence, I guess I'm trying to say, and agents respect that.)

The # series is a mix between the fast-paced action of the Maximum Ride books by James Patterson and the macabre humor of the Series of Unfortunate Events books by Lemony Snicket.

(note: This is not necessary, but it's fun. Brag a bit, whether you're read those books or not.)

I have been published once before, in #. If you would like to receive any more information about # or the # series, please email me at #, or call me at #. Thank you for your time and consideration.

(note: Final paragraph wraps it up. Say if you've been published before (big plus!), and then gracefully step back and let the agent decide. Do not grovel at this point. Saying "Please, please, please drop me a line. Or at least a letter. Or even a carrier pigeon!" will not help.


So there's one example of a query letter that worked. Hopefully it'll help out anybody who reads this.

I'm off to bed. Savannah, do me a favor and find some of those funny pics that you always have.

<---Funny Pic

Put 'em on here. ;)

- JadenPoser

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